Louis Berger Fellows share experiences, insights on overseas summer internships

November 19, 2015
From left to right: Fellows faculty advisor Bria Holcomb, Jonathan Castaneda, Roman Titov, Channing Bickford, Ai Yamanaka, and Robert Nardi, Louis Berger senior vice president

From left to right: Fellows faculty advisor Bria Holcomb, Jonathan Castaneda, Roman Titov, Channing Bickford, Ai Yamanaka, and Robert Nardi, Louis Berger senior vice president

Now in its sixth year, the Louis Berger Fellows program at the Bloustein School provides the opportunity for graduate students in urban planning or public policy to earn internship credit with one of the leading consulting organizations in the country. At the conclusion of their first year of study at the Bloustein School, fellows embark on a full-time summer internship assigned to one of the company’s international projects while also providing support for the second year of graduate studies at the Bloustein School.

Louis Berger serves clients nationally and internationally to address development, community revitalization, and infrastructure management. Areas of focus include environmental services, program/construction management, transit, highways and bridges, aviation, and energy, as well as other planning, policy, and management activities.

On Wednesday, November 18 the Bloustein School’s four Berger Fellows spoke about their summer internship experiences and assignments. Channing Bickford worked on the Intermodal Passenger Terminal, Yinchuan, Ningxia Province, China; Jonathan Castaneda on a sanitation project in Burunga, Panama; Roman Titov was in Jamaica assisting on the North South Highway project; and Ai Yamanaka was in Paris, where she worked on the Deep Sea Port project in Uruguay and the Port of Tema in Ghana.

“The relationship between the Bloustein School faculty and senior leadership at Louis Berger has been strengthened by the development of this fellowship program,” said Bob Nardi, senior vice president. “The fellowships are an investment in the future of these students, aimed at developing knowledge and professional skills by meaningful involvement in signature company projects underway around the world.”

Roman Titov (third from right) with the Louis Berger construction and engineering team in Jamaica

Roman Titov (third from right) with the Louis Berger construction and engineering team in Jamaica

Roman Titov traveled to Jamaica, where he worked on the North-South Highway project. The project involves the construction of a two-way, four-lane expressway spanning 68 kilometers that will provide the most efficient travel route between vital economic centers in the north-south regions, the capital city of Kingston and the tourist hub of Ocho Rios.

“The internship allowed me to build my awareness to the development gap between countries. Jamaica is in a difficult position to invest its own funds into vital infrastructure projects, but through public-private partnerships, it is able to attract and partner with foreign investors to develop some areas,” said Roman. “Being in country was especially beneficial because it allowed me to witness first hand the hardships experienced by Jamaican citizens, especially since my point of view wasn’t that of a typical tourist confined to the constraints of an all-inclusive resort. I was able to bond with many locals, each of whom expressed the challenges that they faced on a daily basis.”

“The Louis Berger fellowship was an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to see what it would be like to work for a top-tier planning-engineering consulting firm. Not only did this internship use many of the skills I learned at Bloustein, including GIS, statistics, and graphic design, but it also guided me towards other courses that would be useful for a career in transportation planning,” said Ai Yamanaka.

Ai, who traveled to Louis Berger’s Paris office during the summer, conducted a prefeasibility analysis for the new deep-sea port being built along the coast of Uruguay. With guidance from senior transportation planners, she performed a full cost-benefit analysis forecasting commodity demand for the new port based on trade statistics and projected growth rates for the area.

Ai Yamanaka worked in the Louis Berger Paris office over the summer.

Ai Yamanaka worked in the Louis Berger Paris office over the summer.

She also conducted an economic feasibility analysis for select roads surrounding the Port of Tema in Ghana, working primarily with the United Nations transportation modeling software, HDM-4 (Highway Development Model) to examine the effects of projected traffic demands, maintenance costs, and vehicle operating costs on existing and potential new roads in the study area.

“My internship experience far exceeded any expectations I had,” she said. “I was professionally challenged, inspired, and eager to learn more about various transportation projects across the world. I was provided with the opportunity to propose my own solutions, work within a team and across departments, take initiative, receive critical feedback, and work within a deadline. The projects gave me the opportunity to further my skills in statistical analysis, specifically forecasting, deepen my understanding of macroeconomics and regional port trade, and apply my skills in ArcGIS and Adobe InDesign to create visual geospatial representations of the study sites.”

IMG_6183Jonathan Castaneda spent his summer in Panama City, where he worked in the Louis Berger Latin America office on the $700 million project that provided basic sanitation for approximately 45,000 residents in the area of Burunga, west of Panama City, as well as the Urban Renewal Project in the City of Colon on the Atlantic entrance side of the Panama Canal. “Panama is, of course, known for the Panama Canal—one of the most strategic locations in the world for trade. It’s an ethnically diverse area but very unequal economically—almost 12 percent of the population earns 50% of the income,” he said. “Both of the projects I worked on were initiated through the Office of Presidential Promises, which fulfills campaign promises. I worked on the social management plans for both projects, worked on the socioeconomic analyses for the sanitation project’s Environmental Impact Analysis report, as well as GIS and Google Earth maps.”

Channing Bickford at the Yinchaun intermodal transit hub work site.

Channing Bickford at the Yinchaun intermodal transit hub work site.

“Being in Hong Kong afforded me a perspective into the international planning, engineering and consulting industry that I would not have had otherwise,” said Channing Bickford, who spent two months working on several projects out of the Louis Berger Hong Kong office, including the Yinchaun intermodal transit hub and two project bids.

With past professional experience in China and Chinese language experience, Channing translated and synthesized documents to better understand the scope and specifics of the project. He also researched and compiled case studies of intermodal transit hubs in Europe and North America to assist the client’s understanding the function of a transit hub and also see funding options employed by other projects.

In addition, he participated in the annual technical exchange between the Highway Planning and Design Institute (HPDI) and Louis Berger in Beijing, and had the opportunity to tour the 14-mile long Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge in southern China. “Being able to see this technically challenging combination of artificial islands, bridges and a tunnel while under construction was an important part of my internship experience,” he said. “The insight I gained into planning and engineering on mega projects from the international array of engineers and planners was invaluable. The fellowship experience allowed me to further hone my career trajectory and gave me knowledge and skills that will set me apart from my peers.”

Following the student presentations, representatives from Louis Berger were on hand to answer questions about the company and fellowship opportunities during an informal information session.

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