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  • Writer's pictureFAMU-FSU

Chapter Update - Adapting to COVID-19

Our FAMU-FSU student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers-Florida Engineering Society includes some of our department’s most involved and high-achieving students. In the past several months, these students have also proven their ability to adapt and succeed among challenging new scenarios.

Beginning in March, as our ASCE chapter readied their camouflage concrete canoe and headed down to the University of Central Florida for the Southeast Student Conference, these students have had to acclimate to a whole new normal. Being a Civil Engineering major solely through Zoom lectures was something that most of our students hadn’t ever imagined or prepared for.

“Virtual classes made me realize what I love most about FAMU-FSU. I really missed the community in study groups and getting to work hands-on like when we poured the concrete cornhole board for conference,” Antoinette Velazquez, a senior and ASCE officer said. Despite the campus community being moved online, faculty and students alike were willing to make adjustments to ensure everyone had a successful end to the semester. “Dr. Tawfiq and Dr. Mtenga were willing to meet on Zoom for over an hour before their respective final exams to work through questions I had, which really solidified my understanding of the topics.”

As the spring semester came to a close, we celebrated the Class of 2020 as they entered into a world of unknowns. With summer approaching, other students began looking towards internships, summer classes, and research opportunities. Although there was a worry that these opportunities would be canceled, many companies led the charge with creative concepts to train the next class of civil engineers virtually.

Companies like Kimley-Horn and Turner Construction continued to be popular choices for our students this summer. Kimley-Horn hired three ASCE members as interns in addition to several other students from the CEE department at FAMU-FSU. Nicholas Jungers, a Kimley-Horn intern and ASCE President, said he was initially disappointed to hear that his internship was now remote but that he ultimately learned a lot.

“A remote internship allowed for a really unique opportunity to learn about the company in-depth and get exposure to some of the firm’s biggest projects, such as the new Las Vegas Raiders stadium.” Nicholas said.

While many students worked for private firms, opportunities with public agencies also provided a valuable internship experience. Yona Rubin, an ASCE member, worked with the U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers on the Herbert Hoover dike dam rehabilitation around Lake Okeechobee. Research was another route some students chose to take in expanding their knowledge this summer. Bryan Coogan, a member of ASCE, spent the summer researching the Fenholloway River in Perry, FL as a NOAA Center for Coastal & Marine Ecosystems Scholar.

Despite the many unknowns that COVID-19 has brought, our students have managed to continue their pursuit in becoming the next generation of civil engineers, whether that’s through their classes, internships, or research opportunities. As the college enters new territory with mostly remote learning, we’re relying on our student organizations such as ASCE-FES to promote involvement in the young engineering community. For this past year, our FES student chapter was awarded an Honorable Mention for Most Active Student Chapter and one of their executive board members was awarded the Outstanding Service to a Student Chapter award. We’re excited to see how our innovative student leaders continue to adapt as they learn and grow as upcoming engineers.

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