Back to Your Roots: Graduate Engineer Visits Alma Mater

November 13, 2015 by Russell Yeager

At BIG RED DOG, we love giving back to our community and helping students who are aspiring
engineers. On October 28th, Katherine Lopez, a 2013 graduate of Texas A&M Kingsville, traveled to her Alma Mater with Russell Yeager, our San Antonio office’s Vice President, to learn about TAMUK’s College of Engineering, speak with soon-to-be graduates who wanted to learn more about BIG RED DOG, and offer assistance with upcoming expansion projects. The trip was wrapped up with a meet and greet with civil and architectural engineering students. Now a BIG RED DOG Graduate Engineer, Katherine shares what her experience traveling back to her Alma Mater was like, what she wishes she knew when she was still a student and her advice for other aspiring professionals who are in the same boat as she was not long ago.

Katherine Lopez

1.What have you learned about the engineering field since you graduated?

Since graduating in May 2013, I have recognized that there is so much knowledge transferred from one generation to the next. Each project and experience is a lesson learned to become a more knowledgeable engineer. It’s okay to not know everything right out of the door from graduation. It’s a matter of taking all those lessons learned and turn them into positives that can be used to move full speed ahead on projects.

Civil Engineering has so many different fields: structural, geotechnical, transportation, hydrology, and construction. Coming out of engineering school, you are taught the “theory” and given the advice that each of these “theories” can be used in various practical applications. It’s a matter of honing all that knowledge and knowing how that “theory” can be applied to your job. Since graduating, I have definitely held close to all my engineering books because you never know how it will help both in the workplace and when studying for the Professional Engineer license exam.

2. What was it like going back to A&M Kingsville?

Going back to Kingsville was both very joyful and humbling. The last time I was actually in Kingsville was the day after I graduated with my degree. It was that day when I took the big move from Kingsville to San Antonio. Overall, it was a truly joyful experience to see and be remembered by each of my engineering professors along with the Dean. To come back was truly one of the most amazing days in my career thus far. Throughout school I dreamed of moving to the “big city” so coming back to my Kingsville roots was humbling. It brought back a flood of memories of staying up 48 hours straight just to finish a project, and late nights at the engineering complex and Jernigan Library. It was a grounding reminder of how far I have taken myself both in my personal life and career.

3. What did you share with the students?

During my time with the students, I shared stories about my journey while in college and thus far in my career. I shared my personal story of how I managed my time while in school. I also talked about the engineers who forever changed my life, Mr. Charlie Cardenas, P.E. and Ms. Gabrielle Escamilla, P.E. Both are professional engineers who graduated from TAMUK and have become lifelong mentors for me. I encouraged the students to stay involved with engineering organizations, get that leadership position, volunteer in the community, and keep those connections. While in school, I had the honor of acting as President of Chi Epsilon – Civil Engineer Honor Society at TAMUK. Having that position helped me grow my skills and become a good leader to my fellow peers.

4. What do you wish you had known when you were in their shoes?

Nobody is perfect coming right out of college. When looking for a company to work for out of school and a place to settle down, find a place with personal significance and a company that will help you achieve long-term career goals. Finding a respectable company and/or government entity that will help mold you to become a great engineer is essential. Every student should know that having an internship while in school helps to open so many doors. Personally, I was fortunate enough to have an internship with the City of Corpus Christi. As we say at BRD, “relationships matter.” While in college, keep those relationships with your peers and professors because someday you may need to contact them for a reference, open records request, project related information, etc. For all you know the guy sitting next to you in your Construction Materials class may someday be your reviewer for a project you one day submit to the city!

Go Hogs Go!

BIG RED DOG Engineering and Consulting is always looking for exceptional candidates to join our team. For an opportunity to work together with the best designers and engineers (and clients) in the State of Texas, please send your cover letter and professional resume to: [email protected]

Written by Russell Yeager

Russell Yeager

As Market Director for our Commercial Services practice, Russell Yeager is responsible for managing our Raving Fans and prospective clients, overseeing the performance of our project design teams, steering our brand marketing strategy, and spearheading our community outreach and volunteer efforts. Russell is a proud University of Texas graduate – Hook ‘Em! He and his wife Jordan live in Northwest San Antonio.