Tonawanda News

NT

October 6, 2013

More than bridges

Real-world experience pays off for NT engineering academy students

(Continued)

Tonawanda News — Carroll said he was able to draft various plans and sit in on department head meetings, as well, and lauded NT City Engineer Dale Marshall for his mentorship.

“He didn’t just tell me or show me,” Carroll said. “He took the time to explain what’s going on and why we’re doing it.”

Marshall has set up internships for both high school students and paid internships for college students, generally from UB, for years. He said it’s a system that helps both sides: The department gives the students experience (and for the college interns, a job) and the interns help make ends meet at the engineering department, which has suffered cutbacks over the years.

“It’s a symbiotic thing; we mutually benefit,” he said. “They can do everything. It’s great experience for them. It’s hugely important for these kids to get this experience. and they get it here because we do it all.”

The students learn things as simple as answering the phone, dealing with callers and office work such as filing, mailing and typing, to more field-specific work such as mapping underground locations for contractors, surveying, learning to use Niagara County’s Geographic Information System and working on various in-house projects, Marshall said. 

“It’s sort of soup to nuts. They do the whole realm of what you do in an engineering office,” he said. “There’s a lot of stuff going on that they can do. The two (college interns) I have right now are architects; they really have this visual thing down. They do everything, everything you would expect.”

The experience can motivate the students, who see “the light at the end of the tunnel,” Marshall said, and in return, he gets to promote his field. In fact, he hopes one of his protégés will succeed him — eventually.

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