Vincent Antes ’08 ’09 M.Eng. turned his childhood interest into career reality with a professional master’s degree in Structural Engineering from the Rossin College

There were a lot of trips to the Home Depot when Vincent Antes was a kid. His father was always doing stuff around the house—building, renovating, repairing—and Antes was always right there with him, helping him out. 

“I got the bug,” says Antes. “I thought it was fun.”

And when his dad, a structural engineer, took Antes on occasion to his job sites, Antes knew he eventually wanted to do similar work, at the same grand scale. The scale of bridges, tunnels, and airports. 

As an undergrad in Lehigh University’s P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, Antes majored in civil engineering, and had the bad luck of graduating during the economic collapse of 2008. But his decision to stay at Lehigh and enter the 10-month Structural Engineering (M.Eng.) professional master’s program went beyond a bear market.

“At one of our college career fairs, I interviewed with the company that I eventually worked for, and they wanted everyone to have a master’s degree,” says Antes. “Those are the people they look for.”

For good reason. The program teaches both technical and soft skills that are immediately deployed on a real-world structural design group project that spans the length of the program. Antes’s class designed a hotel, and he says the experience taught him the value of teamwork, the realities of budgets and deadlines, and the precise interplay of organization, coordination, and communication.

“We got a lot of hands-on experience,” he says. “One of the classes I remember specifically was large-scale testing of different structural members. It was a useful class, because when I started my job, I was going into the field and looking at structures for condition assessments and rehabilitation-type work. The program prepared me for what to look for when it comes to identifying different kinds of failures.”

That kind of preparation and direct application, he says, came in large part from the guidance of Jennifer Gross, a professor of practice and the program’s director. 

“Her experience in the design world was a huge asset. She knew exactly what we were going into,” he says. “She taught us what to expect not only when we were first starting out, but also as we progressed in our careers.”

The ability to network through externships and direct contact with industry professionals throughout the program helped Antes see his chosen career up close, and hone his ability to sell his skills to potential employers. 

When he thinks of the trajectory of his career, Antes says the M.Eng. program was the perfect launching point. A 10-month investment in the design bug he’d inherited in childhood. 

Today, he’s a lead structural engineer for the New York office of WSP USA in the Federal Programs & Logistics group, responsible for signing and sealing drawings for some of the company’s larger projects. The grandest of those projects—a new terminal at Orlando International Airport—began in 2016. He’s looking forward to the day when he can pass on some of the same excitement, awe, and wonder he got from his own dad years ago. 

“My son is only a year and a half now, but by the time the terminal is finished, he’ll understand things a little more,” he says. “I’m really excited to show it to him.” 

—Christine Fennessy is staff writer for the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science