Angeliz Vangas and Hanniah Rodriguez made a big impact serving as interns on the National Forests in North Carolina and are now heading back to school and continuing on their road to success.
As part of the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP), this summer Vangas and Rodriguez interned in the U.S. Forest Service’s engineering department in Asheville, N.C. SCEP provides work experience that is directly related to the student’s academic program or career aspirations and gives students exposure to public service while enhancing their educational goals.
The civil engineering majors are rising seniors at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez and have a passion for engineering. Both are members of the student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers, where they serve as treasurer and secretary, respectively.
The students were introduced to the Forest Service last year when they interned at the agency’s Southern Region headquarters in Atlanta, Ga. There, they were given a crash course on how engineering worked within the agency and assisted with inspections within the national forests.
The energetic duo took what they learned in Atlanta and put it into practice to deliver results in Asheville, N.C. this summer. They were instrumental in developing an application for a $7 million grant to repair many of the damaged roads in the Nantahala, Pisgah, Uwharrie and Croatan National Forests in North Carolina.
They transferred sketches made of the damaged roads to an Auto-CAD, which is used to produce more technical computerized models of the damaged areas. These models are crucial in formulating proposals needed to obtain the grant and to determine how best to repair the roads.
Vangas and Rodriguez said interning with the Forest Service has been an engaging and insightful experience. They enjoyed working in Atlanta last year and the city life that comes with it. They said it has been particularly interesting working in Asheville, N.C. because of its close proximity to the national forests. This proximity provided them with more field work experience and to see the environment that they are affecting.
“It has been really easy to adjust here because everyone has been so welcoming,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez chose to intern with the Forest Service because of the diversity of opportunities. “Working with the Forest Service provides two work scenarios – both field and office work,” she explained.
Vangas echoed these sentiments. “It’s nice using our technical skills to help improve the forests,” she said.
Although they are unsure about what they want to do after graduation, both say they would like to continue working for the Forest Service in civil engineering. They enjoyed learning from and meeting a lot of new people who have been influential on paving their road to becoming civil engineers and perhaps future Forest Service employees.