Summer Spotlight: Tyler McFarren

Tyler McFarren

Year: Incoming fifth-year
Major: Civil Engineering (Structural)

This summer, Tyler McFarren is working at Engineering Associates (EA) with the structural department on bridge and roadway design. Here's what he said about this experience...

Explain the details of your internship or co-op.

At Engineering Associates (EA), I work with the structural department on bridge and roadway design. EA also works on municipal projects, but that's a different team. From small, 15-foot county bridges, to interstate overpasses, to restoring 4 mile of US Route 30, EA builds infrastructure all over Ohio. They are based out of Wooster, and are only a short drive down a back road from my home in Orrville.

How did you find this opportunity?

I was approached by EA following a scholarship award in Columbus last year. I didn't realize it before, but major-specific scholarships are great ways to meet employers! EA was being recognized for one of their development projects, and they asked me after the dinner if I wanted to work an internship with them.

What has been the best experience so far?

My favorite experience so far has been our first bridge inspection. I went out to the Youngstown area to look at a bridge that was 20 feet tall and just as long with two other engineers. We used a ladder and hammers to knock on the entire bridge to test for loose concrete (yes, large chunks fell off), and then spray painted any areas that needed fixed... civil engineers essentially get to graffiti and vandalize structures for work. It was great getting out of the office and working in the field, as well as grabbing a "company lunch" afterwards

What're you looking to get out of this experience?

I am trying to learn skills and develop as an engineer in ways that are not taught in the classroom. There are many different codes and processes that are followed by consultants that are learned on the job and not in school, and I feel like I am getting that with EA. I am also taking away great connections and enjoying a nice work environment with other structural engineers.

What's your best piece of advice for students who might be looking for a similar opportunity?

I would say to look for connections and opportunities in places that you may not think to typically look. People do not seem to apply for scholarships in college as much as in high school, but ones that include conferences and networking events can create invaluable connections that can lead to work opportunities! Also, be open to just contacting local companies. If you have local firms and businesses that work in your field, talk through a connection or send an email telling them that you noticed them and would interested in connecting if they are looking for somebody... they often like to hire local talent!

How did CWRU and CSE prepare you?

Besides the basic skills needed for civil engineering work, I feel like CWRU and CSE taught me a lot in knowing how to work hard, and how to tackle tasks that I am unfamiliar with. Even if I hadn't learned to, say, size a concrete box beam for a 100-yr flooding event, I have been trained by my professors to connect information I have learned with new concepts to make it understandable. I find that CWRU has set me up to efficiently work towards a solution and work timely for my supervisors.