Have you ever wanted to pay it forward?
In high school, I was fortunate to attend a school with a program that introduces students to different careers. I was good at math, so I decided to try the engineering track. While taking those classes, my interest in engineering was sparked.
Fast forward six years. I now have a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Florida, and I work for a great engineering company, BGE!
Not only am I fortunate to work at BGE, but I’m in Jacksonville, Florida, not far from where I went to high school in St. Johns.
So, as one who became interested in engineering when attending the career academy in high school, I wanted to go back to the same academy and teach students about engineering.
It truly is a labor of love, a passion project. I’m always excited to see the lightbulb moments with students. You can definitely tell which kids have a real interest.
We teach production-oriented AutoCAD lessons in hopes of stirring their interest in engineering as a career.
The first thing we teach is how to lay out single-family lots. Most of the kids live in subdivisions, so this is something that is familiar to them even if they haven’t looked at it through the lens of an engineer.
The lessons are taught through the Florida Civil Educators Foundation, a non-profit organization some partners and I started. We taught 10 lessons in the spring of 2022 and five lessons in the fall of 2022. We have eight lessons planned for the spring of 2023. There are about 30 students in each lesson. All told, that’s 360 hours of training, so each student gets about 11 hours of training.
By sparking their interest, we hope students will go into the workforce with their skills–either directly out of high school as CAD technicians or designers, or after they’ve pursued an education in civil engineering or landscape architecture. The other goal is to help the students get internships with companies. At my previous company, I brought a student on board as an intern, and he became a very productive worker.
Our ultimate goal is to grow the program and help create a CAD pipeline for the industry. One day, we hope to build a plug-and-play program and take it to other high schools, other cities and other counties.
I’m very appreciative that BGE supports my participation in this program. It speaks directly to BGE’s support for education and the communities where we operate. Plus, who knows? Some of these students may want to work for BGE one day!