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Building Disney magic: Civil Engineering major works on theme park’s next big thing

Becky McCloskey '20 stands outside the Star Wars ride at Disney.

Becky McCloskey tries not to talk too much about her co-op.

Part of that is modesty; she doesn’t want to brag. The other part is out of necessity. What she’s working on is top secret: building the next big thing at Disney World.

Pursuing her passion

When Becky drives under a bridge or walks past a huge building, the gears in her head start turning.

How did they build this? Where did the idea start? How did the construction come together?

Those questions led her to pursue a degree in Civil Engineering. And an emphasis on Co-Operative programs, or co-ops, led her to choose York College of Pennsylvania as the best place for her to earn that degree.

Last summer, Becky did her first co-op with Whiting-Turner, a national construction company. She worked in an office in Baltimore, Maryland doing cost analysis on a project they were working on at Disney World. But for her second co-op, she knew she wanted to try something out in the field.

After a few phone calls, she got a text from her boss. She was going to Disney.

Working in the field

Each day has been different since Becky arrived for her five-month internship in January.

It's been an amazing experience, she says. I learn so many new things every day.

She spends much of her time working with the project managers and supervisors keeping construction moving on schedule in an environmentally sustainable way. It's been a formative experience, seeing with her own eyes how a construction project works.

;Being able to see something on paper and then see it actually happen is amazing, she says. You're watching that happen every day.

It's exciting working on a project for such a major company, being trusted with the knowledge of their plans, and getting to see how things will all work together. One day, the team attended a creative overview, allowing Becky to see Disney's vision for the project.

I literally sat there, and my jaw just dropped, she says. Being a part of that project and getting to see the behind-the-scenes of how rides will work has been an unforgettable experience for Becky.

There's nothing else that I could have wanted to do, she says.

Preparing for the future

Now, in her junior year, Becky says she’s gained more from her co-ops than just the civil engineering experience. She’s made connections within companies, has gotten more comfortable with the interview process, and she’s beefed up her resume.

“It’s so much easier now that I’ve done it three times rather than doing it for the first time after I graduate,” she says.

Being out in the field has also made her more confident.

“I’ve never really been a quiet person,” she says, “but the more that I’m out, the more people I’m meeting, the more that I’m learning. I’m just getting more confident in myself and more confident in what I’m going to be able to do one day.”

She chose York College for the co-ops, but her experience on campus has been incredibly valuable, too.

“We’re so close with all our professors and so close as a class,” she says. “You’re not going to get that anywhere else.”

She’s excited to take what she’s learned in her co-ops so far and apply it to what she’s learning in the classroom. And life beyond graduation?

“Who knows?” she says.

Becky still has another year of school and another co-op experience to help guide her to where she wants to begin her career. But wherever she goes, she knows she’s got a good head start on the competition.

Learn more about our civil engineering program.