Liam Emson & Colin Meek Share Their GHT Senior Experience
Each year, Yorktown High School hosts a program called Senior Experience, which provides an opportunity during the last three weeks of high school for interested seniors to participate in a unique transitional learning opportunity outside the school. This full-time experience can take more than one form, but it generally pairs a senior with a company in the senior’s chosen field of interest with whom that student will work and/or serve as an intern.
Our Senior Experience was at GHT Limited, an MEP engineering consulting firm in Arlington, VA. GHT helps with the design and construction of buildings, whether they are new or existing buildings. As an MEP (mechanical, electrical, plumbing) firm, they are responsible for a project’s air ventilation, pipe lines, and electric systems. Their office was located just a short walk from the Ballston Metro station in Arlington. While we were there, we met with the different departments that contribute to the company’s success and we got practical experience helping out in each of them.
During our time here, Kristine Barr, Director of Project Management & Administration, taught us that the administration is the hub of any office. They are the ones who help get projects for the employees and keep everyone on track. They manage parts of the budget and help respond to RFIs if necessary. With this many people in one company, it could be hard to keep everyone on the same page. The administrative team here have done an excellent job in managing 100+ employees and keeping everyone focused. Organization skills will help us in all aspects of our life. If a person is detail-oriented, it makes others more likely to work with them and makes doing that work easier. We have seen that the skills learned from GHT’s Administrative Department, are useful in becoming an invaluable asset to any company, and that lesson will follow us moving forward into our professional journeys.
GHT’s Operations and Energy Services (OES) Studio was one of the most difficult sections to wrap our heads around, but Laura Morder and Catherine Jones made it much easier. Laura gave us a quick overview on how they resolve client’s problems, whatever they may be. She then walked with us around the office to take data on the sound levels in the company’s three departments. I can now say with quantifiable evidence that Interiors is the loudest department of all at GHT. Later that day, Catherine taught us about energy modeling, which is a different side of the OES work where they create a computer model of energy systems to analyze them.
We also learned how to use AutoCAD to zone out a building for temperature and air needs. This activity gave us hands-on experience with common engineering software, which will be helpful in the future when we take classes on those programs in college. Laura and Catherine wrapped up our time with OES by reminding us how important it is to maintain a good relationship with clients and how it is always worth going the extra mile to make them happy.
We started off our three-week internship in the Interiors Studio at GHT. We sat down with Electrical Engineer, Josef Lalimarmo, as he taught us about the complex coordination between the architect and the MEP engineers. He told us about how the architect’s designs must match up with the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing designs, so it is important to have a collaborative partnership for the design phase to run smoothly. He also taught us about how he makes sure all the electrical plans are up to the government code standards. This taught us that communication is an important skill in the working world. Everyone must be on the same page to have a successful project outcome.
One of the best parts about being an intern at GHT was the opportunity to see how the designs on paper and in the computer come to life in the real world. We got to shadow Principal, Jim White on a site visit to 900 F St. in Northwest DC to look at the construction of the Riggs Hotel. While on site, we attended an OAC (Owner Architect Contractor) meeting, where we learned about the coordination necessary to make progress on such a big project. We were able to walk through the building and inspect the work in progress and some of the features that made it unique, such as its historical relevance. It was an old bank in the 1890’s, so we saw how the team is working to conserve that memory, with original vault doors and lobby gates. This experience was extremely influential for young engineers like us, because we got to see how an idea becomes reality, and it allowed us to see some of the fun and pride that comes with designing part of a building. We learned that coordination is key, especially when working with multiple people and companies. This also gave us insight into the joy behind engineering we will not soon forget.
When we came into the building every day, one of the first people we got to see was Kaitlyn O’Connor, the Marketing Coordinator. She is one of the people who helps GHT track down new projects and feature past accomplishments to win work. When I think of engineering, I often picture the programming and building aspects of the job, but it is also very important to look at the business side of the industry. It is fascinating to see the marketing department’s creative minds at work strategizing methods to promote the GHT brand while winning projects. These projects range in size, from millions of square feet down to thousands, and each proposal must change to reflect that. I learned about how website and media design is important to advertise the company to potential clients, and being technology-obsessed teenagers, we loved it. It was amazing to connect my interest in social media, which usually seems to just be a time-waster, to a productive outlet. Looking forward, we have the technological experience to expand company outreach and market ourselves to future business partners.
About the Authors:
Senior at Yorktown High School, Liam Emson will be enrolled in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at George Washington University in the Fall and is looking forward to pursuing a career in the AEC industry; especially after working with GHT for his senior experience. GHT hopes to see Liam come back as a college intern in the future.
Colin Meek, also a senior at Yorktown High School, is off to University of Virginia in the Fall. Colin has not officially declared his major yet but has a serious interest in engineering and was happy to get a better look into the field during his time at GHT. Colin had previously worked with GHT through his Leadership Arlington Youth program and may return as a college intern as well.