George White Jr.
George White Jr.: Pursuing Excellence as an Engineer, Volunteer and Mentor
Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, 2013 | School of Computing and Engineering
Title: Proposal Manager, Black & Veatch Power Generation Services Group
Hometown: Kansas City, MO
What was your favorite thing about UMKC?
I was able to go to school right around where the internships and jobs were. If you go to networking functions as a student, you’re going to meet people who could potentially give you a job – that was huge for me.
How did you choose your field of study?
I have always enjoyed science. I am naturally curious about how things work. Engineering provides a great quality of life and a vast amount of work opportunities.
Who was the most influential faculty or staff member at UMKC?
Selena Albert. She is a staff member in the School of Computing and Engineering, and she assisted a couple of the student organizations. She was always there, always helpful. Even if it was the weekend or at night, she made sure the organization ran smoothly. I don’t know how often she gets praised, but she deserves it.
“Try to enjoy the small moments with your peers or in student clubs or in class. That’s what you look back on and treasure.”
Were you the first person in your family to attend college?
Yes. My parents didn’t know anything about FAFSA or financial aid. They were there, but I had to figure a lot of that stuff out on my own. Now I can help my cousins and other people coming behind me. I hope I started a trend – my younger brother graduated college after me and my older sister is in classes right now.
What did you learn about yourself at UMKC?
I learned quite a bit about leadership at UMKC. I was in a leadership role with the National Society of Black Engineers chapter (NSBE). I got to build a program for area middle and high school students where they could learn about engineering. The next year I stepped up into the role of vice president, participated in setting the strategic plan and mentored our younger members.
What groups were you involved in at UMKC?
A lot of my blood, sweat and tears went into the National Society of Black Engineers. I was also a part of the American Concrete Institute and a SMART peer mentor.
What is your favorite memory of UMKC?
It wasn’t necessarily fun at the time, but I always remember the group of folks that would get together and study for finals. We were pretty close and we all came from different places. I see UMKC as a little non-traditional, in that there are a lot of older students and it’s in the middle of a city. People from all different backgrounds made for a really good blend.
Do you have any advice for students entering UMKC?
Get involved and enjoy your time as a student. I thought a lot about graduating and getting a job and all that kind of stuff. That’s great, obviously – a paycheck and doing what you went to school for – but try to enjoy the small moments with your peers or in student clubs or in class. That’s what you look back on and treasure.
Tell us about your current position.
I’m in proposals management at Black & Veatch. I work internally with project managers, our sales team and subject matter experts to respond to clients and bring in business.
How does your UMKC education help you in your day-to-day work?
The classes at UMKC were excellent in building a foundation in the engineering world, but I think the student organizations were the most influential thing. For students just getting to campus, I’d say definitely get involved, and get really involved. You get out of it what you put into it.
What are the challenges of your field?
The engineering consulting industry is quite competitive. This requires us to really hone in on our service offerings and provide our clients with the best cost-effective solutions.
What are the benefits?
Engineering is an industry in which you can move around, try different things. I currently work in an office setting, but I also have the option to work in the field or in a lab environment. I could also travel quite often and interact with clients in a sales capacity – the opportunities are endless.
What is one word that best describes you and why?
Ambitious. I do my best to utilize all of the time that I am given here on this earth. I occupy my time by working for Black & Veatch, mentoring my little brother with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, serving as a member of the Centurions Leadership Program, helping lead the Black & Veatch Christmas in October volunteer program, running a plumbing company and being the best husband, son, brother, uncle and friend I can be.
What are your goals for the future?
I’d like to get my professional engineering license within the next couple years. Only a professional engineer can stamp, seal and approve a blueprint for a building. You become a professional engineer by sitting through an exam after you’ve worked as an engineer-in-training for four years.
Do you have a motto you live by?
Push yourself to be uncomfortable, because that’s when you grow. It’s not fun all the time, but it’s true.
What’s your favorite place in Kansas City?