Taking Advantage of a Long-Awaited Co-op Abroad

After two co-ops locally, Reem Gawish, E’24, civil engineering, had her third and final co-op at F-1 in Singapore working at the F-1 racetrack helping the team prepare for the year’s Singapore Grand Prix.

Reem Gawish, E’24, civil engineering, was, like many prospective students, attracted to Northeastern’s co-op program, but she was especially interested in having the chance to go abroad. At the time she applied to Northeastern, she was living in Qatar. She would eventually get the chance to go abroad for a co-op in Singapore, but she stayed close to Boston the first time around.

Her first co-op was at The Lane Construction Corporation as a field engineering intern, which gave her the on-site work experience she wanted, especially after a fully remote year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During her time at The Lane, she mostly focused on a restoration project for the MBTA Red Line. Taking on such a large project with so many parts at work made her admire the coordination and communication between the track and building restoration sides.

“Looking at the building side, there were so many contractors and subcontractors, with all of us having to coordinate 24/7,” Gawish says.

Her next co-op was at Environmental Partners, which gave her a chance to focus on her concentration in environmental engineering. This time, she took on an installation project for the town of Easton’s water main. As the town’s first public water system was installed, Gawish visited on-site every other week to see the installation and repaving of roads take place. Much of her work focused on creating CAD drawings for the project.

“I got to edit water main drawings and coordinate with a lot of project managers,” Gawish says. “It was just a really cool experience seeing a lot of different moving parts of an active project.”

Gawish was particularly inspired by Jacquelyn Tupper, her team lead at Environmental Partners.

Gawish with her fellow F-1 team members in Singapore.

“That co-op was really important for me, and I really loved my supervisors and my team members there and getting to see the work they were doing,” she says.

For her third and final co-op at F-1, Gawish at last had the opportunity to travel abroad to Singapore. Ever since her Dialogue of Civilizations in her first year was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she had been anticipating any possible opportunity abroad. Most of her co-op work took place at an F-1 racetrack as she helped the team prepare for the year’s Singapore Grand Prix. Like her previous two co-ops, her work involved event planning as part of a bigger project, but this time she found herself working under a strict time limit. Thankfully, the collaboration of the team helped everything turn out as expected.

“It was an amazing opportunity to see how, with these huge time budget constraints, these really amazing events came together,” Gawish says. “I think we hosted about 264,000 people for last year’s Grand Prix.”

While taking advantage of this opportunity abroad, Gawish felt very supported by Northeastern, especially because the co-op’s organizer was a Northeastern alumna. The new work culture took time for her to get used to, but she loved her team and enjoyed the company of other co-ops.

“Obviously the big part of engineering is teamwork and collaboration, and I got to see a very different kind of team, not only because of the different work cultures, but also because it was such a different kind of project compared to the other ones I had worked on before,” Gawish says. “We were working on such a tight deadline with so many moving parts, so I think that helped develop my skills as an engineer.”

Gawish says her co-ops were all a lot of fun, but they also gave her a more realistic perspective on engineering. Across her co-ops, she learned that she had to prove herself to earn the huge responsibility she hoped for. In the end, working for what she truly wanted was immensely rewarding.

Gawish with members of the F-1 team on the Singapore Grand Prix racetrack.

“Initially, I wasn’t getting a ton of the responsibility that I had wanted when I started my first co-op, but it developed as I continued to prove myself in that job,” Gawish says. “By the end, I was really proud of the work that I had been able to do, so I think coming in knowing that you have to work your way up to what it is you want to do helps you prove yourself.”

Aside from co-op, Gawish is involved with Phi Sigma Rho, her engineering sorority. She previously served as the director of scholarships and the director of professional development, as well as on the Diversity and Inclusion Board as a research director. She has also been a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers since her first year.

After she graduates, Gawish hopes to center her environmental focus on water treatment.

“My coursework has focused a lot on water treatment and water resources, so the impact that I hope to have is to be able to provide clean water safely,” she says.

Related Departments:Civil & Environmental Engineering