In this episode I talk about what high school students and young adults should know about a career in civil engineering. This episode is intended to be a resource that you can share with high school students and their parents to inform them about the profession of civil engineering. You can also view this episode on our YouTube channel.
Career Goals and Challenges
In this episode, we focus on a topic that is on everyone’s minds — the coronavirus and how it should be a wake-up call to civil engineers. And we’re discussing this with Michael Paddock, PE, PS, a licensed civil engineer and surveyor. Twenty years ago, Mike was told he had three to six months to live and since then, through Engineers Without Borders (EWB), he’s helped to grow communities around the world. He also talks about his work managing mega civil engineering projects, and the one thing you must be able to handle to do so.
Here Are Some of the Questions I Ask Michael:
- Can you tell us about how you went from civil engineering to dedicating your time to Engineers Without Borders?
- How old were you when you got the news about your stage 4 cancer?
- When you get this news from the doctor, how did you proceed over the coming months?
- You recently wrote an article for ASCE entitled, “Coronavirus a Wake-Up Call for Civil Engineers.” Can you tell us about the article?
- How did you find out about EWB and what moved you towards them?
- EWB is a membership organization. Could you please explain to us how it works?
- Did finding out that you had cancer change your life philosophy?
- What is it like to manage mega-projects?
- What are some of the skills needed to be able to work on mega-projects?
- In terms of getting good at managing mega-projects, is on the job experience the main way to get good?
Here Are Some Key Points Discussed in This Episode About the Coronavirus and How We as Civil Engineers Can Make an Impact
In this episode, I talk with Áine O’Dwyer, PE, Principal and CEO at Enovate Engineering, about various civil engineering career topics including the challenges she faced when working in the construction industry, starting a new firm, and how she achieved success despite these challenges at such a young age to become a civil engineering CEO.
Here Are Some of the Questions We Ask Áine:
- What made you interested in civil engineering?
- What skillsets helped you to get into management at such a young age?
- How did you rise through the ranks and start your own company?
- What is it that drives you daily?
- How did you develop your confidence as a civil engineering CEO?
- How can civil engineering professionals find opportunities in their careers?
Here Are Some of the Key Points Discussed in This Episode:
In episode 130 of The Civil Engineering Podcast, our fifth episode in our Women in Civil Engineering series, we’re taking you with us to Hawaii to visit Coffman Engineers. There we talk to Jami Hirota PE, LEED AP, a civil engineer and experienced project manager that manages a quickly growing civil engineering department. Jamie will discuss the impact that major career decisions and transitions as a civil engineer can have on your career and tell us about a very difficult career decision she had to make around leaving the family engineering business and how it has impacted her civil engineering career and her personal life.
Here Are Some of the Questions I Ask Jami:
- What are some of the benefits of working for a small civil engineering firm?
- How is civil engineering different in Hawaii?
- Is there a lot of work for engineers in the public sector in Hawaii?
- How has being a female engineer in the industry impacted you in your civil engineering career?
- How did you manage transitions as a civil engineer in your career?
- What is your philosophy on management?
Here Are Some Key Points Discussed in This Episode About Career Decisions and Transitions as a Civil Engineer:
In episode 122 of The Civil Engineering Podcast, I provide some strategies for working faster but also working smarter as a civil engineering professional. In today’s fast paced world, engineers need to work faster to get everything on their plates accomplished. Working fast often leads to making many mistakes which can be catastrophic in the civil engineering world, but what if you could work faster, but also smarter? If you can do this, you will be setting yourself up for major success.
Here Are 7 Strategies That You Can Use to Work Faster but Also Work Smarter as a Civil Engineering Professional:
In episode 120 of The Civil Engineering Podcast, you are going to hear interviews from my recent visit to the ASCE Structural Engineering Institute (SEI) Structures Congress. The interviews will cover both technical and professional development topics related to civil and structural engineering as well as personal development including effective communication skills for engineers.
