Engineering Students Spend 'Alternative Spring Break' Touring Missouri Companies

A group from the College of Engineering observes manufacturing work during a tour at Leggett & Platt in Carthage, Missouri.
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A group from the College of Engineering observes manufacturing work during a tour at Leggett & Platt in Carthage, Missouri.

Instead of hitting the beach or slopes on their week off, nearly two dozen College of Engineering students visited a group of Missouri employers as part of Alternative Spring Break, a three-day, all-expense-paid tour held in March since 2014.

The tour helps companies with recruitment and helps students explore possible careers, said Kelsey Lavigne, the college's director of career initiatives.

"While we have a lot of fun on the trip every year, we take career exploration and networking seriously, and we urge students to explore many possibilities as they settle on a career path," Lavigne said. "Likewise, the companies appreciate the chance to show off to our aspiring engineers, as they're always looking to hire high quality graduates."

This year's tour March 18-20 took 21 students and four staff members to visit four Kansas City-area employers and one in Carthage, Missouri:

  • Burns & McDonnell, an integrated architecture, design and construction company.
  • Evergy, whose subsidiaries Kansas City Power & Light Co. and Westar Energy provide energy to 1.6 million customers in Kansas and Missouri.
  • Garmin, maker of GPS navigation technology and wearable devices.
  • Hallmark, producer of greeting cards and owner of Crayola, Hallmark Media and Crown Center.
  • Leggett & Platt, manufacturer of components for bedding, automotive uses, furniture and textiles.

College of Engineering Dean Kim Needy joined the group on several of the tours and invited the students to an alumni reception where they were able to interact with past graduates.

Sophomore Malcolm Blakeman said visiting the companies was fun and informative.

"We were greeted with extensive tours of the facilities, great advice, along with other Q&A and lots of food," he said. "In addition, we went to an alumni mixer where we networked with several Razorback alumni and heard from our dean, Kim Needy. These great experiences were enhanced by the company of fellow engineering students from many majors."

This year's Alternative Spring Break was the second since 2019 because of cancelations during the pandemic.

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