Career Jump-start

Engineering seniors maximize co-op experiences

By Edwin Smith and Ryan Upshaw


hen considering job applicants, employers consider professional work experiences and the skills developed through them. University of Mississippi engineering seniors Madeline Costelli of Gulfport and Adam Vonder Harr of Brandon recently had experiences that could jump-start their careers.

Maddie Costelli

Costelli, a civil engineering major, worked with Neel-Schaffer Inc. last summer in the structural department of the firm’s Jackson office. She is thankful for the opportunity to learn new skills during her time there.

“Working with Mrs. Cindy Rich at Neel-Schaffer was an extremely rewarding experience,” Costelli said. “I was introduced to MathCad and Microstation software to design box culverts for the Mississippi Department of Transportation.”

Costelli said her internship helped confirm that she chose the right field, and she learned that experience outside the classroom is vital for an engineering career. After graduation, she looks forward to pursuing a full-time position with the company.

Rich, an Ole Miss CE alumna, praised Costelli’s work.

“Maddie is a wonderful example of the caliber of students Ole Miss engineering is producing, and it was a pleasure to have her at Neel-Schaffer this past summer,” she said. “She worked on some demanding projects and was very much up to the task. She represented herself and the university superbly.”

Outside her experience with Neel-Schaffer, Costelli has been active in other profession-related activities. She serves as vice president of design for Engineers Without Borders’ school construction project in the West African nation of Togo. Costelli is also a member of the concrete canoe team with the American Society of Civil Engineers and a member of Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society.

Adam Vonder Haar

Vonder Haar worked with Bill Dykeman, an electrical engineering alumnus, at Raytheon Co. in Forest. While there, he feels that he had a chance to expand the skills he learned in the classroom.

“My experience with Raytheon was great,” Vonder Haar said. “I had the chance to work with software development, communications and near-field antenna measurements, as well as delivering presentations. I am glad that I had the chance to gain hands-on experience in my field as an undergraduate student.”

Dykeman praised Vonder Haar’s work.

“We were really impressed with the quality of Adam’s work,” he said. “He completed a large variety of complex tasks with minimal management oversight. The academic preparation that he received during his electrical engineering and business management course work enabled him to excel in all assigned tasks.”

Vonder Haar, who is pursuing degrees in electrical engineering and management through the UM School of Business Administration, hopes to land a management-level position working with other electrical engineers. He is confident that the skills he honed while working with Raytheon will help him achieve his professional goals.

During his time on campus, Vonder Haar has held membership in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, a Greek organization, campus intramurals and the Reformed University Fellowship.

Students should be open to opportunities to seek out a co-op position and not to rule out the chance to use what they have learned in the classroom at Ole Miss and apply it to real working scenarios, Vonder Haar said.

“We are very excited to see our undergraduate students and our alumni connecting in meaningful ways,” said Ryan Upshaw, assistant dean for student services and co-op coordinator on the School of Engineering. “Co-ops and internships are as much about getting hands-on experience as they are about networking. Adam and Madeline continue to prove that Ole Miss engineering students are skillful in both.”

The University of Mississippi Office of Admissions, 145 Martindale, University, MS 38677

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