CEE Student Profile: Andrew Maier

Andrew Maier working with others designing how to preserve the space of Fritz Lab
Andrew Maier, in red baseball cap, takes part in a design charette at the recent Fritz Engineering Laboratory Centennial.

World traveler and photographer Andrew Maier has experienced first-hand Lehigh’s many diverse resources for aspiring civil engineers and architects

When Andrew Maier settled on Lehigh University four years ago, he was uncertain of the course his educational journey would take. What he knew for sure was that he wanted to join Lehigh’s legacy of excellence in engineering.

“I came to Lehigh because of its engineering reputation,” he recalls. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I knew I would have options here.”

Maier, born and raised in Reading, Pa., set out to find a college fairly close to home.

“I had a cousin that went to Lehigh, and some friends of mine that went here thought it would be a good fit for me,” he says.

Aside from his desire to join the ranks of Lehigh’s prestigious engineering alumni, Maier was also interested in pursuing his love of architecture. The freedom in course selection and degree options available to Lehigh students is precisely what made the school perfect for Maier.

“I went to a private high school in Lancaster, and it was very into providing that same type of balance in the curriculum, so it was familiar for me to continue studying two subjects that were considerably different,” he says.

Currently in the fourth year of the 5-year dual-degree program, Maier will soon earn degrees in both architecture and civil engineering with a concentration in structural design. In both departments, he has flourished at Lehigh, and is considering further education at first-rate schools such as Yale.

While Maier admits his two passions do not commonly go hand in hand, the arts and sciences pairing he desired was entirely possible at Lehigh, and has already benefited his career prospects.

While he hasn’t followed the typical path of undergraduate internships, Maier has had no shortage of constructive opportunities during his years at Lehigh. In the summer of 2009 he studied abroad in Italy. This summer he will be going to China to hone his architectural abilities on the Chinese Bridge Project. The initiative will improve humanitarian conditions through the development of water and power supplies, healthcare, and education.

“My architecture professor was looking for dual-degree people, so that’s what got me the traveling opportunities,” Maier explains.

Maier, like many other students, has experienced a variety of advantages as a result of the personal attention offered by Lehigh faculty. Case in point: John Wilson, a professor of civil engineering and director of graduate studies for the department. realized and rewarded Maier’s talents as a Brown and White sports photographer.

Students at a construction site in New York.

Wilson enlisted Maier as a photographer for the department, responsible for covering events affecting Lehigh’s young civil and environmental engineers. One of Maier’s very first assignments was to cover the annual Moles field trip to the World Trade Center site. Maier made the trip to New York along with groups from a collection of colleges and universities.

“It’s an opportunity to get students out to large-scale projects and really see what’s going on in the engineering world outside of school,” Maier says of the event.

Aside from involved professors, stimulating lessons, and ground-breaking research projects, civil engineering students have another very valuable resource: each other.

“It’s a really good group of people in civil engineering, and you get to know everyone…a lot of us are very close,” he says. “We also have a small bunch of people focusing in structural engineering, so we’re usually together. It makes classes a lot easier and better to be with people that you are close with.”

Maier appreciates all the support the department has to offer, and the education that has already furnished him with many skills that he needs to independently pursue his goals. He recently acquired a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accreditation, which qualifies him to rate and certify the sustainability of buildings.

Maier’s LEED certification offers him “a possible career opportunity” in the rapidly growing green industry, he explains. As a founding member of The Green Building Group at Lehigh, Maier has been able to connect students with local Bethlehem companies involved in sustainable architecture.

One such company is The Stone House Group, a building stewardship offering consulting services to facilitate responsible planning and management of energy, natural, and financial resources.

“They do a lot of green building commissioning work right here in Bethlehem. It’s great for us to work with them because it lets students get real experience, with local industry professionals,” Maier says.

Through his work in the field, Maier has come to the conclusion that he will most likely have a career in architecture. Even so, his background in civil engineering will always play an important role in his future.

“Civil engineering has played a big part in helping me decide what I want to do. It’s definitely influenced my perspective of architecture in a positive way,” he says.

—Lindsey Hesse