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Mentor of the Month | Eric Huefner

After graduating from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2009, Eric started as a junior engineer at Urban Engineers in Buffalo then moved to Philly in 2011 to begin working for Langan Engineering & Environmental Services.

As a site/civil (or land development) engineer, Eric works on the site and infrastructure that surrounds and supports a building. He has been fortunate to work on projects in a wide variety of market sectors (parks and bike trails, industrial, medical, hospitality, institutional, etc.) and across the globe (from South Philly to Istanbul)!

In high school, Eric took a series of introductory courses related to engineering and computer-integrated manufacturing through a program called Project Lead The Way. The teachers there were very engaging, and were the reason he decided to pursue a degree in engineering.

Knowing that not everyone has access to that type of STEM-focused program, Eric wanted the opportunity to give back to students.  Through ACE, he became a mentor in the 2011-2012 school year.

As a mentor, Eric has been surprised by how much the mentors learn from each other.  He said, “Every year, I glean some useful information about the building industry when the architects or other engineers on our team talk to our students; it might be seeing them work through a certain thought process or demonstrate a piece of software that I’m not familiar with.  Being able to share my experience with the students, and do it alongside a group of talented and passionate mentors, has been incredibly rewarding.”

Eric has also found that while teaching students about his line of work, he has to challenge himself to think about his work from a different perspective in order to explain basic concepts so that someone with no prior context can understand them.

With his team, Eric typically works on project-based curriculum, which has always been a great experience for his students. This year, though, he’s trying out a workshop-based program and is excited to dig a *little* further into each discipline without worrying about trying to shoehorn the lesson into the context of the final project.

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These workshop-based programs have also given him the chance to add some great new field trips to his team’s schedule, mentioning specifically that they, “…recently visited the Fairmount Water Works for a tour and a demonstration of how urban development affects our watersheds, which was a learning experience for both the students and mentors.”

When asked what Eric would be doing if he was not busy being a civil engineer, he responded, “I’ve been playing drums for 20-some years now and music is a big passion of mine, so my knee-jerk answer to that question is hitting the road with a band. But I’ve also been doing some casual reading on urban planning and design lately, from Jane Jacobs to Janette Sadik-Khan, and I could see myself really enjoying work in a planning-related field.”

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