Originally posted on 30/08/2017 

Could you imagine to have to find an internship or minor and that an opportunity of working on a project that will directly improve people’s life would appear? Oh well, that is what happened to Matthew Halley and Carlos Mestre del Pino, third-year students at HZ, in the beginning of this year!

Who are they?

Matthew is from the Netherlands and Carlos from Spain. They met each other at HZ and decided to go on an internship adventure together. They shared this experience with us and you can read it here.

Civil Engineering Students HZ Matthew and Carlos

How did you discover this opportunity?

(Carlos) I discovered it through Matthew, so he can tell you more about it.

(Matthew) I was looking for my first internship and in contact with the lecturers Ms Giuliana Scuderi and Mr Repko. They were in touch with representatives from Scalda about an interesting project and they advised me to join in an interview with the supervisor from Scalda. That was the part I decided it was the project that I wanted to continue with.

What triggered you to do this project?

(M) The part that we were actually would build a bridge and help people convinced me to enjoy the project.

(C) For me definitely the Project Engineer role, not only being leader of a team but working in all the different aspects of the project. Beside calculations and drawings, arranging website and communication and project management are done in this function.

“Arranging sponsorships and contacting suppliers is also a part of it.”

What are your roles in the team?

(M) We are both Project Leaders and we are supervising seven students from Scalda, where five are mechanical engineers and two are from the media team. We have to make sure they are meeting the criteria for their course.

What are the challenges you face as Project Leaders?

(C) In the beginning it was a bit hard, once they are seventeen years-old and we are not much older (laugh). The key was to get everyone start focusing and working. What we do is to take 5 minutes of laugh and we introduce the key tasks of the day then we start working.

(M) There are 7 guys trapped in an office, so you can imagine it gets (a little bit) animated sometimes (hahaha)

No bridge too far team members

“It is a fun atmosphere to work with the team.”

What is the importance of working together, you (as civil engineers) and the scalda students(mechanical engineers)?

“We are more focused on the structural calculations and in the system as a total.

They are more focused on the details of the connections. They are quite good in the drawing of the connections itselves, with 3D models. Their skills in modelling are adding in the visualization of the project.

We have completely different skill sets. While the civil engineers bring in the calculations, they bring their ability of visualising in the 3D design. These guys are insanely good at it."

"In the end we complete each other in the tasks.”

How was your experience in the field in Morocco?

“We were in Morocco for one week.”

(C) It was a great trip in both personal and professional ways. We got to meet different engineering bureaus. Also we got a land surveying of the area, what provided us with a clear topographic map of the region. The goal was that we would be doing it ourselves, although one of the companies that we visited they took the time to help us and the survey was done in one day.

(M) The guy just jumped in his car and said: “Let’s go!”


“So we had more time to think about different aspects of the area, walk around the area and finding out about the obstacles and possible better locations for the bridge. We got time to analyse our site and see what are the possibilities. We marked the location where we want the foundations, and found that we will have a span of around 30 meters for the bridge. Before that we had mainly pictures of the area and water levels and it was not sufficient to do the design.”

No bridge too far members in Morocco

Was the area as expected from the pictures you had previously?

(M) No it was totally different. In order to design the foundations, for example, you need to have all right measurements and a clear topographic data is needed.

What is the biggest challenge that you have encountered in this internship?

(M) Sponsorship I think is a challenge. Motivating companies to help is not an easy task, specially do to our base location not being well known.

(C) Relating to teamwork it has been pretty good. As supervisors, analysing the members within their skills and what they are comfortable working with and dividing tasks in order to have the best efficiency. Nevertheless budget is definitely a challenge, because much time could be saved by hiring a third company to help with other fields.

What are the differences from the projects developed in class?

(M) The university provides you with an specific problem and they would tell you what type of bridge you should design and build, and they you go ahead and calculate. Here we have the location and from there we have the freedom to design whatever fits better. Although there is also the complication that it has to be a relatively cheap design and has to meet the european standards.

Was it fun to do develop a real project like that?

"It’s been amazing."

(C) It is fun but it is very challenging, and a lot of stress. Many new activities coming up everyday and you have a week plan, but the planning needs always to be adapted to this changing. We expected some delays, but that was wow…

(M) Also because we were used to make planning based on calculations, drawings and reports needed along the way, although you don’t plan in long phone calls with a client or contractor, few hours communicating by email, individual team meetings that may be needed along the week…

(C) and you don’t plan in other people delays, which is a major issue that has been faced in this project.

How is the support from the teachers in the project?

(M) The support has been fantastic from Scalda and HZ. They are always available for helping us when there are questions about the project, designing and calculating. We are actually considered as colleagues.

What is the goal of this internship?

(M) The goal is to have all the theoretical aspects of this bridge design done, with maintenance plan, logistics plans, implementation plan, complete designs, calculations and drawings, and the money. So, to have everything done so the company we are cooperating in Morocco would be able to start with the construction.

(C) And we we are going to continue with the supervision of this project while we are doing our following our studies next semester, in order to keep the contact that we have made so far.

Would you like to help this project to go forward? Here you can be part of it by giving your donation.

Interested in this project? Check our Interview with Mr Boutghrit, the project initiator.

Did you like our mates experience? Check this blogpost about the next steps of our Alumni Hilary, she had her internship experience in Indonesia!

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Laatst aangepast op: 10-07-2024