It's easy to see how a massive infrastructure effort like the I-270 North Project would be a dream endeavor for any transportation engineer, but
for CBB Transportation + Engineers' Vice President Shawn Leight, it's much more than that.
We're really excited about working on this, and we have a lot of cool innovative features in there, which is really neat. But this is really
about the community. In a lot of different ways, we're trying to contribute to north county, and we're just really happy to be a part of that
Leight's career as a transportation engineer spans over 25 years, including nearly two decades at CBB where he also serves as one of its four
principal owners. He has led the firm's efforts with the I-270 North Project, which have included everything from providing traffic analysis and
modeling to traffic signals, overhead signage elements and many more of the vital traffic flow details that the average person may take for
granted during a daily commute.
However, he's most proud of the work the firm's been able to do with engaging college students and teens in the process. Through the years, CBB
has hosted a number of St. Louis University civil engineering students on field projects as a part of SLU's capstone course requirement for its
“Actually a pretty critical innovation on the I-270 North job was based on one of the projects from one of SLU's student teams,”
Since 2003, Leight also has served as an adjunct professor at Washington University in St. Louis, which has enabled CBB to build a solid
internship program. This year, the firm placed an emphasis on diversity and recruited five interns - including women and people of color. Out of
those interns, three will be able to continue interning through the fall semester and the remaining two have accepted offers for full-time
employment with CBB.
Some of the continuing interns include MoDOT OJT Cassiana Buehler who Leight noted is also one of his former Washington University students. As
a traffic intern, she's helped with maintenance, traffic planning, traffic adjustments out in the field and learning important software, he
Most recently, CBB also hired Project PAVE student Jaydin Thomas as their newest field tech. And this past summer, CBB brought on Project PAVE
student Trenton Clark as their first ever high school intern.
We had him involved in a bunch of different things and the summer went by so fast, I wish we'd had more time with him, but he did a great job.
He's got a lot of energy,” Leight said with a laugh. “I told him 'Trent when you get your first engineering job — and I don't
care if it's civil engineering or you decide to do something else — when you get your first engineering job, we're going to have a big
old party for you!'
Here's what Leight hopes the students take away from the experience:
“We want to give them a taste of the industry and see if this is something that they like. It's better for them to find that out now when
they're in college than when they're a couple of years into their career,” he said.
Why Leight believes mentoring and preparing the next generation of STEM/Built Environment leaders is so important:
“In general, work on infrastructure never ends, right? So it's important that we have a pipeline of talent that's coming into the industry
who can work on transportation projects. Transportation is a basic societal need like food and water. If you don't have it, you can't get the
things you need,” Leight said.
“And from a personal perspective, I'm a first-generation college student in my family — second only to my sister — and I kind
of stumbled into this industry and found a great career and a great industry. So, I want to help the kids out there and let them know that
there's a great career out here and try to support them if they're interested in doing this.”