The engineer making his own path

Over the course of three internships, civil engineering major Nick Saia learned this fact of life:

“Your relationship with your boss and others can really change the course of your experience,” he said. “For better or for worse.”

His second internship — the one that wasn’t strictly about engineering — delivered his most profound experience. As the bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for the city of Manhattan, Kansas, he put his engineering education into action.

“I worked with city planners who knew more about engineering than I did,” he said. “But they let me take my own path, which was great. I had agency and responsibility that I hadn’t been given before.”

He spent that summer amending Manhattan’s bicycle and pedestrian city plan.

“I came up with the model to pick out the projects that would lead to the highest safety benefits,” he said. “It was the first time I was able to really think about my role as part of a larger system.”

Saia leveraged his third internship into a full-time engineering job. His next stop after graduation will be with Burns & McDonnell’s transportation department.

“I think my ultimate goal is to return to public service in some way. Because of the opportunities I had at K-State, I know I can take risks,” he said. “I’m not afraid to try something a little bit different.”

What I’ve learned

Impact of philanthropy: The Morse Family Community and Public Policy Scholarship supplemented his salary. “But the best part was the report I had to write about my experience, which caused me to reflect more than I might have.”

Advice to current and future K-Staters: Widen your scope. “Broaden your definition of what your applied-learning experiences might be. I wanted an engineering internship, not the planning one that ended up being very valuable.”

I am interested in these topics

Contact a gift officer