Miles Buckner came to UNLV as a civil engineering student after already working in the field for six years. His bosses at the Nevada Department of Transportation encouraged Buckner, ’17 BS Civil Engineering, to go to UNLV after working for the state agency for 12 years. Now, Buckner is a civil engineer with WSP USA.
How did the experience of Senior Design help prepare you for your career?
Senior Design prepared me for what it would be like to work in a team setting. Up until then, all the things I was doing in my career were individual assignments. Senior design takes place in your last semester while taking all your final classes. The semester’s workload is, at times, unimaginable. Only by working with your team and delegating work, like you would in the workplace, are you able to keep sane and to finish everything with a good final product.
What brought you to your career?
I started working in the engineering field — construction engineering for roads and highways — when I was 19 years old. I didn’t decide on civil engineering until I was about 25. All of my bosses at the time, who were professional engineers, told me I should get my degree and that it would help me go a long way in my career. Better late than never. By having worked in the industry before going to school, I was much more prepared for the material.
What was a class you remember taking that correlates directly to your career today?
I work in water resources today. I do hydrology and hydraulic design for public and private clients. So, water resources with professor [Sajjad] Ahmad, fluid mechanics and geographic information systems with professor [Haroon] Stephen, unit ops in environmental engineering with professor [Erica] Marti, and every class I took with professor [David] James.
What is your best memory from UNLV?
My best memory from UNLV was the fun I had with my classmates doing everything on campus. After a few semesters, you realize you have all the same classes with the same 10-12 people who stuck with it, so it becomes a close little group. For engineering, to do well, you have to commit time to study, do the work, and understand what you’re doing. At a certain point “plug and chug” (a technique in which values are entered to get a numerical answer without using problem-solving skills) doesn’t work anymore. All the times I can remember when I would literally be on campus from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. doing work and having fun in-between, are some of my best memories.
What are some takeaways from UNLV which have positively affected you in your career?
The civil engineering community and field is actually pretty small, at least in Las Vegas, and you will end up seeing or working with the same people you went to school with. A good takeaway from UNLV is being open to working with all the different people, either in labs or in group projects, through the semesters to understand how to work with others.
Do you have any advice for students struggling to find jobs or deciding on an engineering major?
For civil engineering, the jobs are out there. It is one of the safest careers you can choose in that regard, next to IT/computer science. Entry-level positions right out of school are there if you look for them and network, which is easy to do at UNLV since they provide ways for you to do it constantly while enrolled.