A Year in the Works: A Record of Engineering and Management Experience at Freese and Nichols, Inc.



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This manuscript presents the author's experience as a fulltime graduate engineer at Freese and Nichols, Inc. (FNI), a professional engineering an servicebased consulting firm, as a Record of Study (ROS) for the Doctor of Engineering (DE) degree at Texas A&M University. Through the course of the internship, the author was to familiarize himself with FNI organizational procedures and fulfill established internship objectives concerning technical, managerial, strategic, and societal achievement. In meeting the above requirements, the author describes the history and key aspects of the FNI business, discusses established managerial procedures at FNI, presents direct work experience on projects during the DE internship period, and presents outcomes towards the internship objectives. FNI has a storied history, and the FNI business model centers around its ability to sell its employees time on projects; it requires technical expertise and client relationships that facilitate selection for the work. FNI's organizational structure and managerial procedures are designed to emphasize the company's differentiated strategy towards high quality customer service. The author worked on several projects throughout the internship; however, the primary role was via the Highlands Bond Program, which involved the design of multiple water resources structures. Through the awareness of the FNI business concept and these projects, the key outcomes of the DE internship were noted, as numbered below. 1) The author fulfilled all internship objectives. 2) As a function of the projects, technical/engineering skills were applied and learned, and a greater appreciation for the interconnectedness of technical disciplines was developed. 3) The author concluded that the Assistant Project Manager (APM) role, of which the author served while on the internship, offers significant managerial and strategic benefits to FNI, and that the role can facilitate faster individual growth and greater project ownership. 4) Strategically, all projects are important in a business, even if they are less technically advanced. 5) Recommendations that could potentially improve the engineering programs at Texas A&M include a) providing greater emphasis on developing the soft skills of engineering, and b) potentially adding dam management/design and pipeline/pump station design to the water resources portions of the Texas A&M Curriculum. 6) The author noted that FNI is a well-managed company, and that his observations during the DE internship reinforced this statement.