Clarissa Luo

Clarissa Luo

"In the workplace you apply your knowledge, but you also need to quickly pick up new skills."

Third-year Civil Engineering | Transportation Career Development Program

Watch a video of Clarissa Luo discussing her TCDP experience.

Where are you completing your internship/SECOP placement? Why did you select this company?

I am currently working for the City of London as the Coop Student in the Planning, Environmental and Engineering Services Department, Transportation Planning and Design Division. This placement is part of a three summer Transportation Career Development Program (TCDP) with TCG (now known as Dufferin Construction), the City of London, and AECOM.

What do you hope to gain from this internship/SECOP experience?

As part of the TCDP, my aim is to gain knowledge from three different points of view: the construction company (TCG); a government agency, (City of London); and the consultant (AECOM).

How are you applying knowledge and skills you learned at Western Engineering?

Amazingly enough they don’t lie in first-year design when they introduce new things; they are actually used in the work place! Who would have known they would schedule construction by using a Gantt Chart and I would be required to make engineering drawings to create standards for sidewalk ramps to make them more accessible to those in wheelchairs by controlling the slope, as well as the blind by installing tactile plates. I have also pulled from my first-year programming knowledge of C++ to correct a program that now determines the number of collisions an intersection should have according to it’s geometry, traffic control, and AADT, or the magnitude of traffic flowing through it daily. I can then compare that number to the actual number and pull out certain intersections that are more dangerous than they should be and through observation, determine a preventative method that should be put in place.

At TCG, the job was nothing like what I did in school. The only thing I could apply was my knowledge of how I most successfully learn new things and minor math skills in applying formulas.

What type of roles/experiences have you had at your current placement?

My colleagues in the Engineering division at the City of London are working hard to show me how many different things engineers do, even within one department. I have done everything from measuring intersections for clearances, to attending construction meetings, and inspecting sidewalks for deficiencies to drawing the first draft of sidewalk ramp and tactile plate standards.

Even though at TCG I mainly sampled and tested the quality of asphalt, I also sampled and tested aggregates, sand, and recycled asphalt product. I also worked out in the field, learning how asphalt was laid and at the plant, learning how asphalt was made.

How has the internship/SECOP enhanced your learning experience at Western Engineering?

It really shows you the importance of learning as well as learning how to learn. In the workplace you apply your knowledge but you also need to know how to quickly pick up new skills and knowledge to thrive in the new area of work.

What insights have you gained from this experience that will help you make decisions about your future career?

I have loved every job I have had so far from the TCDP. Although I am now certain I do not want to be working in a quality control lab for the rest of my life, I still know I want to work within transportation engineering.