Opportunity Calling

Improving Character and My Future

Improving Character and My Future

By: Aaron Brown

Aaron Brown

During All-Star Weekend, I had the opportunity to serve the LeBron James Family Foundation as a 330 Ambassador with community service and professional development in Charlotte, North Carolina. The goal of All-Star Weekend is to recognize a city that needs help in the community and school systems and turn it around with service from Akron students. Each year a new city is chosen to host All-Star Weekend to help the residents start living a normal life again.

This year, we provided Charlotte’s residents love through working with Samaritan’s Feet to provide 400 pairs of brand-new shoes to students at a school called the Movement School, similar to the I Promise School. There we engaged with the students through washing their feet and having empowering conversations with the mindset that they need clean feet & a happy attitude for them to really enjoy having new shoes that are from LeBron. This was also possible through our XBOX 2K foundation friends who sponsored most of the shoes.

Aaron Brown_2

In addition, we had the chance to participate in a panel discussion and tour with the Carolina Panther’s behind-the-scenes team, who are the driving forces to successful football. With a lawyer, reporters, operation managers, and communication experts in the room, we as 330 Ambassadors heard their stories of climbing the corporate ladder through grit and to remember to always be “unapologetically to yourself.” I remember profoundly one woman saying that “chances are just luck, timing, and God’s grace” which reminds me to not just let an opportunity go - grab it and showcase my grit. However, the main focal point of it all is when the equipment manager spoke how he used to “fold over 800 towels a day” and someone else made the clear distinction that everyone has those days before they made it big.


The experience is not just a trip for us to enjoy, it is a mission to employ our newfound lessons to the work being done in Akron with the I Promise School and the Embassy, our own space for mentoring students in the school. After the trip, I felt empowered to keep moving forward with every commitment I engage in because these programs will and has already improved my character and my future. Connecting it with AASEP, I thought about my role as a ‘non-engineering yet love engineering’ student in a firm. My goal has always been to be a member of the design process and the ‘business side of the house’ ensuring the project is effectively & efficiently being marketed to consumers. Through All-Star weekend, it cemented that the networking and communications skills of individuals are essential to success and firms will always need someone like me to coordinate their activities in the mindset of the consumer.

The reason I joined AASEP is for the transferrable skills that STEM principles emphasize. Yet, I know I have a lot to showcase outside of the engineering sphere with my background in education, communications, and business. Moving forward into a firm, I want to demonstrate a different perspective to the whole mix of engineers that may enlighten their thought-processes. LJFF has made me clear of my direction and AASEP will provide the tools to present it. All-Star Weekend with the LeBron James Family Foundation was an opportunity to professionally and personally develop through community action, 21st-century skill improving sessions, and bridging the experience to impacting Akron to be a stronger & striving community for all.


Exposure to Engineering

Exposure to Engineering

By: Mark J. Buchenic

Vice President - PRIME AE Group, Inc. 


The Akron Student Engineering Program proved to be an effective way to expose high school students to field of engineering prior to college.  PRIME AE worked with the student John Vang.  John was exposed to various tasks and experiences in water/wastewater branch of civil engineering.  John learned about how sewer collection systems are assessed for rehabilitation by reviewing pipeline interior inspection videos and conducting field observations of sewer manholes.  I believe John was given a glimpse into the world of civil engineering where he can further his interest in the field.  Unfortunately, we do not have good pictures.

Better Equipped for My Future

Better Equipped for My Future

By Jose Miller Heisler

When my engineering teacher Coach Griffith first introduced me to this program and told me what this program is about, I thought that it would be the perfect thing for me. It paired me up with Welty Construction Co. based off my interests with construction and engineering, which ended up being what I think was a perfect fit. When I first walked into their office I was scared and anxious that they would look down on me or just give me busy work because I was just some kid walking into their office, but boy was I wrong. They were probably one of the kindest and most welcoming people that I have met. They made me feel at home and then handed me a very well put together packet that listed what I would do for my whole stay there.

My favorite part about this is that it wasn't set in stone, they made it flexible so that I would be able to do this what interested me more and remove things that didn't. They showed me every single department that they had and made sure to explain everything clearly and made sure that I understood it, taking time to let me ask questions and take notes. During my stay there, they taught me many things ranging from onsite safety to the need of diversity in the workplace.

They not only taught me about their workplace but also about life. Talking to the many people there helped me find out that mechanical engineering was the degree that I was looking for. Every day was a new and exciting experience there and overall, I loved the whole thing. I learned many things that I would otherwise would not have if I hadn't been a part of this program. With this experience I think that it has truly better equipped me for my future in the field of engineering as well as in life overall.

Networking and Patience is Key

Networking and Patience is Key

By Kareemat Melaiye

Through this program, I got the opportunity to have a two-week internship at an environmental engineering company called Cosmos Technologies. The CEO of the company is Mr. Frederick Douglas and he took time out of his busy schedule to teach me about what his company does and what my tasks were. I was a research intern and had to search for proposal and grant opportunities while also looking for potential business partners. I quickly realized that the difficult part wasn't reaching out to these contacts but hearing back from them. I had to call these contacts consistently and send them emails to try and get a response from them.

