Wednesday, April 9, 2014
University of New Orleans COE Students Engineer State-of-the-Art Job Fair
More than 250 engineering students turned out on Monday to a career fair created by
Thirty-three leading engineering organizations, from naval architecture and marine
engineering firms to petroleum companies, consulting organizations and government
agencies, participated, with plans to hire summer interns and new graduates.
Many organizations said they treated visits with students as mini-interviews, or as
one representative put it: "A chance to try before you buy."
Students targeted their meetings to meet with organizations in their chosen fields.
Aspiring naval architect Miguel Tovar beelined straight toward Bollinger Shipyards,
Organizers developed a database and software tied to a QR code to register, check
in and track participants, both students and company representatives.
Engineers are known for their abilities to quickly assess situations and problems,
develop plans, create networks and build superior systems that will last. On Monday,
a team of able engineering students put those skills into action at the University
of New Orleans College of Engineering — unveiling a top-notch student-organized and
student-run job fair that demonstrated state-of-the-art coordination.
- Ardaman & Associates, Inc.
Bollinger Shipyards, Inc.
Engineering & Inspection Services, LLC
Eustis Engineering Services, LLC
GE Power Conversion
Keystone Engineering Inc
Linfield, Hunter & Junius Inc.
Modjeski and Masters, Inc.
Progress Rail Services Corporation
Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans
Sirius Technical Services
Spawar Systems Center Atlantic, US Navy
Stuart Consulting Group, Inc.
Sub Surface Tools
Superior Energy Services
Swift Worldwide Resources
Texron Marine & Land Systems
The JM Smucker Company
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Waldemar S. Nelson and Company, Inc.
Willbros Engineers, LLC
"The goal of this job fair is to re-establish relationships between the UNO College
of Engineering and engineering employers in the greater metropolitan area," said Patrick
Deaton, a civil engineer and chief organizer of the fair. "The event is entirely student-run
and the College administration is supporting and encouraging the process."
Student organizations of the UNO College of Engineering — American Association of
Drilling Engineers student section; Engineers without Borders; the American Society
of Civil Engineers; the Society of Women Engineers; the National Society of Black
Engineers; the American Society of Mechanical Engineers; the Society of Naval Architects
and Marine Engineers; the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and Society
of Hispanic Professional Engineers — helped coordinate Monday's College of Engineering
Career Fair, which featured visitors from 33 hiring organizations.
The fair was open to all UNO engineering students. Participating companies all indicated
that they are interested in hiring engineering interns and new graduates.
The event took two months of planning, and brought new ideas and participants as late
as last week, organizers said.
"What these students have done is remarkable," said Norm Whitley, dean of the College
A Novel Introduction
More than 20 percent of the engineering student population registered for the event
in three days, said civil engineer Bradley Deaton, who created a database online and
launched it Friday morning. By Monday, more than 250 students and 100 volunteers had
pre-registered using a free software system the aspiring engineers had connected to
a database they used to create spreadsheets and track all event activities.
Participating students used their smartphones to check-in, snapping a QR code that
brought up an event schedule and event maps on their devices. The same software system
allowed engineers to track availability and participation of volunteers, as well as
monitor arrival times and number of check-ins and track "rush hours" and peak periods.
The system will allow the engineers to improve the stellar event for next year, Deaton
said. It will also allow them to target specific audiences and program curriculums,
assess interests and needs and create recommendations that the College of Engineering
will be able to use long after they graduate.
Danton, who is vice president for the UNO chapter of the American Association of Drilling
Engineers and a former senator for College of Engineering, co-chaired the event with
Deaton, who is treasurer both the Engineers without Borders and the American Association
of Drilling Engineers UNO chapters. The fair started with a plan to invite petroleum
engineers to campus, then quickly grew as they began to work together with fellow
student organizations and their national sponsors.
Participating companies said the event was seamless, allowing them easy check-in and
set-up too. Visiting companies introduced themselves with large-scale poster presentations,
traditional brochures and computer presentations.
"Initially, (the job fair) was for us as students to get as many job opportunities
as possible before graduation," said Danton. "But now it's transitioning into restructuring
the relationships of the University with industry."
Opportunities for Everyone
Aspiring naval architect Miguel Tovar beelined straight for a table hosted by Bollinger
Tovar, a rising senior, spent last summer living in trailers and working at North
American Shipyards in LaRose, La., and was hoping to secure another paid internship
that would help him to advance his skills.
"This is the last internship opportunity I can have because next year I will be graduating,"
said Tovar, who had recently updated his resume for the event. "I would like to have
a full-time job by this time next year."
Tovar spent his last internship drafting plans and drawings for layout, construction
and assembly of structural and mechanical features of vessels, skills he will need
in his future career. He was pleased to find that he was well-prepared for the position
and at the same time learned "a lot," he said. Not only did he gain new vision and
develop his skills, he found valuable professional relationships in a close-knit community.
"I'm more than happy to be studying at UNO and the preparation they give you is related
to what you do," said Tovar. "Structures, Stability, all the classes we take at UNO,
one way or another, we do use them."
Hiring organizations said they viewed the job fair as an opportunity to feel out potential
co-workers, a "try-it-before you-buy-it kind of thing," said Mark Buchert, who hosted
a table for RSC Corporation with fellow UNO alumnus Eric Buras. The electrical engineers,
who graduated from UNO's College of Engineering in 1985, said that they were looking
for electrical engineers to help develop software programming.
A strong alumni presence was felt at the fair. Waldemar S. Nelson and Company, Inc.
employs more than 70 College of Engineering alumni, said Brandon Payne, a mechanical
engineer and event organizer.
"For me, it was an exciting opportunity," said UNO alumna Daisy Pate, a project geologist
at Terracon, a consulting engineering firm with more than 140 offices nationwide,
including one in New Orleans. "I specifically came here personally because I am looking
to hire interns. For me, it was an exciting opportunity."
Pate said she considered meetings with students to be "mini-interviews," allowing
time for employers to "get a feel for someone without all the resource and time demands."
Within one hour, Pate had collected 15 resumes. The majority of her work is focused
on testing the soils during construction for new levees, she said. She also does environmental
work that requires testing soils for contaminants and submissions to the Louisiana
Department of Environmental Quality. Jobs in her field require training and certification.
"The investment I'm going to put into training someone is significant," she said,
explaining that internships are a great testing ground for both parties.