Feature Stories 2023: John Lucas Guimaraes '23: Engineering a more inclusive world

Feature Stories 2023: John Lucas Guimaraes '23: Engineering a more inclusive world
John Lucas Guimaraes '23: Engineering a more inclusive world

Civil engineering student Joao “John” Lucas Coelho Guimaraes is a leader with a passion for public service.

Civil engineering student Joao “John” Lucas Coelho Guimaraes is a leader with a passion for public service.  

Why did you choose UMass Dartmouth? 

"My path to UMass Dartmouth wasn’t a straight line. I lived and worked in Boston for a few years with multiple unsuccessful attempts to get the loans I needed. It was discouraging, and I started to wonder if college was even for me.  

"I moved back to the SouthCoast and enrolled at Bristol Community College. My advisor at BCC,  Alyssa Frezza, connected me with Jen Murphy here in Engineering Student Support & Services and helped me chart a course to come to UMassD via the Mass Transfer Program. I took two summer courses here at UMassD in the summer of 2021 and was part of the STEM Transfer Academy. I enrolled in the civil engineering program and loved it. I’m grateful for my past hardships because, ultimately, they led me to the right place."  

How and why did you get interested in civil engineering? What about the field is most exciting to you? 

"I got into civil engineering because initially I was interested in construction management. As I learned more about civil engineering, I became more interested in the design and construction of public projects, and the decision-making process behind those projects.  

"Now, I’m most excited about trends in transportation policy and decision making. For example, engineers are not just using hard data to plan a project, but also seeking community input from the people who will be using the roadway and infrastructure. Or, considering the climate and the environment, engineers evaluate how to use resources and implement practices that protect our future.  

"I enjoy working to ensure laws and policies are very inclusive. There is a common saying that 'talent is equally distributed but opportunity is not.' I want to be someone who helps to pass opportunities on to others."   

Instagram post of selfie with Mark Fuller and John Lucas Guimaraes
John Lucas Guimaraes and UMassD Chancellor Mark Fuller

Looking back, what is one big takeaway from your experience at UMassD? 

"I learned that you get out of any experience what you put into it.  As a commuter student, I think commuters can be at a disadvantage when it comes to having the full college experience. But it’s up to you to decide what you will make of it. During my first year here, I was not involved on campus at all; I went to school and went home. But I realized having a network, community, and connections is the biggest advantage one can have, so I started putting myself out there. I started joining clubs and signing up for notifications and attending events. It not only helped me get opportunities in school, but also helped me form friendships that allow me to be myself." 

What have you learned about being a leader? 

"I’ve learned a lot from taking on different leadership roles.  

"I am president of the UMassD chapter of Out in STEM (or oSTEM), the largest chapter-based organization focused on LGBTQ+ people in STEM. I’ve also been very active with Business Professionals of America (BPA) at the national and state levels. The BPA prepares students for the workforce by developing industry and leadership skills, engaging in community service, networking, and mentorship. It's a great way to meet people from all over the U.S.; later this month I’ll be going to the BPA National Leadership Conference in Anaheim, CA.  

"As a leader in these organizations, I get to help make sure all voices are being represented in our bylaws and governing documents. I’ve learned that being a leader means preparing the people around you and giving them the tools they need to be successful."   

Tell us about your internship with MassDOT 

"I have been working with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) since the summer of 2022. My primary role has been focused on a reconstruction project on Routes 140 and 24 to accommodate increased traffic.  The commuter rail to Boston is expanding its service to Fall River and New Bedford, so more train stations will be cropping up where these highways intersect, and heavier traffic is expected in these areas. The project includes expanding the road itself, building new retaining walls, and bridge work.  As an intern I tested concrete, inspected construction, and evaluated work done by the crews.  My job also involved some environmental monitoring and observing how construction affected surrounding ecosystems. It was a very hands-on experience; I spent about 80% of my time in the field.  

"The internship was also a great networking opportunity. My team includes some UMassD alumni: Amy Aveiro, Jason Vigers, and Dylan Souza. They, along with Paul Washburn, Justin St. Martin, Paul Miller, and Ken White, have been very supportive and great mentors as I get ready to begin my career."     

What are your plans following graduation?  

"After graduation, I want to continue working in the transportation engineering discipline of civil engineering. I have really enjoyed my Intro to Transportation, Traffic Engineering, and Advanced Traffic Engineering classes here at UMass Dartmouth. Those classes and my internship at MassDOT have increased my interest in transportation projects.    

"Working with and in the public sector connects my interest in transportation and government. Being surrounded by and getting input from people who are experts in their fields in order to make decisions that work for everyone is very exciting to me. I enjoy being part of the design and execution of transportation projects, but I’m hoping to get more involved with policy work, such as setting national transportation standards and laws." 

How has UMass Dartmouth prepared you for your future? 

"My internship experience and the capstone design project definitely helped me prepare for the next steps in my career.  Every opportunity I’ve had here at UMassD has gotten me ready for the next opportunity to come."  

What advice do you have for current or future UMassD students? 

"Professionally and personally, put yourself out there.  Join extracurricular groups and activities, even if they’re not related to your major. Meet people. Because you never know what your future will be, having a strong network of friends and connections will be your strongest asset."