Co-ops and internships provide students the perfect opportunity to gain experience within their field, and sometimes can open them up to a new path that they’ve never considered.
And so it went for Logan Smiley.
Smiley, a senior in civil engineering, discovered a new interest through the College of Engineering’s integrated co-op program.
When thinking about his future, he knew that a career in engineering was his perfect path, having become interested in construction at a young age from his grandfather, who was a carpenter.
A year ago, Smiley completed his first co-op with McNally Tunneling Corp. in Cleveland and gained practical experience in the wastewater management industry. He completed another co-op rotation with the company last summer.
“Before working with McNally, I had envisioned myself working on bridges or roadways, but I think my new focus will be on the wastewater side of civil engineering,” Smiley said.
McNally Tunneling Corp. is working on wastewater storage tunnels that transport sewer waste to the water treatment plants. During periods of heavy rainfall, the tunnels are used as storage to prevent sewer overflow wastewater from entering the lake.
Smiley was hands-on involved in the field and put his classroom knowledge to real-world use in various facets — everything from estimating and project scheduling to dealing with subcontracts and accounting.
“I take pride in helping with projects that are reducing the amount of waste entering Lake Erie,” Smiley said. “This co-op has also shown me that there are many opportunities in the world for civil engineers.”
In the spring of 2018, he made his decision to attend The University of Toledo. Smiley, from Carey, knew that UToledo would be able to provide experiences beyond the classroom and relationships with faculty that would boost his confidence.
“From the moment I stepped onto campus, I knew that this was the place I needed to be to succeed because it reminded me a little bit of home,” Smiley said. “While I was visiting the University, I could tell that if I attended this program that I would not be just another number, but instead I would have real opportunities to build relationships with some of the faculty.”
Aside from classes, Smiley has taken on a leadership role by becoming a mentor to six freshmen in the civil engineering department. He meets with them bi-weekly to discuss resources and opportunities available on campus.
“During each meeting we also just talk and catch up so that I can check in on them and make sure that they are not having any major issues during their first semester of college,” Smiley said.
He said that he enjoys the diversity that a multicultural university experience offers, from personal to academic experiences, and aims to help guide fellow students to see that they too have a home in UToledo.
“Attending college has made me a more diverse person and greatly helped me succeed in my different co-ops because I have been able to consider how every person has a different point of view on a problem,” Smiley said, “and when different ideas are collaborated, they usually lead to a more successful solution.”