CH2M HILL participated in a community outreach program in Baltimore, Maryland to help build the pipeline of STEM professionals. Two impacted students, LaKeeVia Jackson and Triston Bing-Young, share how getting introduced to CH2M HILL engineers influenced their engineering career.

By: Triston Bing-Young, CH2M HILL Intern and Morgan State University Engineering Undergraduate Candidate and LaKeeVia Jackson, CH2M HILL Civil Engineer

Triston’s Take:

It’s not every week that you get an opportunity to meet R&B singer John Legend and get introduced to a company that you aspire to work for; however, last October, LaKeeVia and I were fortunate enough to have a week just like this. As students at Morgan State University pursuing civil engineering degrees, we were contacted by our retention and recruitment coordinator with an invitation to attend the City of Baltimore’s Journey Home Gala—a special community event hosted by the mayor as part of her efforts to eradicate homelessness in the city. We would be attending the gala as guests of a local civil engineering firm—CH2M HILL. Neither LaKeeVia nor I had ever heard of CH2M HILL; yet we accepted the invitation and were happy to represent Morgan State University’s School of Engineering at the event.

With graduation and summer looming, we took a peek at the company’s website to learn more about the type of work they do and surprisingly, we learned that CH2M HILL seems to do it all—providing full service capabilities across a diverse market portfolio.

At the gala, we met several employees from the firm, who fortunately we stayed connected with over the coming months and still hear from frequently. From the first introduction, they inspired us with their fun and friendly demeanor. They were eager to share stories about projects that they were working on and seemed genuinely interested in helping us pursue our career goals and answer our questions.

Throughout high school and college, we’ve been told hundreds of times that networking is one of the best things you can do for your career. The old adage seems to be correct. Following the gala, we connected with CH2M HILL multiple times at industry conferences, community events, and campus recruitment activities. Intrigued by the company’s culture and impressive list of engineering accomplishments, we submitted our resumes with the firm to explore opportunities.

We are both extremely active participants in engineering organizations, like NSBE, SWE, and ASCE. At NSBE’s 40th annual national convention, we were selected to interview with one of CH2M HILL’s market leaders. LaKeeVia, who graduated in May, landed a full-time position in D.C., and I accepted a 10 week summer rotational internship in the headquarters’ Denver office.

I was assigned to work on a wastewater treatment design-build project for Metro Wastewater Reclamation District. It’s been a very exciting project. Every two weeks, I work with one of the supervisors from the different components of the project, which has given me valuable exposure to quality management, project controls, design, and construction. This is my first time working on a water project. Although, I have taken several courses related to hydrology, being able to put the theories into practice and see something being built to do what it’s supposed to do, is really cool!

LaKeeVia’s Take:

Much like Triston, I have always had a knack for math and science. For a short time, I actually entertained the idea of being an accountant, but decided I couldn’t sacrifice the opportunity to solve real-world problems—which is why I decided to pursue a degree in Civil Engineering (CE) at Morgan State University. While there, I also worked on a summer rotational internship program in Washington, as part of a team responsible for designing the world’s longest floating bridge. I loved playing with different design software, as well as the challenge and ability to think critically to solve real life issues. After completing this internship, I was determined to become a CE.

Throughout college, I served as the female student spokesperson for the CE department. Since officially joining the CH2M HILL team in June, I have already been inspired by the female engineers and mentors I’ve encountered. It’s reassuring to see females in upper level positions across the company, including our CEO. This gives me much hope that I will advance my career and hold an upper level position too.

Today, I am working on my first assignment in Washington, D.C., at the Navy Yard as part of the quality controls team. Although just a few months into the project, I have learned so much and am excited to build my legacy in the engineering industry. I look forward to sharing more with you in a future blog.

Triston, who has always had an affinity for sketching and building, can’t wait to see what legendary mark he can make on the engineering field as he puts his passion for solving complex problems to work—designing and building cool projects that will make the world a better place. “When I was young, I would spend hours designing and constructing race car tracks around the living room. My mom taught me how to work around constraints, like avoid knocking over the living room lamp, which helped me think critically to solve problems,” Triston notes. “The days of race car tracks and competing in robotics competitions has led me to work on more complex design-build water projects and more.”  Triston will graduate in December with a dual degree in Business Administration (Entrepreneurship concentration) and Civil Engineering (Structural concentration). He is looking forward to entering the workforce and putting his engineering skills and creative mind to work this winter.

Like many female engineers, LaKeeVia may be a minority in her industry, but she aspires to reach the top and is committed to work hard and share her passion for engineering with others. As the spokesperson for the Civil Engineering Department and Past President of the ASCE Student Chapter at Morgan State University, LaKeeVia participated in numerous professional and student societies, volunteered, and organized STEM outreach activities to inspire younger students to pursue an engineering and/or technology related career. LaKeeVia recently graduated from MSU with a Civil Engineering degree and accepted a position with CH2M HILL. “I am passionate about both design and construction and am thrilled that my job at CH2M HILL allows me to do both,” said LaKeeVia. “I love working for a company that encourages collaboration and offers younger engineers growth opportunities and a network of positive mentors.”