What is Gannett Fleming’s AEC Scholarship Program?
For the 2020 school year, Gannett Fleming awarded two exceptional students each with a $5,000 scholarship. Celeste Fieberg, a mechanical engineering and German major at Lafayette College, received the 2020 Gannett Fleming AEC Women’s Scholarship, and Tyler Myrick, a civil engineering major at Villanova University, received the 2020 Gannett Fleming AEC Scholarship.
Continue reading to find out how our award winners knew they wanted to become engineers, what they see for the future of the AEC industry, and what their plans are after graduation!
WHEN DID YOU KNOW THAT YOU WANTED TO BE AN ENGINEER?
Celeste: Since high school, I wanted to choose a field that enabled me to combat climate change. I attended a small high school in Central Kentucky where engineering classes were not offered. Instead, I took AP Environmental Science, and I became fascinated with environmental sustainability. I went out of my way to create a feasibility study to promote the switch from Styrofoam to reusable cafeteria plates at my school.
I entered Lafayette College as a general engineering major and continued to search for environmental applications when choosing the engineering field. Through my relationships with professors, initiative in networking, and my independent research, I confirmed my passion for mechanical engineering. My initial conversation with Professor Amy Van Asselt about my choice in major led me to pursue research opportunities that generated my interest in research pertaining to the smart grid, the integration of renewable energy, and the design of smart HVAC systems. I have also made an initiative to network with professional engineers in fields of interest and gained valuable insight into a variety of industries, graduate schools, and national labs. This insight allows me to envision my future career in mechanical engineering.
Tyler: I knew I wanted to be an engineer going into high school. When I was in eighth grade, I had a teacher who said his only goal was to teach his students to solve problems. That is what really inspired me to consider engineering.
WHAT ABOUT ENGINEERING AND THE AEC INDUSTRY ENERGIZES YOU?
Celeste: Buildings account for a large part of the energy consumption in the U.S. The AEC industry interests me because there is currently a large push to make buildings smarter, more energy efficient, more resilient, and more sustainable. I want to be a part of this transition toward the sustainable construction of buildings. I am interested in high-performance buildings and renewables integration. My current professional aspirations are to work with home energy management systems; the development of smart heating, ventilation, air-condition, and refrigeration (HVAC&R) systems; or the integration of renewables onto the grid.
Tyler: The innovation of engineering is what motivates me – being able to turn your ideas into creative possibilities that can help other people.
HOW DO YOU SEE FUTURE ENGINEERS IN YOUR GENERATION PLAYING A ROLE IN HELPING BUSINESSES, COMMUNITIES, AND AEC FIRMS LIKE GANNETT FLEMING?
Celeste: Future engineers in the AEC industry play an enormous role in helping businesses and communities. The quality, use, and resilience of a building have major impacts on its residents and occupants. Buildings will play a huge role in the upcoming years in reducing our overall energy consumption.
Tyler: Throughout this generation, there is a move toward acceptance. When ideas are verbalized and communicated amongst members, it becomes a catalyst for positive change. These changes will help to establish the future of businesses and companies.
WHAT HAVE BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU'VE FACED AS AN AEC STUDENT?
Celeste: Being a woman in engineering has its fair share of challenges, as I tend to be one of few women in my engineering classes. However, Lafayette has made an effort to admit more women in engineering, and I have formed great relationships with the women in my engineering classes.
Tyler: I would say my biggest challenge would be the vast overarching field that is reflected with being an AEC student. There are so many disciplines and being able to choose which ones to focus on and pursue can feel overwhelming at first.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST REWARDING PART OF BEING AN AEC STUDENT?
Celeste: Lafayette College has great engineering faculty that have made a positive impact on my experience as an engineering student. I am grateful to have wonderful mentors in engineering, including professors, students, and alumni. Professor Van Asselt has been an amazing mentor, professor, and research and academic advisor during my past three years at Lafayette, and she has helped me develop essential research skills that are incredibly useful. I also appreciate the shared bond between the women engineering students in my class. I hope to one day give back to this community, which has greatly supported me.
Tyler: I feel like the knowledge and connections that I have made by being an AEC student have been the greatest rewards. I have always had a love for problem solving. Now I am pursuing a career in a field that fits that perfectly.
HOW DO YOU THINK THE AEC INDUSTRY CAN BE MORE DIVERSE AND INCLUSIVE?
Celeste: I am not an expert on this topic, but there are many ways in which the AEC industry can be more diverse and inclusive, such as creating an inclusive environment to encourage more young people to enter engineering.
Tyler: Inclusion is all about making sure all people feel involved. As long as there is a culture that makes people feel comfortable to share their ideas, there is a firm foundation for inclusion.
HOW DO YOU THINK THE AEC INDUSTRY CAN BE MORE DIVERSE AND INCLUSIVE?
Celeste: This scholarship will help pay for my tuition next year, and it will help me to advance my educational career and earn a degree in mechanical engineering. It will also greatly aid me in my search for a career in engineering after graduation. I am honored to receive this scholarship and truly grateful for this opportunity to continue my undergraduate degree.
Tyler: This scholarship is a little reminder to continue striving to be a leader. When you receive a blessing, it motivates you to continue the path to success that you’re already heading down.
ARE YOU A MEMBER OF ANY COMMITTEES, PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS, OR OTHER GROUPS?
Celeste: I take part in a wide range of extracurricular groups at Lafayette College, both inside and outside engineering.
I am currently the Treasurer of the Pennsylvania Epsilon Chapter of Tau Beta Pi and a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) at Lafayette College and The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).
I was also recently elected president of the International Students Association after leading International Orientation as head peer advisor this past year. I am president of Le Cercle Français, Lafayette College’s French Club, and I also work with the Lafayette College French Department to partner with New York City Francophone high school students in the Partenariat d’Amitié (PAL) college-prep program. Lastly, I am a member of Refugee Action, a student organization that helps resettle refugee families in the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania.
Tyler: I am a member of the American Society for Civil Engineers (ASCE) and a member of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE).
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO OUTSIDE OF WORK AND SCHOOL?
Celeste: My personal hobbies are running, making art, reading, and playing piano and guitar.
Tyler: I love to play basketball, and I spend a lot of time listening to music and playing my ukulele. I also watch a lot of movies.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR SOMEONE WHO IS INTERESTED IN PURSUING A CAREER IN THE AEC INDUSTRY?
Celeste: Throughout my time as an engineering student, I have learned the value of being curious and asking questions. I would emphasize the importance of striving to learn more and delving into topics of interest more deeply as you never know where this curiosity may lead you.
Tyler: My advice would be to take a step back and look at what drives them. If they are passionate about problem solving and helping others, then there are a lot of jobs in the AEC industry they could pursue.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOLLOWING GRADUATION?
Celeste: I plan to take a gap year and pursue an internship abroad. I then plan to attend graduate school to pursue mechanical engineering with a focus in energy systems.
Tyler: As of now, I plan to either pursue a career as a project manager or as a structural engineer. I am still focused on taking classes that will help me narrow in on a path.