Adrienne Fung ’14, AECOM

Adrienne-FungMy Princeternship at the AECOM water management offices was tremendously inspiring. I was able to hear from many engineers and gain a clear idea of engineering consulting and the water industry. After a day of shadowing consultants, attending phone conferences, and learning about their projects, I definitely plan on pursuing a career in water engineering.

On a cold January morning, I took NJ Transit and the SEPTA to the AECOM offices in Philadelphia. It was a great pleasure to meet my host, Jacob Rainwater ’01, and I immediately forgot all about how cold it had been as he warmly welcomed me. He gave me a tour around the offices, and told me about his academic and career path, along with valuable pieces of advice. His supervisor, Manny Parada, dropped by to meet me and to update him on a project. Afterwards, Jacob made a call to a client to ask for some missing information. As it was nearing ten o’clock, I joined Manny in a conference call regarding a major wastewater treatment plant in Philadelphia. It was exciting to see a project engineer in action – interacting with the developer and contractor, explaining why certain decisions were made, and discussing them with the other participants.

About an hour into the meeting, I was free to join Jacob and other company employees for lunch. We had a mini celebration for someone’s birthday at the nearby food court, and during lunch, I conversed with Jacob and his coworkers and learned a little about each of their backgrounds. When we returned to the office, I met with other consultants to learn about their individual responsibilities. One was a chemical engineer, and he told me about his transition to water engineering. Another recently earned her Master’s Degree in civil engineering and is now preparing for the Professional Engineer License exam. It was fascinating to hear their perspectives on the dynamics of the water management industry. Afterwards, I attended a meeting about a set of sketches proposed by the design team at the AECOM office in Massachusetts. This was followed by a phone conference with the same designers to determine what needed to be improved and what was to stay the same.

When this meeting ended, they presented me with my own task! One of their current projects involves altering a pipe system Fung 1at an airport. There was a large book of drawings of the pipe network and zoom-ups of individual pipe designs. I was to locate a specific pipe they needed information about. After flipping back and forth, however, and also asking Jacob, I determined that the drawing had not been provided by the client, and so they would have to be contacted. This was my most valuable experience of the day because I was taking an actual part in the consulting process. It gave me a chance to investigate a design book and analyze the various figures. I also learned about the decision-making process of why that given pipe was so important.

It was now past 5:00, and Jacob had to catch the train home soon. He walked me to the station, and I simply could not believe that only a day had gone by, yet I had learned so much. I have been strongly motivated to work on water projects in the future. Jacob and his fellow engineering consultants all do such great work to improve the lives of people in a safe and sustainable way. It was an honor to spend the day with them, and I am sincerely grateful to Jacob for being my host. He arranged for me to join the phone conferences and speak with other consultants, and most importantly, he inspired me to pursue a career where I can nurture my passion for engineering and work with others to better address the needs of society and the environment.