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Scholarship-winning intern explores his passion at Hanson

Young minds are the future of our industry. Each year, Hanson welcomes a group of diverse, dynamic college interns from across the country to spend the summer learning from our mentors. The time the students spend with us teaches them many valuable aspects of working in their chosen field; meanwhile, their presence enriches our employees and project efforts.

Every summer of Hanson internships culminates in the students creating presentations about their accomplishments, with one intern earning a $1,000 scholarship, which is given each summer to an intern who goes above and beyond to demonstrate collaboration and teamwork within Hanson’s intern program. This year’s winner is environmental engineering major Mason Johnson, who graduated in June from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California, and is pursuing his master’s degree in hydrology and hydrodynamics at the University of Washington in Seattle.

a photo of mason johnson at his desk in the Hanson springfield office

Mason Johnson, a 2022 summer intern for Hanson’s railway team in Springfield, Illinois, won a $1,000 scholarship after creating an essay and participating in a panel interview. Mason is pursuing his master’s degree in hydrology and hydrodynamics at the University of Washington in Seattle.

A career path comes into focus

Mason spent his summer at Hanson’s headquarters in Springfield, Illinois, working within the railway market. He collaborated with staff while conducting hydrologic analysis and building hydraulic models for bridges and box culverts, including a large highway bridge, to enable them to perform better during major storm events. 

“My degree primarily focused on topics very different from the work I did this summer, and I had only taken a few elective courses related to my current work,” Mason said. “I am incredibly thankful for that, as it gave me the opportunity to learn so much more new information this summer and discover something that I am very passionate about further pursuing professionally.”

He added, “I start my master’s in hydrology and hydrodynamics this fall, and this internship has taken a load off my shoulders by making me aware of how interested I am in the field of water resources engineering. The work simultaneously engages my passion for design and the importance I feel for protecting natural resources, and I am more excited than ever to learn more about the topic.”

‘Better in the long run’

When Mason considered where to apply for his internship, Hanson stood out for several reasons. “I was impressed with the value that the company places on work-life balance, and I also appreciated that Hanson is employee-owned, giving everyone a personal reason to work hard and produce quality deliverables for our clients. Also, my interviewers were friendly and gave the impression that they deeply enjoy their work and the platform that Hanson provides for them to do what they love.”

Mason noted how his Hanson supervisors and colleagues supported him through his internship by allowing him autonomy to learn while working through the tasks he was assigned. “My managers let me discover projects for myself rather than telling me how to think about the tasks upfront,” he said, “which I feel enhanced my learning experience and will make me a better engineer in the long run.”

Mason feels strongly about groundwater conservation and monitoring the presence of pollutants in natural watersheds and ecosystems. “I hope to tie together a career in water resources engineering with environmental protection, possibly in the form of groundwater pollution analysis,” he said.

Independence complements collaboration

Another passion of Mason’s is sports; he grew up swimming and joined the Cal Poly triathlon team, which advanced to the Collegiate Club Nationals competition in April 2022. As a lifelong competitor, he sees qualities in team- and individual-sport athletes that parallel values found in successful engineers.

“I think my experience playing mainly individual sports prepared me well for an engineering internship, because engineers are often required to perform with a large degree of autonomy and technical knowledge. Much like swimming and other individual sports, engineers rely on each other for accountability and verifying accuracy, and everyone’s work contributes to the project result. Ultimately, though, the small strokes of a project are solo efforts.

“Engineering is an exciting discipline for me because it demands me to gain exceptional knowledge in some areas and general proficiency in others,” Mason said.

“I think working in an environment like Hanson, with so many talented individuals from a variety of backgrounds, is like sports because team members must delegate and trust each other to complete their work with excellence. Only when you strike a balance between team and solo success can you realize your greatest .”

For more information about Hanson’s internship program, contact Teresa Mazzini at

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