Balloon-powered car wins engineering contest

Staff reports
Intern and Dutchtown High School student Amber Couvillion, left, works with Glenn Shaheen engineer Aleaha Shaheen Morgan at the firm’s office in Gonzales.

BATON ROUGE –  Spending a day in the life of an engineer is just a typical day for Dutchtown High School student Amber Couvillion who helped design her team’s winning balloon powered car at this year’s annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day held at the BREC Independence Park.

At the event, Couvillion spent an enlightening time participating in several hands-on engineering challenges.

Nearly 125 girls were divided between several rooms each offering an activity to teach the duties associated with different types of engineers. Couvillion and her team were given basic household materials such as straws and cardboard and were required to utilize creativity and critical thinking to successfully complete a task.

As a child, Couvillion’s grandfather sparked her initial interest in engineering when she began visiting his plant and watching as he worked alongside engineers. Now approaching her college career, Couvillion credits GSA Consulting Engineers in Gonzales for their ongoing support and guidance as she gets closer to following her childhood dream.

Throughout her internship at GSA, Couvillion says that her coworkers have always taken time to explain every task as it’s completed.

“I learn more every day,” says Couvillion who describes GSA as a creative company that welcomes challenges and is always ready to lend a helping hand to the community. 

Couvillion’s internship is only one example of GSA’s eagerness to get involved with students.

“We’ve even had one candidate who interned with us and actually got a degree in civil engineering and came back to work with GSA on a full-time basis,” said company President Glenn Shaheen.

GSA also enjoys participating in high school career day activities around the parish.

Shaheen believes it is important to expose young people to the field through events such as Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day.

“If they are given the opportunity to see the hectic schedule and demands of this world and still decide to pursue a career in engineering, they have a much higher probability of being successful in it,” said Shaheen.

Couvillion plans to pursue petroleum engineering. Shaheen hopes that her work at GSA will also interest her in civil or environmental engineering. He says that Couvillion fits in well at GSA and encourages her to remain in Ascension Parish after graduating. No matter what concentration Couvillion chooses in college, she will take away a wonderful experience from her internship.

“The owners of GSA inspired me to want to own my own firm one day by how amazingly they manage their business,” she said. “GSA has given me an idea of what to look forward to, and I’m even more excited to get started.”

GSA was founded by Glenn Shaheen in 1988 to provide professional engineering and consulting services to federal, state and local governments, as well as the private sector. GSA has received recognition for award-winning work on projects such as the City of Gonzales’ Jambalaya Park and Environmental Enhancement Facility.

For more information, go to GSA’s Web site at