GZA, Center for Academic Excellence Piloting Peer Tutoring Program
December 12, 2016
Center for Academic Excellence Piloting Peer Tutoring Program
When Wentworth’s Center for Academic Excellence wanted to create a corporate-sponsored peer tutoring project that would ensure career success for Civil Engineering majors, its staff found help from GZA GeoEnvironmental and two Wentworth alumni.
Douglas Roy, CET ’88, CEC ’89, and John Murphy, MDE ’86, MEC ’88, know Wentworth inside and out. Roy, in particular, has remained close to faculty and staff on campus, in addition to hiring Wentworth co-ops at GZA, a full-service environmental firm offering consulting, remediation, and geotechnical services. The two jumped at the chance to fund a series of grants that allow juniors and seniors in the Department of Civil Engineering to become peer tutors.
“Working with peers is critical,” said Roy, a principal and district office manager for GZA’s New York location. “Through peer contacts you know or who think of you favorably, you can find work and understand the technology. You’re also making contacts in the industry.”
A $5,000 grant covers stipends for three peer tutors for one semester, in addition to the Center for Academic Excellence’s costs to maintain and facilitate the project. Upon being screened and interviewed by the Center, peer tutors are trained on campus in communication, problem-solving, conflict management, and interpersonal skills. Civil Engineering students will tutor other students in their major between six and eight hours per week.
During the first semester, peer tutors have the opportunity to meet GZA representatives, and they are considered first for co-op opportunities at the company the following semester.
“We’re a different type of firm in that we don’t like working in silos,” said Murphy, a senior principal and district office manager for GZA’s New Hampshire location. “We want young engineers to connect with one another.”
Murphy also believes in a dynamic education that allows graduates to be flexible in their careers.
“Industries change and it’s hard to focus on only one discipline,” he said. “Hands-on work and exposure to different types of projects can help a person adapt.”
Roy and Murphy have always been fond of Wentworth’s dynamic, experiential learning approach and believe that the peer tutoring project is a win for both the school and GZA.
“Other schools are more theoretical, but seeing it and doing it in the real world truly provides a leg up for people in this industry. Wentworth provides that learning experience,” said Roy.
John Duggan, chair of Wentworth’s Department of Engineering, works with the students who will be selected for the peer tutoring project, often supervising their capstone projects. He met with Murphy and Roy, along with a selection of Wentworth students, last semester.
“I think that a Wentworth education differentiates you and it certainly establishes you as someone who is ready to jump directly into the civil engineering field,” he said.
Added Roy, “We’re ultimately building something in engineering and trying to understand how it works. This school has always been hands on and I know that it gave me a great benefit of understanding practical solutions.”
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