Ever since Andrew Neal was a boy, the environment played a significant role in his life. Under the guidance of his father and the Boy Scouts of America, his appreciation for the outdoors grew into a passion, and it is what motivates him today in his natural-resource engineering career.
Neal, who graduated in May with a degree in Biological Engineering (Natural Resource Engineering option), interned with Parker Surveying Inc. in his hometown of Indiana, Pa., last year.
"Parker Surveying is a relatively small engineering, environmental and surveying consulting firm that does work for both individuals and industry," he said.
While working as an engineering and surveying intern for Parker, Neal completed surveying work on AutoCAD Civil 3D, worked on stormwater management projects using HydroCAD, and participated in wetland delineation by taking soil samples and identifying vegetation. He also worked with field crews, using GPS to locate property boundaries.
"I learned by working with professionals and observing what they were doing and the reasoning behind their process," he said.
"They taught me by example and helped me correct my mistakes. I enjoyed getting an education outside the classroom. I also was encouraged to use knowledge from the classroom during my work experience."
As an example, he cited the use of HydroCAD. "I could understand the math behind the calculations the model was performing thanks to the relevant equations I learned in various stormwater management classes."
Neal, a Schreyer Honors College alumnus, focused on water treatment in the developing world as his thesis topic. He currently works as an air quality engineer for Trinity Consultants, a national air permitting and compliance consulting firm in Wexford, Pa.
"I believe we all have a responsibility to take care of and make good decisions concerning the environment around us," Neal said.
"Taking responsibility requires paying attention and focusing on solutions to the environmental problems we are causing, as well as designing proper environmental management plans."