JWF Intern: Ethan ‘Eman’ Eisenhart

Major: Mining Engineering

I chose to pursue this type of work because I’m interested in contracting and love the relationships Project Engineers/Managers make with clients and other contractors to make projects flow. Another reason I wanted to get into contracting was that I want to work with a team to build projects and create meaningful work.

School: Colorado School of Mines

Expected Graduation: Spring 2023

I’m currently pursuing a degree at The Colorado School of Mines, so I had to get a place over the summer out here in Portland. The transition from school to Oregon was rather smooth. It was refreshing working and getting experience in the industry. Before this summer I had never been to Oregon. After being out here for the summer, I’ve learned that from Mt. Hood to the coast there is a little something for everybody.

Ethan receiving the RWF 1.0 Pipe Ram Crossing under Arrowhead Creek.

How did you hear about JWF and the internship opportunities here?

My school has a career fair every fall where the students meet with different companies across the country. Initially, I met with an administrative representative of James W. Fowler and had a great initial interaction. That’s what sparked my interest in the company and pushed me to dig into all the different scopes of projects Fowler’s been a part of. In the coming days, I met with Glen Wheeler (Chief Tunnel Engineer) and we discussed the role I’d play as a tunneling intern.

How would you explain a typical day as a JWF intern?

A typical day on the job site as a JWF intern includes a mix of office and fieldwork assisting the Project Manager/Engineer. For example, this week we are installing a vertical riser pipe to connect the underground carrier pipe to the trench pipe. This process takes two cranes to execute the pick, which automatically makes it a critical load pick. So, the Project Engineer and I created a critical load plan to submit to the General Contractor to be approved. I also got to participate in an in-depth analysis of the crane we have on-site in order to able to select the proper rigging for the pick.

What have you learned during your time here?

I’ve had the opportunity to be on two job sites this summer, learning the differences between micro tunneling and pipe ramming operations. One of the biggest things I’ve learned this summer is the importance of having an experienced crew as well as strong administrative professionals. I was involved with the tunneling side of Fowler all summer, and this work is challenging. James W. Fowler does a great job of putting the right people in positions on tunneling jobs to ensure quality work that flows from one stage to another.

What has been the most challenging aspect of the internship so far?

Personally, I’d say the most challenging aspect of this internship is the constant battle of new challenges being thrown your way. I’ve learned that in the contracting world Project Engineers/Managers must solve problems and make decisions on the spot that keep the crew safe and moving.

What has helped you succeed through the challenges?

One thing that’s helped me succeed through the summer is working around a team that’s had a lot of experience in underground construction. I’ve gotten a chance to learn what it takes to be a successful professional in the industry, and what I need to do back at school to become a better engineer when I graduate.

How would you describe the culture at JWF?

This particularly was one of my favorite things about being out here with Fowler over the summer. Being a family-owned company, the culture at Fowler is really focused on commitment and pride. Every employee I’ve met on both the craft and staff side is passionate about the industry they’re in and the work Fowler provides.

What’s one really cool thing you are working on right now or plan to work on before your internship is over?

One cool thing I got to do while being with Fowler over the summer was that I took a trip down to San Diego to see another microtunneling project. This project involved tunneling under a road and it was interesting to see the differences in site layout and shaft depth compared to the projects I’ve been on in Portland.

Would you recommend the internship program to other students looking to gain experience?

I would absolutely recommend this internship to anybody interested in getting experience in the civil industry. This internship program also provides an in-depth look into contracting and the values and skills needed to be successful.

Last but not least – If you had a time machine, would you travel to the future or back to the past?

If I had a time machine I would travel to the future because I’m really interested to see where technology specifically AI will be in 100 years. Also, I would be intrigued to see how future generations will solve the problems we as a society are faced with today.