Interns Build their Futures

An innovative internship program uses an on-campus construction project as a site for real-world education.

A select group of engineering students in the Seaver College of Science and Engineering is learning invaluable lessons as hands-on interns during construction of the college’s new Life Sciences building, thanks to internships with the lead contractor, C.W. Driver, and its subcontractors. “This internship program gives our students the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned in their curriculum, to use their classroom knowledge on a project that impacts LMU directly,” says Tina Choe, associate dean of undergraduate studies. Two-dozen students will participate in the intern program during the two years of construction of the $110 million building. The students gain hands-on experience in many facets of the work, including design drawing and submittal reviews and administration. “The internship program allows selected students to work alongside C.W. Driver through the day-to-day activities that a project goes through,” says Matthew Wilt, project manager for C.W. Driver. “This experience has proved to be a great segue from their formal education to the real-world applications of engineering and general contracting.”


Meet three Seaver College students who are interns with C.W. Driver on the Life Sciences building.

“When I started as a C.W Driver intern, it was going to last just one semester,” Britney says. “But I asked to continue [for three] because I enjoyed it so much. Before the internship, I didn’t know that much about what construction was all about, but now I do. I can now see myself going into this industry after I graduate.” She’s grateful to be part of the C.W. Driver team. “What I like about C.W. Driver is that they’re willing to teach me over and above the documentation. They take me out into the field to learn how concepts are applied in real-life scenarios. “I created professional relationships with them. They are my mentors.” “Britney has made such an impact to our team through her hard work, dedication to the project and ‘can-do’ attitude, that we have kept her on the project since we started the intern program last summer,” says C.W. Driver’s Matthew Wilt. “It’s been an amazing opportunity,” Britney continues. “I’ll be able to come back as an alum and say that I worked on that building.



Rachel remembers that her grandfather, a retired soils civil engineer, loved to walk construction sites. Now, as an intern with C.W. Driver helping to build Seaver College’s Life Sciences building, she did the same thing. “I loved watching the new Life Sciences building grow, and that led me to apply for the internship program with C.W. Driver. I applied with enthusiasm.” “This internship opportunity broadened my view on what careers I could pursue with a civil engineering degree,” she explains. “I had no real idea what direction I wanted to go with my future career, but this opportunity helped give me a better sense of what I would like to accomplish. “I’m looking into a career in transportation design, and for that it’s important to know how the construction process works, so that I can design solutions that can be built in the real world effectively. The internship with C.W. Driver gave me that.” And it also gave her a professional outlook. “The internship was a real growing experience. It gave me confidence in myself and experience with professionals. I know more of what’s expected of me when I graduate.



Seeing the connection between classroom instruction and real-world applications made an impact on David. “It was eye-opening to see many of the materials on the white board transferred into documents such as construction drawings,” he says. The internship program prepares Seaver College students to be equipped in their chosen career after graduation, even if that means graduate school. David is currently weighing multiple graduate school offers and his work as an intern provided essential training. “I am now ready for an industry position as an engineer if I choose to pursue one.