Manhattan College Engineering Student Interns for New NY Bridge Project with Sights on the Future

Ishmael Mejia ’16 describes his current internship with the New NY Bridge and relays plans for after graduation in 2016.

Manhattan College junior Ishmael Mejia may have already sealed the fate of his future with a handshake. 

The civil engineering student walked into a Tarrytown office building one day this winter on assignment for class, and couldn’t have predicted what came next. After introducing himself to his now-supervisor at the New NY Bridge Project, Mejia wound up an intern with its community outreach team. He has played an active role since then raising awareness about the twin-span bridge, which is operated by the New York State Thruway Authority and will replace the Tappan Zee.

“My supervisor said I got the job because of the way I presented myself, and that you can learn a lot about a person on a first impression,” says Mejia, whose role as an outreach intern for the New NY Bridge community outreach team is  to answer technical questions from students at local schools including his alma mater, Sleepy Hollow High School. According to the organization, garnering public support for the $3.9 billion project is vitally important since its result will affect all motorists traveling between Westchester and Rockland counties, as well as create jobs in the metropolitan area. 

“From the beginning, Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed that the bridge project be the most open, transparent and inclusive infrastructure project in New York state history,” says Brian Conybeare, who serves as his special advisor. “That’s we have such a dedicated staff and do so much community outreach.”

Mejia is hoping one of those staff jobs will be his in May of 2016, when he leaves Manhattan and sets his sights on landing a permanent position at an engineering or construction firm operating under Tappan Zee Constructors LLC, the design-build consortium   heading up the New NY Bridge building process.

“Working on this project is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Mejia says. “You’re not just building a structure; it’s a landmark that brings together so many different cultures.”

According to Mejia, engineers from Manhattan make up the greatest percentage of those helping to build the bridge than from any other college. “We’re running the show,” he adds. “People in the area are aware of how great our school’s engineering program is.”

Not only is Manhattan renowned in the area for its programs, it’s also well known for its approach to providing students with a well-rounded knowledge of social, spiritual and humanitarian issues.

“The school offers courses that connect humanity and religion with a number of social and physical sciences,” he says. “Because of that, students are getting the whole perspective. It’s a holistic education.”

As Mejia continues to fulfill his requirements for graduation next year with an eye on the New NY Bridge, he will set his sights on the various remodeling projects handled by ISH Construction, a small company he founded that specializes in carpentry and masonry and he created as a way to gain more experience in the industry. In the future Mejia hopes to open his own engineering consulting firm. 

“I started ISH Construction because I love building,” Meja says. “It’s a very complex business so I needed to get a head start on my own. But there’s still a lot I have to learn.” 

Photo Credit: New York State Thruway Authority. 

MC Staff