Intern Scholarship Winners Announced for 2020

This summer, internships across the country looked different in comparison to previous years. Despite the challenges presented due to COVID-19, Benesch’s summer interns were able to come away from the internship with valuable, hands-on experience – as well as some extra cash for the winners of the annual Student Intern Scholarship.

Each year, Benesch awards a total of $3,000 in scholarship money to five hard-working interns – one intern from each of the firm’s four geographical regions, in addition to one overall recipient. This year’s overall award was presented to Molly Lazar from Northwestern University. The Great Lakes Regional Award went to William Kickert from the University of Illinois, the Great Plains Regional Award to Gabriel Najera from the University of Kansas, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Award to Eric Traupman from Pennsylvania State University, and the Southeast Regional Award to Korbin Hinson from the University of Tennessee.

Working directly with our engineers, each intern contributes to active Benesch projects that align with their area of interest in the AEC industry.

Benesch’s 2020 summer intern group included 40 students in 10 offices. Interns received hands-on experience assisting with structural, civil, construction, geotechnical and environmental projects for clients across the country.

Molly Lazar, Northwestern University

Out of our Milwaukee office, Molly Lazar assisted with the construction inspection for the Michigan Street Lift Bridge as well as several smaller bridge inspection projects in the field.

“This hands-on bridge inspection experience was by far the most rewarding during my time with Benesch. My favorite day involved assisting with the inspection of eight smaller bridges. I found it so interesting to get up close and personal with the existing structures, observe the various states of each bridge, and learn what warrants concern as opposed to what is expected wear,” Lazar described.

By the end of the summer, Lazar had the opportunity to complete a full bridge inspection from start to finish. “It was exciting to not only create the MicroStation layout drawing for a bridge, but also complete a detailed, in-person survey, and assist with the initial partial design documents.”

Impressed with her wide range of valuable contributions over the summer, her supervisor, project manager Bill Zippel, PE, SE, nominated her for Benesch’s Student Intern Scholarship.

“The complex and multi-disciplined construction and inspection projects that we assigned to Molly, projects that may have overwhelmed most young engineers, did not intimidate her,” Zippel said. “Molly seemed to thrive in this working environment, where she had opportunities to learn, ask questions, and understand why and how to complete the project successfully.”

Korbin Hinson, University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Joining Benesch for a second summer in our Brentwood, Tennessee office, Korbin Hinson was able to pick up right where he left off, despite the added complexity of working from home most days due to COVID-19. Tasked with a large inspection project from the Tennessee Department of Transportation, Hinson assisted in developing underwater inspection documents for 59 bridges, including the creation of the location map, and drawing the desired piers in both plan and elevation view.

“Once inspections began, I had the opportunity to take field notes for 20 bridge inspections, conduct a field inspection of three bridges, and write one full inspection report,” Hinson said. “I was really pleased with my progress from last summer to this summer in reading bridge plans – it took me less than half the time it did last summer to draw existing abutments.”

Hinson wasn’t the only one who took notice of his improvements and hard work. His supervisor, senior project manager and structural group manager Jake Williams, PE, SE, credited Hinson’s efforts on the TDOT inspection project with allowing the rest of the staff to stay focused on other important projects during their busy summer season. 

“Given the complications we all faced individually and as a company with COVID-19, Korbin performed very well this summer. He was able to take his experience and understanding from his internship in 2019 and immediately jump in and start working on tasks,” Williams said.

Gabriel Najera, University of Kansas

Another student joining Benesch’s intern program for a second summer in a row, Gabriel Najera was involved with a variety of projects out of the firm’s office in Omaha, Nebraska. His primary contribution involved providing construction inspection services to the City of Omaha on the $23 million Main Street Improvement Project.

“On this project, I kept daily notes for the crews on site, determined quantities of work completed, and ensured client specifications were upheld,” Najera said. “My experience this summer has shown me how much I love working in construction and getting to see something new and different each day. I realized that I really enjoy being a part of making a design come to life.”

Eric Traupman, Penn State University

Providing aspiring engineers with hands-on experience in the office and in the field is an important part of Benesch’s internship program. Equally important is offering experiences in a variety of types of work, so that students are exposed to as many different aspects of the profession as possible.

From Benesch’s Hazleton, Pennsylvania office, Eric Traupman had the experience of working on two projects that were both integral infrastructure projects, but vastly different in size and scope, providing a wide variety of learning opportunities.

“On the large I-80 reconstruction project between Hazelton and White Haven, PA, I was responsible for developing preliminary signing, pavement marking, and delineation plans using MicroStation,” Traupman explained.

He also had the opportunity to work on the roadway evaluation report for potential improvements to the K-route road network within the Borough of West Hazleton, PA. Under the guidance of the Benesch Project Manager, Traupman determined proposed repairs to each roadway, and compiled the roadway evaluation report, which consisted of written descriptions of current conditions, proposed improvements, potential funding sources, and cost estimate summaries.

“Being able to work on a major project such as the I-80 reconstruction, in addition to a local project like the West Hazleton K-Route roadway evaluation opened my eyes to the different types of work involved in the transportation design field,” Traupman said.

William Kickert, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

One of Benesch’s goals through this program is to help bridge the gap between what students learn in their classrooms and how that translates into real-world projects.

“In my transportation classes, we broadly looked at the design of roadways and all the various equations and restrictions set by DOTs, but during my maintenance of traffic work on the I-39 Mainline project, I was able to use and apply those various equations to an actual project,” William Kickert said.

Kickert, an intern working out of Benesch’s Chicago office, also assisted with quantity calculations and structure design on the CNECT projects in downtown Chicago with Benesch project manager Sylvan Popovici, PE.

“William was engaged in the work and learning the process. If he encountered an engineering issue while working on a task, he was willing to offer alternative ideas and solutions,” Popovici said.

Heading back to school this fall, Kickert felt that his experience this summer “re-sparked” his interest in civil engineering. “Overall, I feel that working at Benesch really emphasized the importance of my schoolwork. Having the opportunity to apply what I am learning about was very refreshing.”

Looking for an internship in the AEC industry? Head to our Career Fairs page to find out where and when you can meet us.