February 07, 2011

From Boston's campus to building bridges


Give me work. I can do work. Give me something hard.

Spencer Seiferth, Electromechanical Engineering, '12

Co-op Employer:  Cianbro

Co-op Position:  Intern

Hometown:  unknown

In winter 2009, Spencer Seiferth, BELM ’12, got an unexpected call from Cianbro, the Pittsfield, Maine, construction company where he had spent the previous semester as a co-op student. It was good news: The bid that Seiferth had written for a bridge project in nearby Kennebunk—which meant mapping out all the necessary manpower, project time, and costs—was accepted, and Cianbro was awarded the job.

Going from co-op student to winning construction bids in just one semester took some perseverance. After spending his first month reading plans, Seiferth was eager to learn and went to his bosses with a polite demand for more work. “Give me work. I can do work. Give me something hard.”

His bosses offered him the job of organizing a corral full of piping, which they expected would keep him busy for a day or two. Seiferth returned in a few hours, job completed, looking for more work. Next, they taught him how to read electrical and civil engineering plans–a far cry from the work he’d been doing in his electromechanical classes–and he requested even more responsibility. As Cianbro realized just how capable Seiferth was, he began shadowing an electrician, overseeing stocking and ordering supplies, working on substations, and drafting project bids for jobs like the bridge in Kennebunk.

After his estimate and completion method helped Cianbro win the job, his bosses brought him back the next summer to help manage the building of the bridge. Suddenly, Seiferth was in the field, up early, hard hat on, working side-by-side with the crew. Once the day’s work was done, he would report back to the project engineer to ensure that all the necessary supplies were ordered, the site was properly staffed, and that the team was meeting its deadlines. It was the kind of real-world experience that Seiferth could only get from working hard while on co-op, and is experience that he may call upon if Cianbro offers him a full-time position after he graduates in 2012. “I would like to join Cianbro as a project engineer working on various projects such as the wind mills in Maryland, but I’ll go anywhere. If they want me to do a project in Texas, I’ll go to Texas.”

True to form, Seiferth is willing to do whatever it takes.

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