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February 19, 2014 - Talk with a transportation engineer and they'll likely tell you the exact road, highway or interchange that inspired them down their career path. For Patrick Andridge, a master's student in Wayne State University's College of Engineering, it's the I75/696 interchange in Royal Oak.

"I remember being absolutely fascinated by the interchange when I was a kid. I thought it was the coolest thing, with the way it deals with different conflicts of traffic flow," says the Lake Orion native.

It's no wonder then that, after earning a bachelor's in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Detroit Mercy, Andridge applied to Wayne State's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in 2012 to earn a graduate degree in transportation engineering. "I wanted something that was transportation-focused to increase my chances of getting a great job," he says.

It didn't hurt that Wayne State also happened to be in Detroit. "I've always loved this city and appreciate that it has allowed me to experience diverse cultures and institutions. It's also close to home, which was another big draw."

While a student, Andridge worked as a graduate research assistant with the university's Transportation Research Group (TRG) on a wide variety of projects.

"I've had the opportunity to work on a wide range of studies with faculty members who are renowned in the transportation field. I've gained invaluable knowledge on roadside corridors, green spaces, work zone mobility, the impact of work zones on commuter delay, differential speed limits and so much more. I really believe my courses and my experience working with the TRG have prepared me greatly for my career," he says.

And he's not the only one who thinks he's prepared to hit-the-ground-running.

Opus International Consultants, an international infrastructure consulting group with a transportation office in Novi, Mich., contacted Andridge about a full-time position as a transportation engineer shortly after he — with the help of Wayne State Career Consultant Carmen Gamlin — updated his LinkedIn profile online.

"Patrick has prepared himself to be a great engineer through his academic preparation and research," Gamlin says. "Helping him document his preparation quickly resulted in an interview. That is exactly what is supposed to happen to WSU College of Engineering talent who market themselves."

Andridge, who will graduate with his master's in May 2014, will work on a wide range of tasks in his new position, from road safety audits to transportation asset management and more. "My time at Wayne State has definitely helped me get the job I desired and really start my career. I'm very grateful and look forward to joining the Opus team."

Who knows, perhaps his work will one day inspire future generations to go into transportation engineering, too.

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