Hannah Loftis

Constructing a Career: Co-op Experience Leads to Focused Future

By Hannah Loftis, senior in civil & environmental engineering.

As my time at the University of Tennessee comes to a close, I’ve started to reflect on the opportunities and experiences that enhanced my undergraduate career. One experience was my co-op rotations with Brasfield & Gorrie, one of the nation’s largest general contractors.

I began my first co-op rotation in Asheville, North Carolina in Spring 2018. There, my position involved working directly with project managers to oversee the construction of Mission Hospital. I was exposed to real-world problems that project managers encounter daily on site. My second rotation was in Nashville, Tennessee, working as a pre-construction co-op. During this term, I coordinated with the pre-construction team to create budgets and cost estimations for developing projects. Because of my positive experiences, I chose to spend my third term again in Nashville as a project management co-op on the construction of Asurion’s new headquarters. Having spent all three terms with Brasfield & Gorrie, I was entrusted with more responsibility and higher involvement. I developed a safety logistics plan that ensured individuals on site knew what to do in case of an unexpected emergency situation.

I am thankful for how impactful these experiences were on my undergraduate and future career. All three rotations have helped develop me into the more capable student and engineer that I am today.

An unexpected benefit of my co-op rotations was how it enhanced my classroom experience. It was because of my work experience in construction that I was chosen to be a part of the inaugural interdisciplinary senior design course. I was appointed by my peers to lead a project where we are creating an alert system activated by Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) violations on a construction site. This groundbreaking project has the potential to save countless lives, if utilized effectively. My work experience honed my management skills and has helped me effectively manage my team.

Due to these experiences and others, I currently work as an intern with the UT Office of Sustainability. My efforts are focused toward projects that will reduce stormwater runoff on campus. It is my hope that the legacy I leave with this office will provide a firm foundation for the university to continue its commitment to a greener future.

Going on co-op was one of the best and most beneficial decisions I made in my undergraduate career, and it is one that will continue to help me far into the future.

For more information on how to obtain co-ops and internships, please visit the Engineering Professional Practice Office.

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