In this episode, I talk to Trudi Williams, PE, Vice President, and Regional Director of one of the premier civil, structural, and environmental engineering firms in Southwest Florida, CONSOR Engineers, about three key career themes that you can use to grow your civil engineering career or firm.
In this episode, we talk to Wendi Pillars, author, educator, leader, visual strategist, and graphic facilitator, about visual thinking and how it can help engineers to strengthen their thinking skills and become better communicators.
Here Are Some of the Key Points Discussed About Visual Thinking for Engineers:
I am a member of the social networking site “Nextdoor” (I call it a nosy neighbor site). I joined for the COVID updates and to volunteer my superpowers as a relatively young, low-COVID-risk person. But I stayed for the complete insanity that is village gossip. I was a little shocked to get a notification from my county saying “Civil Engineers!!! We need you!” I clicked on the post and it sounded a little desperate. It seems my county doesn’t mind what stage of your career you are in, what area of civil engineering you are in, or even if you get your job ads from a site used primarily to discuss whose dog is barking at what time.
In the same week, I got an email from a city not too far from me, where I had unsuccessfully applied for a job in 2016, asking me if I would like to apply for a job again. They provided a link to the job they were thinking about, but stressed that if anything else caught my eye I should apply for that too.
The following week I got two messages on LinkedIn from recruiters about civil engineering jobs, located about two hours away, that they thought I might like to apply for.
Now is a good time to point out that while I have worked as a civil engineer before, until now I have never been recruited as one. There is a convincing argument that when you get a Ph.D., you will no longer be a good engineer. Clearly this is an oversimplification, and an enjoyable discussion can be had on this. But I would say that I can’t think of a person I know, or know of (other than me), who has done graduate-level research and then gone into an EIT or P.E. role exclusively. So it should make sense when I tell you that previously, all the messages I got recruiting me to apply for a job were for jobs in R&D, teaching and talking about research, or in one fun case setting up experiments for a TV show. But not civil engineering jobs. As such, these latest recruiting messages conjured up visions of a barrel and an entire HR department reaching as far as they can to the base.
So what’s happening and should we be worried? Well, lots, and yes, always.
This is a guest post by Patrick Sweet, P.Eng., MBA, PMP, CSEP
Whether you realize it or not, you have a brand. This may come as a surprise to you. After all, you’re an engineering manager, and not some sort of company or a product. But it’s true. In fact, everyone has a brand. Everyone is known for something among their friends and colleagues. The real question is not so much whether you have a brand but rather what it is, whether you’re managing it, and whether you’re taking advantage of it in your career.
Back to Basics: What Is a Brand?
The best way to think of a brand is that it’s a summary of who you are, what you do, and what you believe in. In other words, your brand is the shorthand way the world thinks about you.
In the business world, brands are manicured and managed with precision. Volvo, for instance, prides itself on making some of the safest cars in the world, and they promote that fact about themselves. They want to be known as the “safe car” company in the minds of their customers and potential customers. Walmart, on the other hand, has a strong brand tied to saving people money. Both are very different, but very strong brands.
To help brands stick in the minds of their customers, companies use things like logos, slogans, jingles, color pallets, fonts, and many other devices to communicate their brand.
Branding is incredibly important when it comes to positioning a company. It makes it easier for a customer to link an organization or product to a need they have. The easier it is to make that link, the more likely the customer will chose a particular solution.
The Power of Branding for Individuals
In this episode, we talk to Ben Haugen, Director of Business Development for Remote Sensing at GeoStabilization International, about geohazard monitoring and mitigation, how it benefits the community, and some of the things that engineers can do to prioritize the mitigation of geohazards.
Here Are Some of the Questions We Ask Ben:
- What is geohazards monitoring and mitigation, and why is it important in engineering?
- What are some of the main causes of geohazards?
- In what way does geohazard monitoring benefit the community?
- What are some of the types of geospatial data that are collected, what collection techniques are used, and how important is it to accurately interpret these critical geospatial data monitors in at-risk areas?
- How can analysis of natural hazards in real time provide a better understanding of risk and preparation for geohazard potentials?
- What are some of the things that engineers can do to prioritize the mitigation of geohazards?
- What advice would you like to give to our young engineers?
Here Are Some of the Key Points Discussed About Geohazard Monitoring and Mitigation:
Here Are Some of the Questions I Ask Will:
- Why is marketing important for both small and large engineering firms?
- For someone new to marketing in engineering, what advice can you share with them to get them started with marketing?
- What about marketing on platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook?
- How do marketing strategies help firms?
- What would you say is the best overall marketing strategy to market an engineering firm?
