Beyond the Degree

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The next time you go for a drive around town, pay attention to the landscape. All around us, structures line the roads that we drive every day. Most of us don’t give the roads or buildings a second thought, but through the eyes of a civil engineering technician, the entire world looks different.

Civil engineering is a discipline that tackles several aspects of manmade structures like buildings, roads, canals, and others. From the initial design concept to the planning and construction, this is a field that oversees the framework that eventually comes to life in our immediate infrastructure.

Laura Salas, architectural and engineering design technology program chair at South Texas College, shares the two specialties in this program —  architectural and visual technology or architectural and civil engineering technology.

“We’ve really invested and made a commitment to our students and to our local community,” Salas said. “We want to train our students so that they become pioneers in these fields, making it easier for them to market their projects.”

Students who complete this program can expect to work anywhere related to the architectural engineering construction industry: architectural firms, engineering firms, and even construction firms.

STC student and civil engineering technician Connie Granados recalls her experience throughout the Architectural & Engineering Technology (AEDT) program, admitting that it has felt surreal at times.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think ‘I’m going to design a building,’” Granados said. “You can walk into your own design and think ‘wow, I designed that.’”

From planning to designing to building, civil engineering technicians assist civil engineers on projects and are critical during all stages of the process. Some of the skills required in this field of work include critical thinking, decision making, problem solving, math, and observation, among others.

As Granados looks back at the moment she initially enrolled at STC, she realizes the program has a special place in her heart. “I really fell in love with it,” she said. “It was rewarding.”

With professors who have been there to guide her every step of the way, she feels fully prepared for the job she currently has.

In addition to equipping them with the tools to become successful beyond the program, STC aims to encourage women to enroll in male-dominated programs.

“Being a woman 20 years ago in this type of field was a bit challenging,” Salas said. “Now, there is a lot of support and a lot of teamwork and it is something that we need to continue to provide for our students because they are the ones that are going to move our community forward.”

According to the 2020-21 STC Catalog, a high percentage of the current technical and managerial positions in the industry are occupied by the engineers. According to a 2019 study by Society of Women, only 13 percent of those engineers are women.

Though she acknowledges the reality of the statistics in place, Granados knows there is room for improvement. Times are changing and education is, too. She firmly believes that anyone can pursue a career in engineering, no matter what stigmas there might be.

“I have really learned to appreciate the AEDT program because you don’t see a lot of women in the field,” Granados said. “If you decide you want to pursue a career in drafting, engineering, architecture, I think [STC] is a great start.

“Nobody should say you can’t do this or that —  ultimately, it’s your decision,” she added. “I think women have as good of an opportunity as men do —  we’re equal in what we do. I highly recommend women go and try this program.”

There are many areas of focus when it comes to the AEDT program offered at STC. Civil Engineering Technology falls under the umbrella of an Associate of Science degree. This degree presents students with the opportunity to enroll in a core curriculum consisting of general education with an emphasis on civil engineering, preparing them for a brighter future.

Possible engineering career pathways upon completion of sequence offered at STC:

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Agriculture Engineering
  • Bioengineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Computer Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Manufacturing Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Nuclear Engineering
  • Petroleum Engineering
  • Radiological Health Engineering

Learn more about this program and other career paths at South Texas College by visiting https://catalog.southtexascollege.edu/

Have you considered a career in civil engineering? #JoinTheConversation at facebook.com/rgvisionmagazine.