Personalizing a Path With Civil Engineering Co-ops and a Scholarship

Sebastian Lojano, E’24, civil engineering, had co-ops at Bond Brothers, DN Tanks, and Barletta Heavy Construction, which helped him determine his career plans. He was awarded a scholarship from The Moles, a national fraternal organization, for his demonstrated interest in the heavy construction industry.

Main photo: Sebastian Lojano (second from left) at his co-op with DN Tanks.

On family trips to Ecuador during his childhood, Sebastian Lojano, E’24, civil engineering, noticed that the infrastructure was not like what he saw in Miami, where he was raised.

“Dirt roads were prevalent, and the bridges were a little scary sometimes,” Lojano says of the region where his parents grew up. “That’s when I first got interested in civil engineering.”

This summer, he will head back to Ecuador, this time for a family visit before beginning his career as a civil engineer. With a newly minted engineering degree from Northeastern, Lojano is evaluating job options and says the three co-ops he completed are helping him make a decision.

When Lojano began his college search, he considered Northeastern and other universities with reputable civil engineering programs. But on a visit to Northeastern’s Boston campus, a conversation with a student got him very excited about co-op opportunities, so much so that he moved Northeastern to the top of his list.

“I really wanted to have co-op experiences because I knew I wanted to be a civil engineer,” Lojano says. “I wanted to make sure that I would understand what I wanted to do in the future.”

During his time at Northeastern, Lojano was able to personalize a civil engineering co-op plan that provided him with a sequential set of learning experiences.

His first co-op was in the estimating department of the civil and utility division at Bond Brothers, which provides construction management and general contracting services. Lojano supported the team that determined project costs from the early design phases through completed construction. As part of his responsibilities, he would gather key data elements of a project, like concrete and steel costs.

“I did a lot of calling to subcontractors to ask about their quotes on certain aspects of a job,” Lojano says.

At times, he was struck by the fast pace needed to meet project bid deadlines. “I learned that deadlines are very serious,” he adds. “If you don’t make the deadline, you don’t get the option to bid on a job.”

At his second co-op at DN Tanks, which makes prestressed concrete liquid storage tanks, he had various assignments, including assisting with troubleshooting on projects. For example, if a job site reported a problem like a concrete pump breaking down, Lojano would log it in as a critical repair.

His third co-op took place in the fall of his senior year at Barletta Heavy Construction. “I wanted something physically on site, so I could actually see construction,” Lojano says.

He was assigned to a work site in Dorchester, Massachusetts on a project the company is completing for the MBTA, the state’s public transit system. His job was to maintain a log of activity at the site with notes and photos.

“I logged what the subcontractors were doing, what equipment was being used, deliveries that were made, and if any police details were on site,” Lojano says.

As he walked the site, he had the opportunity to talk to workers about the processes underway. “I would talk to the laborers, superintendents, or anybody on site and ask questions about what was taking place and the reason why they were doing something.”

“It was a really big learning experience,” he adds.

During that fall semester, he won a scholarship from The Moles, a national fraternal organization in the heavy construction industry that awards scholarships to students throughout the United States who have demonstrated an interest in that industry. Lojano applied with the help of Ali Touran, professor of civil and environmental engineering, and was selected for a scholarship.

The Moles Scholarship was a great win, Lojano says, not only because of the financial support, but because it provided him an opportunity to attend The Moles scholarship reception in New York City, which turned into a successful networking opportunity.

“There were so many construction people coming together, talking about their companies and what they do,” Lojano says. “I got some good contacts and was really happy with the results.”

In addition, he connected with several peers from other universities. “These were people I would love to be friends with,” Lojano adds. “I was talking with people who have my same kind of passion and just want to succeed.”

Reflecting on that evening and many other Northeastern moments, Lojano says, “the opportunities you are given at Northeastern are some of the most amazing you could ever find.”

Related Departments:Civil & Environmental Engineering