Evan Avery Portrait

Alumni Spotlight: Meet Evan Avery

After graduating from CEE with a focus in construction management, Avery began working in southern California with nationwide contractor company Hensel Phelps as a field engineer before working his way up to the project engineer and superintendent roles.

Student experiences at CEE can be hugely impactful, creating memories and imparting knowledge that will last a lifetime. But for some, those experiences don’t just end after graduation. CEE alums like 2011 grad Evan Avery continue to stay engaged with the CEE and University community, helping to create memorable and impactful professional development opportunities for future generations of engineers while utilizing the skills and experiences he obtained at Michigan. 

Evan Avery Portrait
Evan Avery Portrait

After graduating from CEE with a focus in construction management, Avery began working in southern California with nationwide contractor company Hensel Phelps as a field engineer before working his way up to the project engineer and superintendent roles. He then made a switch, diving into the pre-construction side of contracting as a senior estimator. 

“What interests me most about construction management is that it’s a field where you’re learning something all the time,” said Avery. “It’s really about building a team and watching people grow and develop and do their best work. What I like about pre-construction is the opportunity to make a really big impact on the finished product in a very small window of time. And those impactful ideas can come from anybody on the team, which is really exciting to watch. It’s very cool to see the team really come together and make a difference.”

During his time at CEE, Avery was engaged in a wide variety of student groups, clubs and communities. A member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, CEE Honors Society Chi Epsilon, the Steel Bridge Team and the Concrete Canoe Team, Avery found community and connection at CEE and sought to continue fostering that community post-graduation. 

“I felt a lot of connection to the CEE department when I graduated,” said Avery. “So much of my time had been spent in these CEE-related groups, and I wanted to continue that momentum.”

And with that momentum, Avery established a CEE student program that would provide underclassmen students with the opportunity to explore different career paths and receive mentoring from industry professionals. Avery’s Spring Break Externship Program allows CEE students to shadow civil and environmental engineers at an engineering or construction firm. Students are matched with their best-fitting firm before beginning to shadow employees and experience a week in the life of an engineer or consultant, helping students to identify their goals for their post-graduation path and make integral connections within the industry.

Said Avery, “We try to give the students as broad of an exposure as possible within that firm that they’re matched with so that they can see what their life would look like on the other side in a variety of divisions and a variety of roles.”

For Avery, this program is a chance for CEE students to experience what he as an underclassman could not, giving them the opportunity to get their foot into the door of the engineering world. 

“When I was a sophomore and I was looking for internships, I just couldn’t get my foot in the door,” said Avery. “I felt like I was doing everything I possibly could to show that I was prepared, and nobody would give me a shot. It was so upsetting and so frustrating. I feel like this program gives those students who, like me, have little or no experience, and it takes the competition aspect out of the equation. So it gives people another path to expose themselves and their skills to the industry. And, as an underclassman, I think I really would have liked that chance.”

Avery’s desire to launch the externship program came not only from his connection to the CEE community and personal experiences but also from a recruiter’s perspective and a desire to better prepare students for post-graduate life. “One reason that I wanted to launch the program was because when I was recruiting for our company, I would come to UMich and I would talk to juniors, and sometimes even seniors, who weren’t sure what they wanted to do. They’re ready to start accepting job offers, but they don’t know what they want to do. And that, to me, is a problem. I want students to know what they want so they can chase the right firms, not waste their time, and start in a place that’s closer to where they ultimately want to be.”

Avery’s Externship Program is only one example of opportunities for alumni involvement, and while it has been immensely impactful, he’s made sure to engage with the CEE community in other areas too, and recommends that other alumni with the desire to get involved do the same. 

“Outside of the Externship Program, which is a larger time commitment, I’ve also come into classes to present for students, giving them an opportunity to learn more about their field outside of the classroom and the academic perspective,” said Avery. “I’ve found those smaller time commitments, like connecting with a class or participating in mock interviews and resume reviews, to be rewarding as well.”

Alumni involvement with CEE communities provides crucial resources for students: networking opportunities, connections with established engineers with years of career experience and meaningful student-alumni relationships are just some of the benefits of alumni involvement on the student side. But there’s plenty of benefit for alumni, too. 

“It’s nice to be able to maintain that continuity with your community,” said Avery. “I’ve worked closely with students and seen the worthwhile impact the program has had. Students are making big decisions based on limited information. It’s amazing how much of an impact you can have on the future courses of their lives just by sharing a little bit of your time and expertise. It’s been a very rewarding experience.”

To Avery, and all other alumni who remained connected and involved with the CEE community, we extend our gratitude and appreciation. Thank you for helping to guide and support the next generation of engineers. To get involved and continue fostering student-alumni relationships, visit the volunteer page of our website. 


Portrait of Mason Hinawi
Mason Hinawi

Marketing Communications Specialist
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering