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Spring Break success: Nebraska Engineering students explore careers with alumni in Kansas City

A group of UNL College of Engineering students traveled to Kansas City for spring break in March and connected with Nebraska alumni for future careers.

Each year Nebraska Engineering students benefit from industry visits the college coordinates. This year, 100 Nebraska Engineering students took chartered buses from the college’s Lincoln and Omaha locations for the three-hour trip to Kansas City. The 2014 itinerary included J.E. Dunn, Black & Veatch, Cerner, MRI Global, Garmin, Bayer Crop Science, MMC Contractors and Burns & McDonnell. Nebraska alumni at these companies led tours and panel discussions, and students learned hiring tips and day-to-day job responsibilities as they made career contacts.

At Burns & McDonnell, six Nebraska Engineering alumni shared advice from working at the company’s headquarters, among 4,300 employees worldwide with this leading engineering design firm. The alumni emphasized the importance of internships and co-operative work experiences during college, as well as study abroad, networking and participation in groups with leadership opportunities.

Eric Glunz, a 2008 graduate of the Construction Management program with UNL’s Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction, is now a project manager with MMC Contractors—a company that often works with Burns & McDonnell. The Nebraska Engineering students were impressed that Glunz’s first assignment with MMC was helping to build Arrowhead Stadium, home of the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. He presented about MMC’s capabilities with new construction industry technologies including Building Information Modeling (BIM), Integrated Product Delivery (IPD) and Design Bid Build (DBB).

On a tour at Truman Medical Center, MMC and Burns & McDonnell representatives explained how they overcame challenges with a now-completed project: an overhaul of the hospital’s physical plant. The job required use of the chilled water and boiler systems during their replacement, to sustain patient care.

Alumni and company representatives said the Nebraska Engineering students asked excellent questions. The experience “helped me understand a professional’s point of view about the engineering industry, and all the pros and cons that come along with pursing a degree in engineering,” said Esteban Loza, a civil engineering student. “This trip made me realize that there are jobs out there for us.”

“It’s important that our alumni interact with students, to help them understand the great opportunities possible for them,” said the college’s dean, Tim Wei, during dinner with alumni.

Past trips had visited Atlanta, Houston and Phoenix, and “it was exciting this year to see what’s just down the road,” said David Williams, director of retention with UNL’s Engineering Student Services team.

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