“Civil engineering is a broad field,” said Gary Hage, the President of EPC Engineering and Testing, “from structures to environmental to water and to the soils that we work with here. In civil you have the huge advantage of diversity. Soil is not predictable, the ground is different everywhere you go.”
This summer was not only diverse for EPC but busy as well with a big utility investigation drilling job that took several months and required two large rigs. Having substantial projects like this means good business for Hage and good industry exposure for Trent Blum, EPC’s field/ lab tech intern.
Blum came to his internship with a background in construction, having worked on and off construction sites since he was 16. This summer he was looking to learn more about the lab side of civil engineering, specifically soil testing.
“I didn’t really know what to expect on the actual engineering side of things,” he admitted “I felt like I would enjoy it, but I actually found it more enjoyable than I thought it would be. Because of my construction experience I really like being out in the field, but I also get to be a nerd in the lab, so that’s also fun. It’s a great mix.”
Some days Blum was out on site collecting soil samples while others he was at the office, shadowing the lab technicians, working with Hage or testing the soil samples himself.
Mentoring and Learning
For Hage, hosting internships means more than just an extra set of hands to help out during the busy summer months. It’s an opportunity to assess and inspire a future workforce of civil engineers.
“I get to work first hand with the interns,” Hage said. “They’re much more interested in learning the science and the details of what we do in the lab. With the science part of it and especially the discussions that we have about the tests, the interest level is much greater to a student. And that’s a really fun part of it. It also keeps me more up to date with the procedure.”
“I’ve learned a lot,” Blum added. “Especially about how much you just skim the surface in school. I’m starting to learn the significance of how much rock is used, different types of soil and how they behave. It’s surprising sometimes. You’ll look at one thing and it’s something else, but I’m starting to slowly get an eye for it. Overall, everything’s been a learning experience.”
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