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Think Big: Five Tips for Incoming Civil Students

Think Big: Five Tips for Incoming Civil Students

Kevin Roell (Civil Engineering '09) thinks big every day. While working at GEI Consultants in Marquette, MI, he has worked on power plants, wastewater treatment facilities, and mines . His favorite project to date involved inspecting and repairing a 100 plus year old hydroelectric dam.

Kevin credits Michigan Tech with providing him with a solid foundation to start a career in civil engineering, and he has a few tips for anyone considering a career in civil engineering:

1. Just ask.
If you have a question, don’t be afraid to ask for help. In my Mechanics of Materials class, I spent hours trying to understand moment and shear diagrams.  Finally (as a last resort) I asked my prof for help. In five minutes I not only understood the concept, but I realized that he was a really cool guy.

2. Be brave.
I was really shy. During my freshman year, I decided to put myself out there and just talk to people. In the 5 years I’ve been working as a Civil Engineer, I’ve travelled to countless locations and worked with teams of people I’ve never met before. Being able to confidently introduce myself and collaborate effectively is a huge part of my job.

3. Be responsible.
Mom is not here to wake you up every morning or remind you about homework. Get a planner, make a schedule, set alarms in your phone—do whatever it takes to make sure you get to class, and get your work done. Take it from me—you do not want to be late for your General Chemistry test and attempt to answer 125 questions in 50 minutes.

4. Plan ahead.
An internship or co-op gives you crucial experience that all companies look for when hiring. Talk to your profs and older classmates about internships and co-op opportunities now, and how to go about getting them. My internship turned into my first full-time job, and it was great being able to start my first job with some experience under my belt.

5. Have fun.
Take a break from homework and join an intramural team, go snowboarding at Ripley, or build an ice sculpture during Winter Carnival. There are tons of fun events—my friends and I played a ton of broomball, went to the Thursday movie nights at Fisher Hall.

Kevin’s final piece of advice is to choose your school wisely. “I’ve heard multiple times that Tech grads are well-prepared for the workforce… more so than other engineering graduates. Tech was the right choice for me.” 

Civil Engineering Facts

Is civil engineering the right degree for you? These facts that might help you decide:

  • Civil Engineering at Michigan Tech has a 93% job placement rating within 6 months of graduation.
  • The average salary in 2013 for civil engineers was $80,770.
  • The industry is projected to grow 20% from 2012-2022. During this period, about 53,700 jobs will open up.
  • The best paying city is Midland, TX, where civil engineers make an average of $115,590/year.

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