September 07, 2023
Analytical Thinking in Action: Wang's Internship Experience at S&B USA Construction
Like many students, undergraduate student Tianqi Wang was scouring over internship opportunities, trying to find the “right” one that would provide both opportunities for growth and a summer of challenges. “Then I received an email from my program advisor, Andrea Francioni Rooney, with information about an internship at S&B USA Construction. I was really interested in the project side of it—the real-world aspect.”
Wang was accepted into the program and quickly dove into working on actual projects for highway bridges and airports. The exposure to fieldwork allowed Wang to put his CEE background to the test. During the internship, he spent time on an active construction site—seeing the process of construction and how engineering work develops in the field. “These are exciting and big projects that I am really interested in. I got to see how it really works and learn on-the-job,” he adds.
Shannon Moss, project controls specialist at S&B USA Construction, says that the internship experience is a win-win situation for interns and her company. S&B USA Construction recently joined the CEE Industry Partnership Program which creates an opportunity to directly engage with students and the department.
“Interacting with interns allow us, as a business, not only to benefit from direct help on our projects—but, more importantly, interns provide perspective.” She states that interns, who don’t have as much experience or exposure to the industry, ask challenging questions that force employees to think more deeply about the ‘why’ aspect of their processes.
“At CEE, I learned how to break a problem down, find out what is making it so difficult, and then solve it step by step.”
Moss mentions that Wang was chosen for the program because he’s data-minded, engaging, and thorough.
These attributes were on display as Wang assisted S&B USA with a project on I-80 in central Pennsylvania. A highway bridge needs to be taken down, rebuilt, and part of the expressway retrofitted to more modern standards. “I had the chance to look at drawings, determine the scope of work, and review schedule-related items to determine what goes into each phase of the project and the work that will be done in each section,” he states.
Wang adds that the analytical thinking and problem-solving courses he took at CEE helped him as he faced challenges on the job. “At CEE, I learned how to break a problem down, find out what is making it so difficult, and then solve it step by step.”
Moss explains that S&B USA Construction exposes interns to problems that have real constraints and real context. “Interns are allowed to have ownership over problems that haven’t already been solved and to create solutions. I think that’s really empowering and a powerful learning experience.”
With the fall semester starting soon, Wang’s internship is winding down. But he plans to share his positive experience with others to motivate them to keep searching for the right internship fit. “Ask for help and use the resources you have through friends or your professors. Don’t rely on email—talk to a real person if you’re interested in an internship. Use the summer to improve and better yourself.”