Work Study Program Introduces Watts Students to Engineering Profession

Los Angeles, CA (March 31, 2006) Four students from Verbum Dei, an all-boys Catholic college-prep high school in Watts, are learning about the engineering profession and acquiring vital workplace skills while earning their tuition through a work-study program at Psomas. Call it early recruitment, with a win-win for all involved.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for us to influence the future of these students and help Verbum Dei achieve their educational goals,” said Jacob Lipa, Psomas president. “It is also a great opportunity for Psomas to help develop tomorrow’s engineers,” Lipa added. “With the severe shortage of engineers in California, this is no small benefit.”

The four students work in a job-sharing team to cover a standard business week, each working one full day at Psomas’ West Los Angeles office Tuesday through Friday and rotating on Mondays. Their collective $25,000 salary for the school year will be paid by Psomas to the school to cover their tuition and fees.

In addition to administrative duties like filing, scanning and copying, the students spend time with engineers who explain the demands of the job and the education requirements involved. They are introduced to professionals at every level of the firm to get exposure to the company’s varied disciplines, from survey, planning and entitlements to transportation and GIS experts. The students attend classes in CAD and project management and even sit in on company staff meetings.

“It all started with Legos,” says Verbum Dei freshman Kerry Daigs. He has been interested in building things his whole life and is naturally gravitating to the field of engineering.  As Kerry shadows Psomas land development engineer Dave Curtis, he is gaining a real world perspective on the profession.

“These students are gaining marketable skills and getting introduced to the demands of the work environment,” said Laurie Dreyer, the company’s director of human resources. “And our employees have come to depend on their help; they have come to recognize these young men as part of the team; they know they can do the work and are eager to learn.”

About Psomas
One of the top-ranked design firms in the nation, Psomas specializes in the land development, water and transportation markets in the Western United States. The 700-employee firm provides services to the public and private sector in civil engineering, land surveying, planning and entitlements, GIS, natural resources and construction management. Psomas has offices throughout California and in Utah, Arizona, Nevada and Colorado. For more information, visit

Photo caption: Verbum Dei student and intern Kerry Daigs (right) with Psomas engineer David Curtis