Civil Engineering Student Spends Summer Exploring Electrical Engineering

Leslie Lima, a 19-year-old soon-to-be sophomore at Merrimack, has found a unique way to spend her hot summer days. As an electrical engineering intern for SMMA — an architecture, engineering, and design firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts — the civil engineering major has been attending site visits with professional civil engineers and encountering real-world issues during lengthy department meetings.

Lima is one of 12 interns participating in the first year of SMMA’s Integrated Internship Program.

During the first month, Lima shadowed the Site Department — which consists of civil engineers, landscape architects, and project managers — and worked on LEED documentation for the firm’s biggest project at the time, Somerville High School. “The shadowing phase allowed us to experience how other disciplines tie into a well-practiced design,” she said.

The focus of the second month was a collaborative project in which two teams worked on separate designs for a proposed addition to the existing Somerville Public Library. “Each team developed a different design based off a program we created as a guideline. We will be presenting our designs to the whole firm,” said Lima.

Through this experience, Lima was able to directly contribute to the advancement of SMMA’s mission by researching and recommending new software options. “By applying their existing lighting calculation tool, I provided input on the process and began research on a new tool to be utilized by the electrical department,” she stated. “After researching and testing out the new software, I concluded that it was a better fit for the department. I will soon host a presentation to propose the transition in software, which, I hope, will be followed by approval and application.”

In preparation to apply for this internship, Lima often attended appointments with her career advisor at The O’Brien Center for Career Development at Merrimack, where she received tips on résumé development and interview skills. “The various career fairs I attended served as professional conversation practice. In these events I often encountered interview questions, which allowed me to better identify what assets I can bring to a company,” she said.

After completing her undergraduate degree, Lima plans to return to Merrimack to complete a master’s in engineering management, and to fulfill all necessary requirements to achieve a professional engineering license. “In between all of that, I would love to begin a civil engineering career full of growth, travel, and leadership,” she said.


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