Q&A: Lindsey Conlan '18, Site/Civil Engineer at Langan

Tuesday, Feb 5, 2019

Lindsey shares details about working as a site/civil engineer and what experiences prepared her for this opportunity.

What will you be doing after graduation?

After graduation, I will be working as a site/civil engineer for Langan in San Francisco, California. Langan is a mid-sized civil, geotechnical and environmental engineering consulting firm with about 1,000 employees worldwide. Their San Francisco, CA office has about 50 people and the team that I will be on, site and civil engineering, has about 12 people on it.

At Langan, I will be able to pursue my professional engineering license by working under their certified engineers. I also hope to get involved with the green building community in California, which is very active.

What are you looking forward to most about this opportunity?

Langan takes on interdisciplinary projects that span their variety of services and I am excited that I will have the opportunity to learn about them. I'm excited to see building and redevelopment projects become a reality after all the work that is put into designing them. I'm also really excited about the environment that I will be working in. At Princeton, I enjoyed being a part of Princeton's smallest engineering department, civil and environmental engineering, and I think that the team in San Francisco will have a similar feel.  

What are a few experiences that helped you realize this post-graduation plan was a good first step for you?

This decision certainly took a long time to make. The most helpful experiences by far were through [the Center for Career Development]. I worked one-on-one to revise my cover letters, network with alumni and finally to review my job offers. [the Center for Career Development] also provided talks on graduate school, trips to the All Ivy Career Fair and online resources that I utilized during my job search process over all four years.

In addition to all of the formal services offered, I appreciated the support and coaching from advisers when I felt like I was stuck or worried about my future. My Princeton summer and school year experiences also had a big impact on my decision-making process. First of all, I knew that I wanted to get a master's degree, but I realized that I was not ready to choose a course of study after being made aware of all the options through [the Center for Career Development] and conversations with professors.

In order to figure out what area I wanted to specialize in, I decided that it made the most sense to work in industry first to get a better idea of which degree I would need to do the work that interested me the most. In terms of choosing the types of positions to apply to, I knew from the summer internship at AECOM that I was more interested in buildings than transportation engineering, so I tailored my applications to that. Finally, I was looking for a company that would support me as I pursued my professional engineering license and a masters degree. Langan meets all of these qualities plus provides other opportunities for mentoring and professional development.

What courses inspired you most while at Princeton?

The classes that inspired me the most at Princeton were my interdisciplinary ones. I enjoyed seeing the way that computer science and architecture came together in Computational Design, environmental science and the humanities in Environmental Imaginings and Global Change, and history and structural engineering in A Social and Multidimensional Exploration of Structures. In each of these classes, the professors brought multiple disciplines together and opened my eyes to new possibilities and coalitions between different groups of people. I think that these types of classes, that can shift your paradigm for viewing a topic or discipline, are the most impactful.

What did you do the summer after your first year at Princeton?

I worked with the cooling and heating for Architecturally Optimized Systems (CHAOS) Lab on a Campus as a Lab project during the summer of 2015. We used large atrium spaces on Princeton University’s campus to study the occurrence of the stack effect and temperature and humidity variations throughout the day. I coded and assembled distributed temperature and humidity sensors using sparkcores and arduinos. I placed these sensors throughout the buildings and then analyzed the data that I recorded in MatLab.

Because of my contributions to the project, I am listed as a co-author on the paper, “Campus as Lab: Building- and System- Level Air Movement Investigation,” which was published for the Sustainable Built Environment (SBE) Conference in Zurich, Switzerland. It is also being published with the Frontier Built Environment Journal. At the same time, I was working as one of the two summer garden managers for the Forbes Garden. I was responsible for the maintenance of nearly all aspects of the garden including watering, weeding, harvesting and composting. With my co-manager, I organized gardening schedules and planned events for the community to volunteer at as well. I co-led two garden tours and information sessions for local students. We also maintained a blog about the garden.

What did you do the summer after sophomore year?

I worked with the CAD and transportation teams at AECOM in Philadelphia after my sophomore year. I wouldn't have been able to get this position if I hadn't been introduced to employees at AECOM through the Princeternship program.

During the winter of my sophomore year, I participated in the Princeternship program with a graduate alumnus at AECOM. During the site visit, I met a variety of people and learned about their summer intern opportunities. I applied and interviewed a few more times that spring before being offered the position. My responsibilities consisted of modifying plans and section drawings that engineers had made of railroad stations and airports using AutoCAD and Microstation.

I created traffic sign maps, also in Microstation, based on fieldwork that I did in Delaware. The field work projects required me to measure the slopes of pedestrian crosswalks and sidewalks to ensure accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act. During each task, I practiced communicating with engineers and CAD technicians in order to coordinate assignments, which was also a valuable skill to practice.

What did you do the summer after your junior year?

During the spring of my junior year, I independently came up with an idea for a new recycling method for concrete and applied for funding through the Andlinger Center with the support of my faculty adviser, Claire White. I was awarded funding to participate in this competitive summer research internship. I was responsible for creating my own timeline and goals, doing a literature review, attending lab safety classes and preparing and analyzing samples independently.

My novel recycling process uses acid mine drainage to break down cement paste and release aggregate. This method also increases the pH of the acid mine drainage, thus improving the water quality. After initial background research on the processes, I began to design experiments to test the feasibility of this idea. I found that the acid neutralization happens on the time scale of a half day, so it would be feasible on an industrial timescale. I am continuing this project throughout the school year as my senior thesis project. My ultimate goal is to see whether recycled concrete aggregate that has undergone my treatment showed a significant strength increase in comparison to recycled concrete aggregate that had not been treated. I'm excited to report that my process did work as I had hoped!