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Note: Emily Perkins is a members of the class of 2022. She was a member of the rifle team. (Photo Credits: American Society of Civil Engineers)

Emily Perkins, EIT, SM ASCE, 22, graduated from The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, in May with a bachelor of science degree and a structural design internship with the South Carolina-based engineering firm Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson Inc. Took a job as an engineer. She was one of the new faces of civil engineering of ASCE – College Honors in 2021.

Working in a science, technology, engineering, or math field and helping people attracted him from a young age, but his initial post-graduation plans to major in civil engineering and join the Navy unexpectedly backfired. Derailed. She quickly moved in a new direction. Here’s how he did it:

Civil Engineering Online: How did you get interested in civil engineering?

EP: I’ve been building a lot of Legos. It was our main Christmas gift, so we had this giant Lego city. My dad also did civil engineering, so it was very enjoyable. I knew I wanted to do something in STEM. I found civil engineering more as a resource to help people than other STEM fields. I just enjoyed creating structures that people could use.

Why did you study civil engineering at Garh?

I grew up in Charleston, in South Carolina, so it was a place I knew, and they had a great program.

How did you go about finding your first job?

Originally, I was supposed to be in the Navy as a nuclear officer. I was on scholarship, but then I had surgery and wasn’t eligible anymore, so it was a bit stressful. I talked to some of my teachers, and one of them recommended me to JMT, where I’m currently working. That’s how I came in contact with the company.

When did you realize that the Navy was not going to advance and you had to change direction?

I realized that about three months before graduation, I was going to shift to civil work instead of a commission in the Navy. This was too little time for me to change my efforts and thoughts and plan for a different future. It was very challenging, but I practiced many ways to manage my time and stress. I spent a significant amount of time planning to pass my engineering fundamentals exam before graduation, which is the first step in getting your PE license, because I knew it would help me appeal to engineering firms after graduation. Will get I scheduled several meetings with professors, asking them for advice and guidance on what priorities were going forward and how to approach local engineering firms. Although this time was very stressful for me, I was also excited to pursue my interest in structural engineering after graduation.

Were there any teachers in the Citadel who helped you?

Two professors who helped me a lot during that period were Kuweku Brown, PhD, PE, and John Ryan, PhD, PE, Dr. Brown helped me make and receive many applications during my four years at The Citadel. Scholarships and Awards through the Citadel’s Civil Engineering Department. During the countdown to my graduation, I had several meetings with Dr. Brown, where he gave me advice on how to approach civil engineering firms for interviews, and he pointed me to several engineering firms that suited my interests. Was Dr. Ryan generously gave me advice on how to make the transition to the civilian workforce in such a short amount of time. Dr. Ryan eventually recommended me to the Vice President of JMT, the company I decided to move to after graduation.

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