The Kentucky Derby wasn’t the only thing that happened on the first Saturday of May. This past weekend also saw the first of a wave of college graduations. As they continue through the month, I want to take a moment to congratulate each of the graduates. I especially want to highlight those students who earned degrees in civil engineering and construction-related fields for a number of reasons.
First, these graduates will be designing and implementing FRP infrastructure products for decades to come. Many of them have already begun to think ahead. We get a lot of calls and emails from students asking about our FRP bridge products. These contacts are usually prompted by higher-level course work requiring students to accomplish a difficult design posed by their “client.” As they research solutions, these students quickly come to understand the benefits of using FRP bridge decking. Just like their practicing counterparts, the students want basic information, structural details and the all-important cost estimates. We provide as much information as we can. Once they enter the world of infrastructure, we want them to look at FRP structures as a “tool” in their tool box.
Secondly, I can talk about several examples where the students we assisted with educational information eventually designed FRP decking in bridges after joining the workforce. That is rewarding because it means we contributed to the education process and Composite Advantage supplies long-lasting FRP decking.
As part of the outreach, I make presentations at civil engineering seminars at many universities. Besides talking just about FRP structures, I talk about what the job entails; what they can do to keep learning; and the potential that exists to own a business dedicated to making products.
Most of the inquiries we received involved pedestrian bridges ranging in size from short trail bridges to larger signature bridges. A few inquiries involved vehicle bridges and several targeted rails-to-trails. A number of student groups were conducting real-world research and designs for local parks while others expressed interest in shared use paths. It sounds like many of these graduates won’t be hanging up their bicycles any time soon. Since the start of the recent school year in August 2017, we have communicated with over 225 students from around the world.
Finally, this graduation season is particularly special to me because it’s personal. One of my daughters is graduating with a civil engineering degree and going to work as construction engineer. She has already helped build a bridge in Central America to connect a remote village to larger communities. Many colleges and students do well tying together technology, learning and service to others. Just one more reason to remain positive about the future.