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Internship Profile: Nicholas Pelisek, BSCE ’19 (San Diego Zoo Safari Park)

Name: Nicholas Pelisek
Class: 2019
Hometown: Sarasota, Fla.
Concentrations: Civil Engineering
Internship location: San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido, Calif.

How did you find this internship?
I actually created my own internship with the Safari Park. I knew I wanted to learn about engineering and project management in a zoological setting, but there weren’t internships of this nature that existed at any facilities.

Describe your internship.
I am interning with the projects department, which consists of the two project managers that coordinate all construction projects at the Park. My tasks have involved conducting project site walks around the 1800-acre property and attending meetings with park leadership and contractors, as well as project-specific tasks. At the moment, there are close to 10 projects happening within the Park, each at different stages of design and construction.

What did you learn at CoE that has helped you at your summer internship?
General understanding of the areas of civil engineering — including structural, geotechnical, water resources, and water treatment — has proven invaluable so far in my internship, as I have already seen each of these disciplines applied at the Safari Park in the first four weeks of my job.  Understanding the terminology and theory behind the projects happening at the Park is making the experience much more meaningful.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned at this program?
I have learned that there is a huge variety of careers that engineering degrees can prepare me for, not limited to solely working as a project engineer. Project management is a fascinating field, and my civil engineering background is helping me to understand and appreciate this profession.

Why has this been a good experience for you?
I have always wanted to work in the field of zoo and aquarium design, and this internship has been an amazing introduction to the reality of working in this industry. I have been able to interview architects, animal care staff, operations leaders and contractors to learn how everyone provides input on projects, as well as how I would like to tailor my future educational goals to prepare myself for a career in the industry.