Architectural Engineering major Garrett Jones has had the unique opportunity to participate in a cooperative education program with Buro Happold, one of the leading engineering and consulting companies in the building industry. Much like an internship, but longer and paid, the co-op program allows students to gain valuable experience applying knowledge and skills in a real-world work environment while earning academic credits.
Garrett believes the reputation of the University of Texas and the department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering (CAEE) afforded him this “amazing opportunity” with Buro Happold. “The department garnered the attention of one of the partners of the firm,” says Garrett, “and consequently our program is now a model for the future of building engineering.”
Originally from Virginia, Garrett spent most of his school years in Dripping Springs, just outside of Austin. His lifelong interests in math, science, and art, led him to the field of Architectural Engineering. Garrett chose UT, impressed by the school’s reputation and academic success, and was especially drawn to the prestige of the CAEE program.
Garrett feels that the CAEE program, particularly the accessibility to faculty and a variety of materials, prepared him for success in his work with Buro Happold. “The push for high-end structural analysis and computational software is a personal favorite of mine, and I am incredibly thankful that we are exposed to so much,” says Garrett. “My co-op with Buro Happold demanded a considerable amount of knowledge concerning new BIM and analysis software.” He also credits the department’s efforts to expose students to real problem solving as a great advantage. “This skill gave me confidence while working and will give any student a leg-up in the job market.”
After spending six months in L.A. during his co-op program, Garrett was happy to return to Austin. “Austin offers all of the pulls that a large city has, such as great music, entertainment, and social industries,” he says. “Austin also has, however, the incredible integration of parks and other outdoor venues that few cities can match. It is a health-conscious city with a young population and an outlook that generally promotes progress, be it academic or otherwise.”
Garrett also took part in the Project for Underserved Communities class, which he says was instrumental in learning many aspects of running a project. During this two-semester class, the team of engineers worked with Bechtel Engineering to provide renovations and amenities for a school in Soyo, Angola. “The process involved international meetings and considerations,” explains Garrett, “as well as training and learning in a progressive business mindset. Not many universities or departments offer such an opportunity.”
Garrett is currently applying to graduate schools and plans to pursue a dual degree in structural engineering and architecture. He says that his work with Buro Happold was “an amazing opportunity to see the grandeur of the international scale of engineering,” and he hopes to firmly plant himself in that market. Garrett wants to specialize in integrated design that “focuses on a holistic approach to design and constructing, ultimately saving the time and money of every party involved.”
Through the organization Student Engineers Educating Kids (SEEK), Garrett takes part in weekly tutoring and mentoring of middle school students. Using hands-on projects that involve basic engineering principles, members of SEEK hope to encourage students to look forward to the opportunities of college. Garrett is also a member of ASCE and AEI.
Garrett makes the most of his precious time off. He enjoys working out, running, playing soccer, making art, and spending time with close friends. A huge fan of Austin’s live music scene, he takes full advantage of the university’s proximity to local music venues. Garrett especially enjoys traveling; he studied abroad in France for seven weeks and traveled to India through a two-week mission trip with the Wesley Foundation.
Offering sound advice for incoming UT students, Garrett says, “Take the time to find out what you truly enjoy about your degree. Then you will be able to be successful because you are truly happy.”