George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Mason Engineering student builds career with summer internship

July 22, 2019   /   by Ryley McGinnis

Construction site on Fairfax Campus

Civil and infrastructure engineering student Nick Farmer is honing his engineering skills during an internship this summer with the Whiting-Turner Contracting Company on the Fairfax Campus.

The transformation of construction projects from blueprints to buildings is part of what originally drew civil and infrastructure engineering student Nick Farmer into the field of civil engineering. Farmer is spending his summer applying his passion for construction to George Mason University’s core campus construction project, right in the middle of campus.

Farmer is working as an intern with the Whiting-Turner Contracting Company on the Robinson Building project on the Fairfax Campus. He didn’t know that when he accepted the internship that he wouldn’t be going far from his classrooms.

“All they told me originally was I would be on a site in the area, but I was surprised and excited when I found out that the construction site was here at Mason,” says Farmer.

As part of the project team, Farmer revises design plans so that contractors and subcontractors can stay up to date, but Farmer also makes sure to spend some time in the heat out on the job site each day to see those plans come to fruition.

“It doesn’t always come out exactly how you imagined based on a 2D model, but it’s cool to see how it gets there,” says Farmer.

“I always played with Legos as a kid,” says Farmer, “but besides that, I thought that I may want to design, and I was originally interested in architecture.”

After researching the differences between architecture and engineering, he decided to turn his focus to civil engineering where he found his passion for construction, as opposed to design.  “I thought the design aspect [of civil engineering] was pretty close to architecture, and the construction side is very different from both of these, so I pursued construction and hopped on the first internship I could find.” 

Farmer found his first internship with the Anderson Company, like his current one, at the Mason STEM career fair his freshman year. There he learned about excavation, but after that internship, he wanted to learn more about general contracting, which is what led him to the Whiting-Turner Contracting Company this summer.

Farmer’s initial excitement hasn’t waned as he has been learning how much collaboration is needed to pull off the six-story, 218,000-square-foot building.

“We have very detailed ‘push-pull’ meetings every week,” Farmer says. “I kind of geeked out when I saw the planning graph where the subcontractors detail what happens on each section of the construction site each day.”

Farmer hopes to absorb more knowledge and experience with the Whiting-Turner Contracting Company but is looking forward to his senior year at Mason as well.

“I’m excited to see the project keep growing and expanding, even though I won’t be on the project,” says Farmer. “Oh, and graduation.”