Meet the Interns

SMMA interns, Kelly Papa, Diego Macias, Shuwei Liu, Nicholas Emma, Erin Comeau, Daniel Clasby
Summer is in full swing: A time for beach days and barbecues, flip-flops and fireworks, iced tea and . . . interns?


For a few months every year, SMMA affords a select number of students—all aspiring architects and engineers—the opportunity to bring the knowledge and design skills they've acquired throughout their studies to bear on real-world commissions. Our interns gain hands-on studio experience, becoming part of project teams and learning lessons that go beyond the classroom. This summer, we're happy to have six interns on board—quite possibly a record for us—and we'd like to tell you a little bit more about each of them.

Daniel Clasby

The newest addition to both our Civil Engineering Department and Providence office, Dan Clasby is a student at UMass Amherst double-majoring in civil and environmental engineering, and sustainable design and construction. He shares much in common with SMMAers—such as experience acting as the president of the University's Student Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers, interests in advancing sustainable outcomes, and being aficionados of the musical stylings of Yo-Yo Ma. This summer, Dan is helping to further projects for Templeton Elementary School and Warwick High School, assisting in the design of accessible parking, efficient paving, and eco-friendly water-management solutions.

"I love learning about natural systems—human and not, cooperative and competitive—and using them to guide the development of environments, communities, and lifestyles."

Erin Comeau

An undergrad at the University of Delaware, Erin is back for her second summer with SMMA. This time, however, she's decided to change things up a bit, moving from Civil Engineering—her declared major—to Structural. Exposure to a number of disciplines and practice groups is helping her decide which direction she wants to take post-college. Her lifelong interest in construction and proficiency in mathematics led her into engineering, but more recently, she's discovered a passion for design, which she hopes to continue to explore going forward. 

"I'm currently working on hand calculations, as well as doing some steel design. I hope to gain a deeper understanding of how a professional practice operates so that I am prepared for when I embark on a career after graduation. I also hope to gain knowledge of different design typologies so that I can better choose my last year's classes."

Nicholas Emma

Nicholas’s experience with SMMA dates back to April’s firm-hosted design critique for graduate students in Roger Williams University’s architecture program. That day, he met Michael Kyes, who helped facilitate a summer opportunity. Nicholas’s favorite part of his job is first understanding a client and the program they require, so that he can design and develop environments that suit their needs. Nicholas is currently engaged in SMMA’s master plan for Watertown Public Schools.

"Growing up, I loved playing with Legos, and as I got older, that love of building only grew. I realized that architecture would allow me to continue to designing buildings and structures in the real world, and my career choice was made! My goal is to design spaces that will help people grow, thrive, and allow them to be their best self."

Shuwei Liu

We are fortunate to have Shuwei with us for not only a summer, but a full year. She will work closely with Andy Elliott and our other landscape architects on projects like 5 Technology Park Drive and 321 Harrison Avenue. Shuwei's introduction to SMMA came when the firm attended a career fair at her school, Purdue University, and she was immediately attracted to our project portfolio, as well as the prospect of working with a number of in-house areas of expertise.

"I decided to pursue landscape architecture because, firstly, I love plants. Equally important, though: I am excited about the sense of accomplishment I know I'll feel when I've designed a place that people will use and enjoy."

Diego Macias

Diego is another transplant from the Midwest, coming to SMMA from the University of Cincinnati, where he is pursuing a Master of Architecture degree. A number of factors influenced his decision to come to SMMA, including the firm's location and its focus on sustainability, the opportunity to work with in-house engineers, and the designs featured on the website. He was drawn to the profession because of what he calls "the architect's responsibility" and their ability to control the built environment, citing architects like Frank Gehry and Luis Barragán as inspirations. He has been spending time this summer visualizing data in Tableau for the Watertown School District.

"My favorite part of my work is that it involves both right- and left-brain activities, and ultimately results in a building that people will use and live with."

Kelly Papa

Among this group, Kelly is the seasoned veteran: An architecture graduate student at Roger Williams University, this is her third summer with SMMA, and she has an extensive amount of project experience that includes Winchester High School and the new home of Providence College's School of Business. This go-round, Kelly is excited to work on more nascent projects, like Somerville and Waltham High Schools, and she cites SMMA's size and interdisciplinary composition as among the reasons she looks forward to returning year after year. 

"I've always been interested in art and buildings. When I was eight years old, I had a strong urge to reorganize my bedroom. My dad said that nothing would fit any way other than how it was. So one day, when he came home from work, I gave him a detailed plan layout with dimensions of every piece of furniture, and showed him different possibilities. We started reorganizing the next week."