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Kevin Spytko '11

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Understanding the importance of engineering’s real-world applications is the key to success in college and beyond; at least that’s what we hear from senior Kevin Spytko.

“I’ve learned from experience that just knowing the engineering principles and theories isn’t enough when you get out in the real world. You have to have a practical, hands-on education to really prepare yourself well,” he says.

A civil engineering major from Richfield Springs, N.Y., Kevin has had some real experience to back up his claim, including three summer internships with the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) as a construction inspector and two individual research projects.

“I like that I’ve had many opportunities to gain actual engineering experience, not just reading about it in a textbook,” he adds.

With the NYSDOT, Kevin inspected paving operations, bridge rehabilitation projects, and earthwork projects. He was responsible for assuring that the work was done up to NYSDOT standards and specifications. “My job commanded a lot of communication with the contractors in order to get the job done right,” he says. “It was a lot of responsibility for a college student.”

In his first undergraduate research project with Prof. Sulapha Peethamparan, he helped construct, test and troubleshoot a device used to monitor chemical shrinkage in hydrated cement. With this research, engineers are more able to effectively design concrete, given their greater knowledge of the curing characteristics.

In the current research, he is working with Prof. Kerop Janoyan on the real-time structural monitoring of wind turbines. “This research could be used to monitor the structural health of wind turbines and give advance warning if the structure is in danger of failing,” he explains. “This will really help the people who work with the turbines on a daily basis.”

Aside from his research, Kevin hones his engineering skills through the Steel Bridge SPEED (Student Projects in Engineering Experience & Design) team, where he competes with other New York state universities by designing and building a 20-foot steel bridge. This is especially helpful when it comes to his concentrations in construction management and structural engineering.

“Just having all of these great hands-on opportunities has really helped me step up my game in terms of being ready to work in the field after graduation,” says Kevin. “I want to work in a small- to mid-size firm after I leave Clarkson, so at least I feel comfortable knowing what I’m getting myself into.”

Kevin Spytko