KINGSTON, R.I. – May 25, 2006 – Many college students have built their campus communities through involvement in student government, fraternity and sorority life or other activities.
But very few can say they have worked on building projects that are central to their campus learning and living communities.
Barrington resident Brian Hughes, who earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Rhode Island on Sunday, and Smithfield resident Lindsey Desjarlais, who also earned her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering on Sunday, are two who can be counted among those few. They are finishing two-year internships with the Gilbane Building Co., the program manager for the residence hall and dining hall projects on the Kingston Campus.
Gilbane is obviously pleased with Hughes and Desjarlais because the company hired them for full-time positions even before they marched in the commencement procession. They both will remain on the job at URI. Desjarlais’ position is office engineer, which involves review and management of paperwork for the projects, and Hughes’ job is area superintendent. He assists the superintendent with managing the trades on the site.
URI is in the midst of building new residence halls that will house 800 students in apartment- and suite-style units, as well as renovating five existing residence halls.
Desjarlais started her internship in Gilbane’s main office in Providence working on special projects, while Hughes was first assigned to Norfolk, Mass. where he worked on the construction of the new King Philip Middle School.
The dean’s list students said it has been extremely satisfying working on the campus construction projects.
“I enjoyed being able to stay on the job site,” Desjarlais said. “I am not really an inside, sit-at-the desk-kind of person. You get to see these projects come alive, but if you are an engineer, you just work with the paper.”
She’s been at the URI job site since last August. “I liked seeing how Heathman residence hall was gutted, and then playing a role in the restoration. Working on Heathman was cool because I lived there for two years,” said the member of Phi Sigma Sigma sorority and the Greek Honor Society.”
Hughes has been in construction nearly his whole life, since his father and grandfather have been in the business. “My family has always been friendly with the Gilbanes. When I was a kid, Mr. (William) Gilbane would ask me when I was going to come work for the company.”
He decided to work with Gilbane on a trial basis because “I like working directly with my hands.”
Hughes said he was inspired by Rhode Island Supreme Court Justice Frank Williams, who spoke at commencement and urged new graduates to consider working as craftsmen, carpenters and plumbers.
Hughes added that he has a strong sense of pride in the role he is playing with the URI projects. “My parents are psyched that I have a job, and they want me to work for Gilbane because they know what a good company it is,” Hughes said.
Smithfield resident Lindsey Desjarlais, who earned her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from URI on Sunday, and Barrington resident Brian Hughes, who earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, pose in front of the construction site for the new student apartments at URI. They finished their internships with Gilbane Building Co., this week and are now employees of the company. URI News Bureau photo by Michael Salerno Photography.