Courtesy of Alaina Smith
By Alaina Smith
With a table of white hard hats emblazoned with the Catholic University logo and tripod poster stands lined up in a row, at ten minutes to 5 p.m., Heritage Hall stood ready to welcome students, faculty, and alumni.
On Wednesday, October 19, 2022 the department of engineering held the second annual Hard Hat Ceremony. This event celebrates civil engineering students as they begin their academic careers by gifting them hard hats and high-vis vests. This personal protection equipment is not just protective gear, but for first-year students as well as industry professionals, it represents much more.
In his address to the attendees, Ryan Knox of Clark Construction said, “This is my hard hat, but it is not just a hard hat. My hard hat is a constant reminder of the engineer’s responsibility to be an ethical leader, responsibility to public health and safety, and responsibility to improve our society’s and nation’s infrastructure.”
Just minutes after donning her first hard hat, Eileen Choque remarked, “It is a sign of motivation and hope. You can look to the hard hat and see what you’re working for.”
Dr. Jason Davison of the Department of Civil Engineering began this Hard Hat ceremony one year ago with graduate student Grace Pooley as a means to impact student retention by supporting the self-efficacy of first-year students. The ceremony is modeled after the white-coat ceremony of medicine and contributes to a positive self-identity of burgeoning civil engineers. Davison expects to publish a research paper reporting the results of this intervention by the end of the year.
The Hard Hat Ceremony event connected industry professionals and alumni with engineering students of every year and discipline through a conversation hour. Students, faculty, and community members mingled in Heritage Hall as Senior Engineering students presented their Senior Design Projects. These research teams are tackling problems from bedplate stabilization to water and air pollution, and they will complete these research projects in May of 2023. It was a networking opportunity for students as well, as corporate sponsors Whiting-Turner, ABC Metro Washington, Bozzuto, Consigli, and Clark Construction were in attendance.
In his formal address, Dean Judge remarked, “what a blessing it is to have an administration who understands how important engineering is.” With a chemical engineer as President and a particle physicist as Provost, it is truly an exciting time to be involved in engineering at The Catholic University of America.