CEAS Student Finds Passion for Construction through Freshman Engineering Program

By:    Brandon Pytel
Date: April 2, 2018

UC construction management student Taylor Bonifant found her passion for construction through the Freshman Engineering Program. In May, she moves to Orlando to work full time for Granite Construction.

Bonifant stands in front of the cable-stayed bridge in Louisville, Kentucky, with hardhat and orange vest.

Bonifant had a co-op rotation with Walsh Construction in Louisville, Kentucky.

Not everyone starts college knowing what they want to do for the rest of their life. All Taylor Bonifant (construction management ’18) knew was that she was good at math and science. She applied to the University of Cincinnati (UC) Freshman Engineering Program (FEP) and eventually found an unexpected love for construction.

“FEP gave me the motivation to do the research I needed to figure out what I was passionate about,” said Bonifant. “I knew I enjoyed chemistry, so I thought chemical engineering might be for me. Luckily, my father convinced me to apply for FEP instead.”

The Freshman Engineering Program is one of the programs students interested in engineering can apply for directly from high school. Rather than start in a specific program like mechanical or chemical engineering, FEP students have the flexibility to decide what they want to study later on in their college experience.

After a semester or two at UC’s College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS), FEP students then apply to transition to a major of their choice, a process based on their UC GPA and courses they’ve taken. In Bonifant’s case, she transitioned into CEAS’s construction management program.

The program also doesn’t delay students’ cooperative education (co-op) experience. Bonifant's co-ops only fueled her love for the construction industry: “I think the highlight of my co-ops was really finding an industry within an industry that I am very passionate about,” she said. “Building bridges and roadways is something I would have never thought I would enjoy, but it is now what I want to do with my career.”

Bonifant has been on co-op rotations all over the country. She worked with Archer Western Contractors in Dallas; Walsh Construction in Louisville and Chicago; and Helix Electric in Honolulu.

view of cable-stayed bridge in Louisville.

Bonifant worked on this cable-stayed bridge while on her project engineering co-op.

She has also worked on many projects that have lasting impacts on society. In Louisville, she helped construct a cable-stayed bridge that had been in the works for over a decade. When the bridge was completed while she was on co-op, the company put on a Walk the Bridge event, in which thousands of people attended the bridge’s opening.

“It was so heartwarming to see the excitement on the faces of the labor force that helped build the bridge, as well as their families and the community,” said Bonifant.

As she wraps up her senior year, Bonifant is excited to continue working on large-scale public projects after graduation; she has already accepted a job with Granite Construction in Orlando, Florida. There she will work on the company’s I-4 Ultimate Improvement Project, a 21-mile highway improvement project that will include new express lanes, reconstructed interchanges and rebuilt bridges.

“The Freshman Engineering Program let me find my passion,” said Bonifant, “and UC’s co-op program let me build on that passion, both professionally and personally.”