Even researching wasn't as simple as I thought it would be. For example, I was told to look for underground deep well injection sites and get their contact information, however, it was difficult to find the location of the injection sites and I had to contact the EPA for a list of the sites. It took up until the last day of my internship to get those lists.

Regardless, I had a nice experience and learned tips from Mr. Douglas on running a business. I learned that networking and patience is very important when running a company because the result may not come as quick as you think it would be. This program also helped me show others who I am and what I am capable of, rather than them assuming my skills and personality based on my appearance. Hopefully in the future, employers will be open to hiring more minorities into their companies. I really had a good experience with this program and would like to participate in it again.

Show me the ropes

Show me the ropes

By Gwendalyn Jenkins

During my time at CTI Engineers I learned how to survey elevation of a certain area by taking a previous elevation and using a rod ruler and a leveled scope. Elevation surveying is simple. First, you must have an elevation to start off with, so we used manholes for this because all elevations are already mapped out. We took the rod and put it on the manhole and put the leveled scope far away enough that we can see the manhole and see the point we wanted to measure. Once we get the measurement, we write it down before moving on. After, we put the measuring rod on the spot we want to measure, then we use the scope to get the number of our new elevation, accounting for the height of the scope of course.

I also got to learn about waste treatment facilities and how they function to make our waste water clean. First in the pretreatment phase, the facility rakes out all the big materials in the water. Then, they go to primary treatment which uses gravity to allow the particles to go to the bottom of the tank, also using surface skimmers to get the grease and oil off the top. In secondary treatment, microorganisms are used to break down the organic material still in the water. Lastly, the facility treats the sludge, or organic materials that they took out of the water, which farmers can use for fertilizer for their plants.

Also, while at CTI Engineers, I learned a great deal about civil engineering. My company specialized in water treatment facilities, so I also learned a bunch about those too. I learned about the inner workings of redesigning a water treatment facility and about each individual role in that redesigning. I got to meet all the people in the Akron branch of CTI Engineers and what role they play in the company. I also attended a couple of meetings and learned more about how people reason through problems together.

Overall, this was a really great experience and I really learned a lot. There are a lot of things that I did not know anything about before doing this internship. I loved meeting all the people involved, and they were all really welcoming. Rick Reed and David Kohlmeier were both great at showing us the ropes and giving us interesting projects to participate in. Given the chance I would do it again.

Confirming My College Plans

Confirming My College Plans

By Kathryn Burns

The AASEP allowed me to have a wonderful engineering experience in a professional setting. I was able to have hands-on experience in the civil engineering field and helped confirm my college plans. I'm so grateful to have this opportunity to build relationships with individuals in the field of engineering, as well as members of the Akron community.

Just like the millions of other Americans that mindlessly waste water, I was so unaware of the effort and work that goes into providing cities with clean water. The field of civil engineering blends business and people skills with creativity, mathematics, and helping others. My internship allowed me to explore multiple facets of civil engineering: providing clean water, wastewater treatment, finding ways to preserve the environment while creating infrastructure, and working with governments to make the designs a reality. I have gained so much knowledge and awareness about the efforts being made to improve the city of Akron and our larger community. The program has given me the confidence to pursue a career in civil engineering and strive to create a better society. I'm thankful to have made some amazing friends with similar interests to support my endeavors.

The AASEP is a wonderful addition to the opportunities that Akron provides for students that helps take learning and personal growth outside of the classroom.

Designers, Architects, Suits and Ties

Designers, Architects, Suits and Ties 

By Angel Catala

My internship was an interesting experience. My time at AECOM helped me understand what it really meant to be a civil engineer working for a big corporation. I shadowed Louis Burnoski, a civil engineer that worked on designing and managements of projects. He showed me the ropes and answered almost all my questions, and for the ones he didn't know, he would direct me to someone who did.

Mr. Burnoski introduced me to bridge designers, road designers, landscape architects, regular architects, mapping experts, water treatment experts, and a lot of people with suits and ties. I visited water treatment plants and sewer treatment plants as well as the AECOM building in Cleveland, where I met even more professionals. I met 3 college students who worked for AECOM because of a similar program than our own.

 I was in several important meetings that involved the projects that are being done in the city of Warren. But for the most part my internship was just meeting and greeting. I learned a lot about etiquette in the workplace and how to be formal in front of important people. Even though I wanted to learn more about the physical side of engineering, I still enjoyed my time at AECOM.

Opportunity Knocking

Opportunity Knocking

By Quran McClelland 

When I first was told about the All Akron Student Engineering Program (AASEP), I was about 15 years old. At the moment I was told that I had a future in engineering and this program would help me when I became a junior in highschool. So when the time came to begin, I didn’t know what to expect. How would this help me, what would I experience, and how would this change me? All of these questions were answered without direct responses, instead they were answered through what I saw with or without my supervisors being aware, which I find very commendable.

