Classes, Co-Op Provide the Right Structure for Graduating BS/MS Student


Since he was a child, Joshua McCants has been inspired by architecture. He grew up close to Washington, D.C., surrounded by some of the most recognizable and uniquely designed buildings in the country. As a kid, he originally wanted to be a construction worker, but found that his predilection for math and science made him a good candidate to study engineering. His suspicion wound up being correct, and now at the end of his college career, he will be graduating through Drexel’s dual-degree program with a bachelor's in architectural engineering and a master's in civil engineering.

Drexel BS/MS students earn two degrees in just five years, with three co-ops to gain experience before graduation. McCants spent his co-ops in construction and contracting, as well as working for a global engineering solutions firm. But with each experience, he was able to build on previous knowledge. “At my first co-op I learned how to read and understand drawings, my second co-op I learned some fundamental drafting and nomenclature standards, and my third co-op I learned a lot of standard calculations and design procedures for varying structures,” he said.

McCants’ fondest Drexel memories center around being an Intramural (IM) sports official. IM officials are responsible for the day-to-day operations of various sports such as soccer, volleyball and basketball. In order to work in this position, students must understand the basic rules of a plethora of sports, set up and run games, and even administer first aid. McCants’ favorite sports to officiate were flag football and men’s basketball. “Those are the sports I resonate with the most, and I had some pretty good friends of mine playing on the team,” he said, so he was able to joke around with his friends during games. “The biggest thing I took away from being a supervisor was communication. I communicated with many different groups of people with diverse backgrounds, and it was important that I learned how to build relationships and connect with each person.”

Communication is also playing a role in McCants’ senior design project. He is part of a team of students working with THA Consulting in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to design a parking garage with over 1,000 parking spaces as well as retail spaces on the ground level. The graduate-level courses he’s taking for his master’s, he says, have been a huge help in completing this project, which has been “very structurally challenging,” he said. The final product will be built in Bethlehem.

After graduation, McCants will be employed full time as an Engineer in Training at Thornton Tomasetti’s Philadelphia office while he works on professional certifications. He continues to draw inspiration from the office buildings in his hometown, particularly the the office buildings in and around K street, a lobbying hub lined with modern glass buildings with lots of exposed structuring.

Being “thrown in the fire” with co-op experiences and senior design, he says, is what makes earning his degree a great learning experience. “I think Drexel’s fast paced quarter schedule and cooperative learning requirement taught me to never stop working and grinding,” he says. “I also think that here at Drexel if you apply yourself, many doors can be opened for you to start a solid future.”