At Civiltech, we understand that our ultimate clients are the communities affected by our projects. We strive to ensure that our work has a positive impact. We work to build client trust, and we look for opportunities to volunteer and give back. We encourage and support our team’s community outreach and volunteerism both as a firm and as individuals. We are proud of the robust community outreach activities in which our staff participated in 2019 both as a company and through individual efforts.
Civiltech continued a longstanding tradition of celebrating Take Your Child to Work Day (TYCWD) in April. This outreach effort requires dozens of volunteers to ensure that our grade-school age participants have a fun and meaningful day. The kids participate in engineering activities, such as egg catapults and Popsicle stick structures, as well as fun events such as piloting drones and enjoying a feature movie. We love TYCWD as it teaches the youngsters a little bit about engineering, but they also get to see how mom or dad spends their day.
In November, we made a donation to the Elk Grove Village Food Pantry. Our efforts provided over 300 items to the pantry. Also, we continued our holiday tradition of kicking off our staff holiday party by first packing boxes at the Schaumburg location of Feed My Starving Children. The Civiltech team, together with another group of volunteers, packed 306 boxes of food which represents 66,096 meals and feeds 181 children for a year!
While we participate in the FMSC program annually as a company, Civiltech employees often choose to volunteer on their own time with their own families, both locally and while traveling. This year, Civiltech’s Joe Emry, P.E. and his family packed meals at FMSC in Eagan, Minnesota while traveling over the holidays.
Promoting STEM Through Student Outreach
As Civiltech is part of the Chicago Neighborhood Engineering and Construction Team (C*NECT), we have the privilege of providing services in every neighborhood in Chicago. The C*NECT team has partnered with Embarc, a Chicago non-profit organization that provides community-driven, experience-based learning opportunities to low income high school students to inspire and prepare them for college and career success. Civiltech’s C*NECT staff continued robust student outreach efforts over the course of 2019, providing classroom experiences and on-site journeys for students from several CPS schools.
In April, C*NECT team members accompanied students from Wendell Phillips Academy on a tour of Jardine Water Purification Plant, the largest water filtration plant in the world located right here in Chicago. Located just north of Navy Pier, the plant filters nearly one billion gallons of Lake Michigan water per day. The students learned about the process from Department of Water Management officials, who led the tour through the control rooms, intakes, filtration basins, underground maze of pipes, and testing laboratories.
C*NECT staff joined students from Fenger High School in November for a tour of CDOT’s new 41st Street Pedestrian Bridge. Tour guides included the project’s Resident Engineers from H.W. Lochner and Transystems. After the tour, Civiltech hosted the students in our Chicago office for a bridge building exercise. The students constructed bridges that spanned six inches, and the winning structure was determined by the structure’s ability to support a Styrofoam cup holding the largest amount of pennies.
C*NECT and Embarc’s outreach activities do not end when school is out in the summer. In July, students involved in the summer Embarc program attended a tour of the CTA’s new 95th Street station. During this presentation, the students learned about the importance of transit for residents of the city and the CTA’s ideas to improve transit access and equity.
As we head into the New Year, C*NECT and Embarc have many more exciting and meaningful adventures planned. On-site tours and office experience opportunities will continue in February and a community social is planned for March.
Civiltech’s transportation planning staff also participated in an Embarc activity. In January of 2019, the transportation planning team gave an urban planning presentation to a group of Embarc students at Fenger Academy High School. The presentation focused on urban planning as a career path. The students also participated in high-level planning exercises based on identifying problems and solutions with the area around their school.
Civiltech strives to support college students in their educational journey and career exploration as well. As a company, we attend several collegiate career fairs throughout the year and strive to not only hire many summer interns, but ensure that their time at Civiltech provides a fun, rich, and worthwhile educational experience. In November, Civiltech participated in the 14th Annual ITE (Institute of Transportation Engineers) Student Day. Civiltech’s Anmol Shrivastava, P.E., PTOE serves as Illinois ITE’s Director of Student Affairs and was an active participant in the coordination and planning of the ITE Student Day. Our participation included having a booth at the event’s career fair and sponsoring the event’s luncheon. We then invited students to our Chicago office giving them the opportunity to visit a working civil engineering firm and ask questions to our staff about a career in civil engineering. In fact, one of those students was recently hired as a designer in our Chicago office!
Civiltech staff are often invited back to their alma maters to participate in events providing inspiration and insight. In April, Jen Hyman, P.E. returned to Purdue to participate in a panel discussion at Juniors Exploring Engineering at Purdue (JEEP). This event is geared towards young women in their junior year of high school, providing them the opportunity to learn more about an education and career in engineering.
Supporting students interested in learning about engineering is important to Civiltech, and we often host job shadowing days. A Civiltech job shadow day is packed full of interesting activities that expose students to the wide variety of professional services we offer and the variety of choices a transportation engineering degree can provide.
Our student outreach also extends to the classroom. In March, Shirley Choi, P.E.; Jen Hyman, P.E.; and Kyle Mishler, our Director of Operations, spent an afternoon at Hinsdale Central High School giving a presentation on career paths for women in the engineering field. The young women were very interested in how Shirley and Jen chose their engineering path and the colleges they attended. We are proud of all of the women engineers and technical staff at Civiltech. We appreciate the opportunity to provide role models and encourage young women to pursue a path in a STEM related profession.
Civiltech’s Environmental Scientist, Samantha Primer, volunteers every other Tuesday assisting grade school students at Ogden Elementary with reading. Her work is part of Working in the Schools (WITS), a program that pairs community volunteers with students and teachers within Chicago Public Schools to provide supplementary literacy programming for students that need extra time to work on their reading and comprehension skills. WITS is the largest activator of year-long corporate volunteer programming in Chicago Public Schools and provides various opportunities for volunteers to engage with students.
Volunteer Time Off
Civiltech staff individually volunteer in a wide range of activities throughout the year. Civiltech supports its staff’s efforts with a Volunteer Time Off (VTO) Program. Through this program we aim to collectively make a distinctive contribution to the communities in which we work, live, and play through the establishment of effective partnerships and programs that make the best use of the energies and skills of our employees. We believe this to be a benefit to the community and to our employees themselves.
In December, Civiltech’s Steve Pautsch, P.E., PTOE worked with the Northern Fox Valley Chapter of Habitat for Humanity utilizing VTO time. He will be working on this house more in the New Year and will have the opportunity to meet the family at the House Blessing in April. Steve did this work as part of Civiltech’s Volunteer Time Off Program.
Jim Woods, P.E., PTOE uses VTO time assisting with a breakfast and clean up shift at DuPage Pads, an interim overnight housing program. In addition to overnight housing, PADS provides support services to enable individuals to receive casement management, life coaching, and employment support.
We’re thrilled with all we were able to achieve in 2019 and the important contributions our staff made to our communities and the world at large. We look forward to expanding our programs, our opportunities, and our outreach throughout the New Year.