This week’s guest post is a “Student Success Story” by Jonathan Hui, Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, 2016.
This summer I took part in Canadian National Railroad’s Summer Railroader internship program. I connected with this opportunity after meeting CN representatives at the Illinois Tech Career Fair in Fall 2014.
For 10 weeks, I worked in the CN Bridges and Structures department located in Homewood, Illinois. The B&S department oversees more than 7000 bridges across the CN rail network that runs across all of Canada and south through the United States to the Gulf Coast. The civil/structural engineers in this office evaluate the condition of existing bridges and design replacements or repairs to ensure the continued safe and efficient operation of the railroad.
During most of my internship I worked in the design group which manages all major bridge projects across the CN network. A typical design project takes 9 to 12 months from initiation to closing. However, I was given the opportunity to work on each intermediate phase on several different projects. Some notable projects included performing background research for developing a new standard culvert design, setting up strain gauge test equipment on a truss bridge, and completing a photo survey and steel weight estimate for superstructure replacement. Other responsibilities included compiling preliminary documentation for upcoming projects and verifying design and fabrication drawings. Although most of the work was completed in the office, I went out into the field several times throughout the summer to observe inspection and construction work on nearby bridges.
One of the best parts of this internship was the ability to see the broad spectrum of projects that take place on the railroad. The B&S engineers were incredibly supportive throughout the summer; with their guidance, I was able to apply effectively the knowledge gained in the classroom and expand my learning into new areas. This internship widened my perspective on the possibilities that exist in the railroad industry relating to the civil/structural engineering profession. I am sure that this experience will serve as a strong foundation for my continuing learning and development at Illinois Tech and beyond.