Kevin Gu, Civil Engineer

Kevin Gu, Civil Engineer
Kevin Gu, Civil Engineer

I was born and raised in Changchun, China, which is about 600 miles north east of Beijing. In 2001, I packed up everything and moved to Klamath Falls, Oregon to live with my dad. Moving from a city of over 4 million people to a town with barely 20,000 in a different country was quite a culture shock. I spent the next 11 years in Klamath Falls, going to school during the day and working in my dad’s restaurant at night. After high school, I attended the local college, Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT), so I can continue to help with the family business. I graduated in 2011 with a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering. Upon completing my undergraduate studies, I accepted a permanent job as a Civil Engineer on the Olympic National Forest.

I first gained exposure to the Forest Service through the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP). I was recruited during my junior year in college and worked on the Olympic and Fremont-Winema National Forest as a SCEP Engineer Trainee. During my internship, I had the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of projects including both the design and construction aspects of Engineering. As I worked at the districts that are remote, I quickly realized that the communities around the forests are usually less populated, often times less than 20,000 people. In rural areas like this, Engineering and the Forest Service do more than just to manage the public lands. We also have a big impact on the local economy (logging and other harvesting activities) and the welfare of the people (subsistence through hunting and fishing). Knowing my work has a direct relationship with the lives of others can be very fulfilling.

When I was asked: why did you join the Forest Service, the honest answer is “the variety of opportunities available for my line of work.” Engineering jobs in the private industry often times focus on one particular area of Engineering; such as working with roads, buildings, or land development. Forest Service Engineering offers the rare opportunity to gain experience in all aspects of Engineering, where one could be working on a low volume road design one day, and the next day get assigned to multi-million dollar construction projects. During my internship, I had the opportunities to be involved in a variety of projects like roads, retaining walls, culverts and aquatic organism passages, transportation planning, and construction management. This particular reason is why I chose to work for the Forest Service.

After working fulltime for four years, I had lots of on the job training and enjoying working in the outdoors. I have always wanted to continue my education, but felt it would be better to first get some real working experience before pursuing additional education. I recently enrolled into an Engineering graduate program at the University of Washington. In my free time, I enjoy fishing, camping, traveling, or just hanging out with friends. Between the fulltime job and going to school, most of my free time is gone, but the alternative working schedule offered by the Forest Service makes it a lot easier to juggle the different things I want to do. Overall, I am very happy with my decision to join the Forest Service and I look forward to the opportunities this job will bring to me in the future.

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