Gaston College’s civil engineering technology program is helping students prepare for better jobs.
College spokeswoman Stephanie Michael Pickett explained that the civil engineering technology program helps ready them for infrastructure jobs. It prepares students with the advanced technical training they need to join a materials- testing, construction or surveying team as civil engineering technicians. Such technicians help civil engineers plan, design and build infrastructure projects, such as highways, bridges and more, for commercial, industrial and residential clients. The college offers associates in applied science degrees in civil engineering technology, as well as certificate options.
Civil engineering deals with the conception, design, construction, supervision, operation and maintenance of infrastructure projects and systems in the public and private sector, as Scotty Brooks, the chairman of the college’s civil engineering technology program, explained.
“When I describe civil engineering, I always tell someone to step outside and look around,” said Brooks. “Civil engineers have a hand in anything that does not move. For example, the roads, the parking lots, the grading of the area, the planting of trees, the buildings, the drainage, water and sewer systems ––civil engineers work on all of these areas. They even work on such projects as launch pads for rockets.”
Graduates of the civil engineering technology program work in materials-testing, construction, project management, surveying and computer-aided design and drafting (or CADD). They are employed in public, state, local and private companies in Gaston, Lincoln and Mecklenburg counties and throughout North and South Carolina. Typically, most students who complete the Gaston College program attain employment in the industry quickly.
Nicholas Revels enrolled in the civil engineering technology program after graduation from high school. Through the program, he learned what a civil engineering technician might encounter in daily duties on a job site, including how to operate land-surveying equipment, how to draft a blueprint or a house lay-out and that there are many ways to test soil and concrete.
“Although I liked all of these different aspects of civil engineering,” said Revels, “I really enjoyed the drafting portion of the program. When I was graduated from Gaston College in 2019, I was eager and ready to get out into the work field as a drafter.”
In less than a year, he was hired as a level-one drafter for Power Engineers, Inc. in Fort Mill, SC. Revels has many roles at Power that require him to keep up with documents, to work as efficiently and precisely as possible and to be a team player. The job has also given him the opportunity to travel.
“Within my first year at Power Engineers, I have worked on several different substations located throughout the United States,” he said. “Some of these substations are brand new. And some of them are existing but needed upgrades. My future is bright at Power, with a ton of potential. I have recently been given a bigger role with my substation team that will allow me to grow within not only my team but also with the company.”
Besides his position as a level-one drafter, Revels is now the CADD co-ordinator for his substation team, overseeing gathering all upcoming work for all the drafters within the department, assigning and distributing work to the drafters and overseeing work that comes in from other Power Engineers offices. The company has more than 45 offices across North America.
“One thing I have learned over the years through my studies at Gaston College and in my job is that hard work, dedication, and a good ‘go get it’ attitude will pay off and work in your favor,” said Revels.
Yajayra Santiago entered the civil engineering technology program at Gaston College in August. The technology that allows for a better understanding of the engineering world and the hands-on activities attracted her to the program, which she will complete in May of next year. If Santiago decides to continue her education beyond Gaston College, she intends to complete her four-year degree at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her career goals are to improve her study habits and enhance her technical skills while strengthening her decision-making process. She looks forward to a summer internship with Carolina Civil, a Lake Wylie, S.C.-based civil construction contracting firm, where she will be working in every department.
“The civil engineering technology program at Gaston College is allowing me to better my educational skills and gain hands-on experience for the actual engineering world,” said Santiago. “I am looking forward to still learning many things. Everything has caught my interest so far, and my professors have been very kind and are preparing us students for what we need to know to succeed.”
The Gaston College organization for civil engineering technology students, the Civil Club, has participated in many on-campus events to share with the college community what civil engineering technology does in the world. Amongst other activities, Civil Club members have built their own cornhole sets and held cornhole tournaments for the college and the community.
To learn more, e-mail Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org or instructor Jonathan Hollifield at email@example.com.