What Current VDOT Scholars Say

Summer work for engineering scholars is exciting and varied.   Scholars are partnered with professional engineers as their mentors and are assigned real-world work.  They participate in unique developmental activities.

The 2014 engineering scholars were placed throughout the state and held a variety of roles involving:

  • Operations
  • Location & Design
  • Traffic Engineering
  • Structure & Bridge

This is what they had to say about their 2014 summer assignments:

Andrew C. Stanford, a junior majoring in civil engineering at Virginia Military Institute (VMI), with a summer assignment in the Fredericksburg Residency.

“By far the most rewarding experiences at VDOT involved helping citizens resolve problems they believe are important to their communities ranging from simple sign installations to driveway pipes and the paving of rural roads.  Service to country and commonwealth has been a lifelong duty of mine and I believe that VDOT offers a perfect opportunity to serve. While working in Fredericksburg this summer, I was astounded at the resolve and professionalism of my co-workers and supervisors. The environment that permeates through VDOT is one of compassion, professionalism, integrity and most of all service.  But on a more educational perspective, as a young engineering student, you just cannot beat the opportunities offered through this program and VDOT as a whole.  Nowhere else in Virginia can you work on a road one day, be in a board of supervisors for a county government meeting the next and climb all over a rotating bridge and ferry boat the following day.  It is truly an honor to be a part of the “VDOT Family” and I think those of you who wish for a challenging, rewarding and diverse internship or full time job, will find this opportunity through VDOT parallel to none other.”

Bethel Kefyalew, a junior majoring in civil engineering at University of Virginia (UVA), with a summer assignment in Northern Virginia District/Traffic Engineering.

“Before starting work at VDOT, I knew close to nothing about the day to day life of a Civil Engineer. This program has provided me with not only an extensive understanding of the responsibilities of an Engineer, but has also allowed me to become diverse in the field of transportation and maintain an ever-widening network of colleagues. The lessons that I learned through this program were both technical and personal. I had the opportunity to learn how to use different transportation software such as VISSIM and Synchro while also learning to how cultivate interpersonal skills among the different demographics at VDOT. I now consider all of these invaluable. Working in the Traffic Engineering section I was able to experience office work where I would where I would look at different traffic signal plans and become more comfortable with them, as well as field work where I met with a Project Inspector who would walk me through all of the things to look for during an inspection. Throughout my time there I was also able to talk to many consultants and contractors and learn about their role at VDOT. I was also able to work on a couple of inventory projects independently where I went out in the field and collected data that would be used to determine the different high-need areas in NOVA.

One of the greatest things about VDOT is that they want to develop you as a leader, so they walk you through things as you begin to learn it, but they also give you the independence to search for what you’re interested in and pursue those things. I’ve had an experience that I’d never pass up.”

Philip Casteen, a junior majoring in civil engineering at Old Dominion University (ODU), with a summer assignment in Hampton Roads District/Location & Design

“This past summer I was a VDOT scholar at the Hampton Roads District Office. Working for VDOT was a very rewarding experience. I learned first hand about Civil Engineering by working with different divisions within VDOT. I worked in a materials lab for a couple weeks testing concrete and asphalt hot mix, I went out into the field with the environmental division to determine project impact on wetlands, and I spent a lot of time learning about road design criteria. I also spent time with a survey crew doing a bathometric survey for the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel. I learned about the responsibilities of a project manager in the Location and Design division working under licensed engineers. I knew very little about actual civil engineering work before I spent a summer at VDOT. VDOT has given me a wide range of civil engineering experience in very short amount of time. I am thankful for the work I was able to do and people that I work for.”

Andrea Ruano Duke, a junior majoring in civil engineering at Virginia Tech, with a summer assignment in Fredericksburg Residency.

“This past summer I had the opportunity to work for VDOT at the Fredericksburg Residency. If I had to sum up my summer with VDOT in one word, I would use “eye-opening.” Not only did I learn more about the engineering that goes behind solving common transportation problems, but I also learned more about what the agency has to offer. I never imagined there being such a broad range of opportunities! It was also incredibly fascinating to see what a residency’s responsibilities are how they are managed on a day-to-day basis. As an employee at the Fredericksburg Residency, I had the opportunity to spend time both in the office and out in the field. I spent a few weeks working on a daily expense tracker that would allow smaller area headquarters to track their daily expenses and would compare these values to the yearly budget. I also learned about different paving techniques and how they are selected by visiting a recently paved segment of roadway on Route 14. These experiences, along with many more, truly influenced my career path and definitely contributed to my knowledge of civil engineering. Working with district, residency, and area headquarter employees, as well as government officials, really allowed me to see the impact the agency has on the state. VDOT truly presents civil engineering students across the state with an opportunity that rivals no other.

Sung Whan Choi, a senior majoring in civil engineering at George Mason University (GMU), with a summer assignment in Northern Virginia District/Structure & Bridge.

“This past summer, I had a chance to work with VDOT at the Northern Virginia District Office. This opportunity was very rewarding and learned more about what the civil engineers do. I was in the Structure and Bridges Section during the summer time. I had a chance to go out to do a final inspection, bridge inspection, signal pole inspection, and did drawings with using MicroStation. It was interesting because the drawings that I did will be built or some other engineer will use my drawing to do his drawings. There were a lot of responsibilities that I need to carry. When I went out to do a signal pole inspection or bridge inspection, if I do not catch or do not recognize some problem, many citizens could get hurt. Also no other place can be like VDOT. Every week and every day is different. Someday I would be busy doing drawings. The other days, I would be busy doing inspections. Sometimes I went out to do a night work to see and observe replacing or fixing a bridge. I am really happy to be a part of VDOT. Also I am really thankful to VDOT for giving me this wonderful opportunity.”

Click the following link if you are eligible and interested in the Engineering Scholarship Program.

Email questions or comments to scholarship@vdot.virginia.gov.


Page last modified: Oct. 14, 2014