Carnegie Mellon University

Emmett Horton (CEE/EPP ’18)

Internship: Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates

Emmett Horton (CEE/EPP ’18) participated in a summer internship at Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, a forensic engineering firm. He first connected with the firm at the annual CEE career fair.

CEE: Tell us about the work you did for at Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates (WJE).

I’m was in the Fairfax, Virginia office this summer and a lot of the projects involve the historic buildings in the downtown DC area. For example, I’ve worked at the Washington National Cathedral and at the Hotel Monaco. I’ve been as far as Baltimore for some projects too. It’s a good mix.

I’ve seen a wide variety of work, because WJE performs many services. In addition to the historic work, there is a group that specializes in building enclosures – this area could be described as taking care of the skin of buildings. They conduct leak investigations and performance testing for windows and curtain wall systems, and oversee their installation during construction. I’ve worked on a couple of those projects as well.

I was brought on to help wherever I’m needed. If a project manager needs an extra hand, they’ll reach out to junior staff and interns to make site visits, help write the reports, etc. I’ve assisted in leak investigations, façade surveys, roof surveys, and small-scale structural investigations.

At times, we oversaw repairs which would require that we out and make recommendations for what needs to be repaired. That is what I worked on at the National Cathedral and Hotel Monaco. I’ve been really pleased with the experience. It’s a really good mix of work in the office and work out on the sites. I was really looking forward to getting onsite and out of the office.

CEE: Did any particular CEE classes stand out as helping to prepare you for this experience?

Yes. There’s a portion of the company here that does structural testing, instrumentation and analysis for structures that have either failed or are in disrepair.

There is a chain of structural analysis and design courses taught by professor Jim Thompson that I have found particularly useful when working in these areas.

CEE: How has this internship influenced your career goals?

Last summer I was working in more of a design office setting. It was sitting down at a computer, and people were working on the same project for 3 or 4 years. I think that being exposed to this environment – where there are a lot of different projects, they’re shorter in time span, and you get to see the projects in the flesh (you’re onsite working through them) – has helped shed some light what I want my future career path to look like.

CEE: Do you have any advice for other CEE students?

Just explore. Don’t do the same thing two summers in a row. Really try to see all the different opportunities out there before settling on one, even if you think it’s what you want to do, because you might have a great experience somewhere else.