Cecil College alumnus benefits from engineering pathway

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ABERDEEN, Md. - From an early age, Lucas Calvert was curious about the inner workings of his toys and machines. This inquisitiveness eventually led to his fascination with STEM studies. 

“I was always very interested in architecture, building construction, and the science behind how these things are built,” said Calvert, whose pathway provided him with a strong background in STEM subjects through the Cecil County Public School system. “But, while working as a field technician at a geotechnical (civil) engineering firm, I realized civil engineering was not a match for me.”

In his heart, Calvert knew one of the fields in engineering was in his future. After talking with his high school educators, family members, and friends, he learned that Cecil College offers seven associate degree concentrations in engineering. Additionally, Cecil College has an articulation agreement with Frostburg State University, allowing students to earn their bachelor’s degree in engineering while never leaving Cecil County. 

“The engineering program at Cecil College enabled me to remain at home while also keeping my job during those first two years of college,” said Calvert, who emphasized the support of family, friends, and his faculty motivated him to excel in his studies. 

“Our engineering faculty bring a depth and breadth of experience to their classroom teaching and provide opportunities for the real-world connections that are key to preparing students for further studies or employment,” said Vice-President of Academic Programs Dr. Christy Dryer. “The connection to our regional employers and their feedback regarding curriculum and industry trends facilitates a curriculum that is relevant and valuable.” 

Calvert earned Associate of Science degrees in Civil, Mechanical, and Aerospace Engineering, Physics, and Mathematics from Cecil College, which laid the groundwork for his Bachelor of Science degree in Materials Engineering from Frostburg State University. 

“I believe Cecil’s engineering program prepared me for as smooth a transition as possible into the Frostburg program. By establishing a base of knowledge in both my engineering (statics/dynamics) and higher-level math skills (calculus, differential equations, etc.), I was able to benefit both academically as well as with my overall understanding of the information presented to me,” said Calvert. 

With the support of his instructors, Calvert secured an internship through the USA Jobs network at Aberdeen Proving Grounds. As a student intern, he gained invaluable hands-on experience with material testing and analysis, a variety of instrumentation, test methods, and testing procedures that he otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed to in the classroom.  

In addition, a proven strong work ethic and the skilled training he received during his internship led to his being offered a full-time position with the Aberdeen Test Center, with his time as an intern credited towards his tenure as a federal employee.

“The ability to work during the school year allowed me to continue to support myself financially without worrying about finding temporary work while classes were in session,” said Calvert, who lives in Havre de Grace, Md., with his wife. 

“My time at Cecil College helped me understand the importance of time management. During this time, I was also able to prove to myself what I was capable of accomplishing. Working (sometimes multiple jobs) while maintaining my status as a full-time student was quite overwhelming, but I believe those times helped shape me into who I am today,” added Calvert.

“Cecil College students are held to the highest standards in the classroom so they can attain the skills and confidence needed to succeed in even the most competitive job markets and transfer institutions,” said Cecil College President Dr. Mary Way Bolt. “The engineering program provides a pathway to many transfer institutions, including Frostburg State University. These programs help meet the growing demands of businesses and communities in Cecil County and the surrounding region while providing gainful employment and rewarding futures to our residents.”

As a materials engineer at the Aberdeen Test Center, Calvert supports the evaluation and analysis of testing related to large-caliber weapons proofing, assessment of both hard and soft body armor commodities, high precision measurement through the use of a wide variety of instruments, including FARO arms, optical comparators, and micrometers. In addition, he also supports failure analysis of various test items, nondestructive and destructive material testing, and efforts relating to materials analysis.

Through his work at APG, he continues to enhance his career in engineering to impact the research more effectively being completed by the Aberdeen Test Center. A long-term goal is to become the lead contact for all materials-related testing and analysis for the Aberdeen Test Center.

“Through my internship, I have learned the importance and value of hands-on experience. Understanding how things work and go together is extremely beneficial to an engineer, and I believe it is almost completely overlooked in primary education. These skills and experiences are offered as ‘alternatives’ to a college education when, in reality, a student could benefit from these experiences,” said Calvert of advice he would give to a group of high school students. 

For more information about engineering programs at Cecil College, visit www.cecil.edu/engineering

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