When he isn’t experimenting in the engineering lab or defying the laws of logic for the American Society of Civil Engineer’s annual Concrete Canoe Competition, recent Texas Prairie View A&M University graduate Steven Lewis enjoys spending part of his time as a career mentor for high school students.
Lewis, a transportation major with a focus on roadway engineering, is currently on his way to earning advanced college degrees, a professional engineering license, and a career that he says fits with his lifelong interest in the way structures like roads and bridges are built.
“I’m interested in the minute aspects that go into constructing the buildings or bridges or other transportation structures that are out there,” said Lewis. “Making things better than what they are is what drives me to just keep working and staying with it.”
Last year, his senior project involved testing an experimental type of concrete in the lab under extreme temperature conditions, which could eventually help roadway engineers design and build structures that last longer over time and are less susceptible to damages from weathering, earthquakes, and vehicle loads. He also participated in the American Society of Civil Engineer’s Concrete Canoe Competition, giving him the opportunity to put his imagination and engineering skills to work.
Today, Lewis is inspired to share his advice with younger students who are not yet settled on their post-high school plans. In particular, he says he thinks students should be willing to explore a number of options before ruling out any career possibilities.
“I always wanted to be a basketball player. I thought I wanted to be a wrestler, too,” said Lewis.
It was an introductory drafting course in high school that motivated Lewis to pursue transportation in college. Shortly after enrolling at Prairie View, he discovered that his transportation engineering courses were not only the most interesting to him, but provided the most diverse array of career opportunities to explore.
“I find my transportation courses to be the most interesting because transportation is so broad; it’s many things that it can be broken down into. You can do anything with transportation,” Lewis said.
But Lewis also had to develop skills like time management to succeed in college, advice which he shares with other students today.
“I had to make out a schedule so it wouldn’t interfere with anything else, and I also had to learn not to procrastinate on anything,” he said. “I learned that commitment is something I needed to be successful in my college career for transportation.”
Lewis encourages students to consider more than one option when thinking about their career goals. To dream of being a sports star or a music industry icon is an amazing goal, but being limited in his options might have prevented Lewis from discovering his true calling in transportation.
“I believe I will always have a passion for transportation,” he said. “I’m glad to have the privilege of being able to get into a career that just fits my lifelong interests, and something I’d also be skilled in as well. So stay positive. Just keep on pushing forward, and you’ll be able to achieve anything.”