About the company:
Ericksen Roed & Associates (ERA) is a structural engineering firm based in St. Paul, Minnesota. Some of their services includes equipment testing and pre-cast concrete solutions. ERA have been hiring interns through the SciTech Program since 2018, and they’ve taken an educational approach to the way they host internships.
“School gives you a good background and technical skills, but it doesn’t really teach you how to be a structural engineer,” said Rebecca Gordon, an Engineer and Intern Coordinator at ERA. “So, what we’ve set up is sort of a skills checklist that we work through, not only with our interns but with our new engineers as well. It’s set up as a checklist of skills that an engineer would need to develop in their first three to four years of work as they prepare to take their PE [Principles and Practice of Engineering] exam,” which is required to become a licensed professional engineer in the state of Minnesota.
During their ERA internships, students get the opportunity to learn about building codes, try their hand at design work and get out in the field to visit work sites.
Meet the intern:
Libby Rodman is a civil engineering major at Iowa State University. A native of Andover, Minnesota, Rodman had a previous construction internship where she spent all her time on-site. It was a good precursor to this experience, Rodman said, “it really helped me to see [engineering] from that perspective first and then go into the design side, to have the perspective and the background of the actual on-site work.”
While at ERA, Rodman helped redesign some joists for a pre-existing building. She also went on-site to help assess the capacity of a building’s mezzanine, and she learned a lot about how to analyze a structure and calculate live and dead loads.
“One thing I like doing is the shop drawings,” she said. “Starting off, it’s a really great way to learn how the drawings are set up and what you’re looking for when looking at buildings and what they actually need. Just getting that exposure to what the drawings look like is really helpful.”
From Gordon’s perspective, Rodman is on the right track. “She asks questions when she doesn’t understand something and follows up if the explanation isn’t enough for her to move forward. Which is really critical as a structural engineer, because there’s so much to learn,” Gordon said. “[Rodman] is really proactive and has a great attitude about everything we’ve been doing. So, I’d just say, stay on the track you’re on and you’ll be very successful.”
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