The AASEP, allows students to be hired by engineering companies for the summer to learn more about their respected fields. These fields can range from CAD Design, Construction Management, or Water Treatment, and it is a huge opportunity for students like me to learn. The program also makes an effort to make sure that the engineering companies we are recruited into are connected for the improvements of Akron. This is mainly to open the eyes of the students that their skills can help their home, which I will say is the best experience of the program, it fills students with pride for Akron. It also allows interns to practice professionalism, it really made me feel like I was part of the companies I worked for and that the program wanted me to learn from my experiences and use them in the future.

In the end I would encourage any student who is interested in engineering to join the All Akron Student Engineering Program. Without it there still might be uncertainty in mind when it comes to the career I want to explore and I thank the program for the opportunity and knowledge it gave me to help me solidify my decisions.

Sullivan Rogers Jr. Experience AASEP

All-Akron Student Engineering Program

            I first heard about the All-Akron Student Engineering Program during my junior year of high school.  I didn’t pay much attention to it because I wasn’t focused at the time, but I knew it was something I was interested in. So, during my senior year I decided to apply for the program and thankfully I was accepted into it. We had our first meeting at NIHF STEM Middle School and there we talked about Rosie, the tunnel boring machine, and how we, the students, were the future engineers of Akron and how we should come back home after college and make Akron a better place, all in all the meeting was very informative, and well worked.

            Our second meeting was us, the students, meeting our intern employers. It was a great meeting because it let us, meet the people we would be working for in a laid-back environment, we had ice cream and got to talk to our company and get to know them a little more and what they did. I liked this part about the program a lot because instead of just meeting the company the first day of work we got to meet and talk them beforehand. 

            The closing ceremony for the program was great, it was a recognition of everybody who made it through their internship, and a stepping stone for all the future engineers that were in the room. The program was especially nice to me because at the closing ceremony, GPD Group told me to contact them in the spring if I was interested in another internship there. All in all, I think the All-Akron Student Engineering Program is a great service to young engineers, it gets you in the system at a young age, learning the in and outs of a engineering career, It even allows you to start networking yourself while your still in high school. I am very grateful to everyone in the All-Akron Student Engineering Program.

Ever-Changing Field of Engineering

The Ever-Changing Field of Engineering 

by Kayla Hillegass

Kayla Hillegass 2

Engineering is a growing and ever-changing field of work full of problem solvers and go-getters. Yet everyone is not an engineer, which is why learning about a profession before jumping in headfirst is very important when making career choices. Taking part in engineering camps, engineer day events/activities, internships or other enrichment, allows students to learn more about the Engineering field and exposes them to this career more than an internet search could ever do. Some students might not have a close family member or friend that is in their field of interest, so these activities are great exposure to this career.

Everyone would benefit from some type of career exploration to help find their future path and to see how to keep on the road towards their preferred career. High school aged students make these important life decisions before graduation with many unsure or unprepared for life after high school. Exploration in college is an expensive way to decide their career path so internships before college gives students the opportunity to pursue their interests in different careers. Too often students change their major multiple times in college trying to decide what they want to do, costing them both time and money. Giving highschool students the opportunity to see job fields that interest them could help them decide if this is the field of study they want to explore in college.

Taking part in internships during college also helps further enhance the education experience and allows for translation from classroom to real world. Internships let employers impart their knowledge and experience onto a student in hopes that it can help the student decide what they want to do in their life (or not do). Even if the student determines that it is not the field for them, more often than not the people they interact with at a company might have connections or experiences in other fields of work. Networking is the key, so starting early and establishing interest in a field gives the students a chance to make connections with future employers and gives employers future potential employees. Having an early internship or job shadowing experience shows signs of maturity on the students' end to figure out their future career, which is an added bonus to employers especially for future internships or jobs.

Growing up, I always wanted to be a teacher. I felt that it was the best profession to help people because I did not want to go into the medical field at all. It wasn’t until I did a high school project on a future career that I took a step back and realized that maybe I didn’t want to be a teacher, after all. After some encouragement from my parents (and them pointing out very obvious skills that I had in logic, problem solving, math, and science), I did my project on environmental engineering. The school project kickstarted more career searching until I realized that environmental engineering is just a small subset of the future degree that I would be pursuing at the University of Akron: Civil Engineering. I attended some engineering career days and a women in engineering, weeklong summer camp during high school, which further solidified my desireto be a Civil Engineer. Now entering my senior year at UA, I look back on all my internships and early high school engineering activities and can clearly see how beneficial they were in helping me develop as a young engineer and in helping me decide what I want to look for in my future career. I highly encourage high schoolers to explore careers that interest them and learn more about what you want to do with their lives.

 As I finish out my senior year and search for a full-time job, I know that my early engineering experiences and college internships have reinforced my career choice as a civil engineer.