Alumni Alumni: Alum-sponsored engineering capstone project dares UMassD seniors to strive for excellence

Alumni Alumni: Alum-sponsored engineering capstone project dares UMassD seniors to strive for excellence
Alum-sponsored engineering capstone project dares UMassD seniors to strive for excellence

Engineering students partnered with Kimley-Horn to devise a renovation plan for a Raising Cane’s restaurant.

Student engineers working on project
Student engineers hard at work.

UMass Dartmouth students only spend a few years on campus, but they’re Corsairs for life. Alumni may no longer be students on campus that frequent the Grove or study in the Claire T. Carney Library, but they never stop being an essential part of the Corsair community.  

John Cordasco, P.E. graduated from the College of Engineering in 2013, but UMass Dartmouth never left his radar. Recalling his own time as a scholar, he wanted to give back to the student population that once fostered a sense of belonging within him. Now a proud alum, he had an opportunity to remain connected to the Corsair community by sponsoring a capstone project with one of the nation’s top engineering consultant firms, Kimley-Horn.

Engineering capstone projects require senior students to work together in small teams on industry-specific issues that demand analysis, proposals, prototypes, and solutions. Collaborating with their project sponsors, students assist businesses with challenges that must be remedied within a 24-week timeframe. These projects present an opportunity to prepare students for their future engineering careers by discovering their interests, strengthening their problem-solving skills, and making new professional connections.

“Thanks to UMass Dartmouth, I’ve had an extraordinary career with Kimley-Horn,” Cordasco said, grateful for UMass Dartmouth’s ABET-accredited civil engineering programs that opened the door for him to begin his career at Kimley-Horn. As he blossomed into a thriving civil engineer, he never lost sight of his educational roots that molded him into the industry leader he is today.

“It’s critical for students to have access to the resources I found essential when entering the engineering field,” Cordasco continued. “My goal for this sponsorship was to help students find success through new opportunities that I can provide as an engineering leader.”

Student engineers smiling at event
Student engineers pose together at capstone presentations on April 27.

Cordasco served as a point of guidance to the following students: Jesse Cathcart ’23; Isabella Q. Alves ’23; Benjamin Cohen ’23; and Buen Salvmari Orbiso ’23. During the fall semester of their senior year, these students consistently communicated with Cordasco and other Kimley-Horn associates to brainstorm a plausible solution to ongoing issues at a Raising Cane’s fast-food restaurant in Louisiana. From asking questions to checking facts, they confided in Cordasco as a mentor and learned from his expertise, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in all the right ways.

“Mr. Cordasco was a pivotal point of communications as we worked on this project,” project manager Buen Salvmari Orbiso ’23 commented about her consistent interactions with engineering tycoons on behalf of the team. This project ignited her passion to make a difference in society by lending a hand in infrastructure system development. “They were there when we needed them, but they let us craft our own solution independently and offered constructive criticism from start to finish.”

After evaluating areas that need improvement like long drive-through lines and insufficient parking spaces, this student team finalized a renovation plan that improved the restaurant’s functionality and expanded their range of operations. The team’s ability to handle complex dilemmas and manage ever-changing project components certainly impressed Cordasco and his cohort of associates, giving them a glimpse of what the industry will be like under their leadership.

“I’m constantly on the hunt for new talent to add diverse elements to Kimley-Horn,” Cordasco said. He highlighted the importance of connecting with students as they prepare to start their careers. “Working with these students gives me a better idea of what this new generation of engineers has to offer, and it’s incredibly exciting.”

For all UMass Dartmouth alumni, the Corsair community will always be their home to revisit when searching for further success.

To connect with current UMassD students as a mentor or to sponsor a capstone project, join the Corsair Network and indicate that you are willing to help.