Here Are Some Key Points Discussed in This Episode About How AEC Firms Can Market Their Companies:
Here Are Some Key Points Discussed in This Episode About Taking Action:
When someone asks what I do and I tell them that I am a geotechnical engineer, I usually get the follow-up question of, “What is that?” Geotechnical engineering is a specialized branch of civil engineering that deals with the science of the mechanics of soil and rock and its applications. Essentially, geotechnical engineering is involved with anything that is built in the ground or out of soil and rock. In this article, I will discuss the role of geotechnical engineering and the types of problems geotechnical engineers solve.
What Types of Projects Are Geotechnical Engineers Involved In?
Geotechnical engineers (geotechs) are involved in nearly every type of civil engineering project. After all, every structure is supported by soil or rock unless it is floating, flying, or falling down. Some of the more common types of projects that geotechs are involved in include tunnels, dams, highways, embankments, landfills, and levees.
What Are the Responsibilities of a Geotech?
Geotechs are normally most involved at the beginning of a project. Some of the tasks that a geotech may be responsible for are investigating subsurface conditions, determining required lab testing of soil and rock, interpreting the subsurface exploration results, and writing reports that document the site conditions and provide recommendations for foundations, fill specifications, slope stability, etc.
Are Geotechs Only Used on Large Engineering Projects?
No way! Consulting with a geotechnical engineer can be helpful even on smaller residential projects. Often, people do not want to pay for geotechnical reports or design on smaller projects, but the cost of a consultant is typically much cheaper than paying for extensive foundation repairs in the future.
What Types of Structures Do Geotechs Design?
Geotechs are involved in the design of highway cuts and fills, shallow and deep foundations, earth retaining structures, embankments, tunnels, landfills, dams, slope stabilization systems, and pavement subgrades.
Are There Specialties Within Geotechnical Engineering?
Yes, geotechnical engineering covers a broad spectrum of topics including, but not limited to, unsaturated soil mechanics, rock mechanics, geosynthetics, offshore geotechnics, ground improvement, liquefaction of soils and earthquake engineering, slope stability and landslide stabilization, computational geomechanics, and foundations. It is not uncommon for geotechnical engineers to specialize in only one of the areas listed above and study that subject their entire career.
Geotechnical engineering is an important aspect of any civil engineering project. No matter how great a structure is built, it will not be great for long if the foundation is inadequate. It is important to keep geotechnical engineers involved throughout the duration of projects so that if unanticipated conditions are encountered, a proper course of action can be taken to mitigate any future problems. Oftentimes, things that may not seem important turn out to be important years later when issues arise. One last thing to keep in mind: geotechnical engineering is married to geology. No matter how great your engineering expertise is, if something important is missed in the geologic characterization at a site, your expertise may not save you.
About the Author: Jese H. Vance, P.E.
Jese H. Vance, P.E., graduated from Marshall University with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and received a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is currently working toward a Ph.D. in Geological Engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology. Jese works as a geotechnical engineer who specializes in geohazards. He has worked in the civil engineering consulting industry since 2012 and recently launched his own geotechnical engineering firm. Jese lives in West Virginia with his wife and son. He enjoys crawling around on any landslide he can find and spending time fly fishing on the water. He can be found on LinkedIn.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s post by guest author Jese Vance. If you’re interested in your firm possibly joining the Civil Engineering Collective, please contact us here or call us at 800-920-4007.
I hope you’ll join us.
Anthony Fasano, P.E.
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success
This is a guest blog by Carl Friesen
Being recognized as a problem solver in your organization, profession, or industry can bring big rewards. These include distinguishing yourself from people who just focus on performing a task. As a result, you can earn more respect from the people you work with. You have more control over the work you do, who you do it for, and how much you’re paid.
But to gain that reputation as a problem solver, you’ll need to gain buy-in for your proposed solutions from the people you work with. To do that, you need to communicate your ideas in terms understandable to those you need to convince. This applies whether you’re trying to “sell” your idea to one person — your supervisor — or convince thousands by writing an article for a national publication.
Just like living beings, ideas have a lifespan, and to get buy-in you need to work with that fact.
In this episode, we talk to Michelle Kam-Biron, P.E., SE, F. SEAOC, SECB, mass timber specialist at Structurlam, about mass timber in structural engineering and how engineers can become more involved in the industry.
Here Are Some of the Questions We Ask Michelle:
- What does a career in mass timber entail, and what should people considering a career in mass timber know about it?
- What would you say is the secret to being successful in the industry with the rise of mass timber?
- How can engineers become more involved in the industry and support future engineers?
- What are a few innovative projects that you have worked on in the past, and some of the new uses of mass timber in structural engineering?
- What are some of the ways that engineers can gain more information on mass timber?
- Do you have any final advice for structural engineers considering working more with mass timber?