Here Are Some of the Questions We Ask Our Guests in This Episode:
In episode 119 of The Civil Engineering Podcast, I visit with John M. Keller PE, PMP, who serves as the Executive Director of The New Jersey Turnpike Authority. We talk about the differences between working in the public sector versus private sector and John provides some very specific examples, which may help you if you are deciding between these two career paths.
Here Are Some of the Questions I Ask John Keller during the interview:
In episode 113 of The Civil Engineering Podcast, I talk with Gina Rock who is the Program Delivery Manager at Jacobs. We talk about her career journey from the circus to Disney’s longest flying Tinker Bell (yes she was Tinker Bell) and then into the world of engineering. What I love about this episode is it really emphasizes how it’s never too late to make changes in your career path.
Here Are Some of the Questions I Ask Gina About Her Journey as Disney’s Longest Flying Tinker Bell:
- How did you end up being Disney’s longest flying Tinker Bell?
- What did it feel like for you when you found out you got the job as Tinker Bell in Disneyland?
- Tell us about your performance as Tinker Bell?
- What made you decide to go back to the engineering field?
- How did you feel when you started with your first individual assistance job?
- What makes a manager or leader effective in your experience?
Here are some key points discussed in this episode:
In episode 111 of The Civil Engineering Podcast, I am going to give you five reasons why ALL civil engineers should get field experience on project sites as early on as possible in their careers. The purpose of this episode is to reinforce the importance of on-site experience for civil engineering professionals.
Here Are the Reasons Why I Think All Civil Engineers Should Gain Field Experience
1. It Helps You to Be a Practical Engineer
I started out in high school doing land surveying (see photo above) over the summers and it really changed my career. Because of my field experience, I was able to make my designs more practical and create better details for the contractors who had to construct the projects I worked on.
2. Engineering Field Experience Allows You to Start with the End in Mind so You Don’t Just Start with the Design First
A lot of civil engineers start designing projects immediately, without seeing the project sites, however the problem with this is if you didn’t see the site, there may be a condition out there that you are not aware of. When you are forced to think in reverse and you’ve seen projects built before and then you start to do your design work, those construction issues comes to the forefront of your mind, which forces you to think with the end in mind first.
3. Engineering Field Experience Forces You to Interact with People
Civil Engineering to me is about people. We work on project teams, we work with architects, contractors, developers, real estate developers and other engineers constantly. If we are not focused on improving our people skills 100%, we are going to battle to be great civil engineers.
4. You Get to Know the Industry and Construction Lingo
Field experience helps you to learn how to talk to other civil engineering professionals effectively. It improves your overall confidence as an engineer and makes you stand out from the crowd.
5. Once You Get Promoted and Move up in Your Career, Your Chances of Gaining Field Experience Diminish Greatly
Civil engineering managers typically send younger engineers into the field to do inspections, reports etc. While you are young and you have the chance, you should grab the opportunity with both hands as this will have an incredibly positive impact on your engineering career.
More details in this episode…
Engineering Management Accelerator Workshop (Online) | 5 PDHs
Engineering Management Institute Professional Membership
Engineer to Manager: On-demand
Engineering Management Institute YouTube Channel
ASCE Careers and Leadership Column
EQUATION: The Engineering Management Skills Trilogy Plus the Theory of Constraints Equals Effective Engineering Managers
This episode is brought to you by PPI, the leader of civil engineering FE or PE exam preparations. Visit ppi2pass.com to find essential licensure exam prep books, digital review, and helpful tips and advice.
Please leave your comments or questions in the section below on gaining field experience in your career.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success
In episode 109 of The Civil Engineering Podcast, I talk with Nils Gransberg, MS on topics related to Construction Engineering. Nils also tells us about the research he is conducting into negotiated bid contracts, and about his military background and experience.
Here are some of the questions I ask Nils:
- Tell us more about the discipline of Construction Engineering?
- Why did you decide to get your PhD?
- Tell us about your research on negotiated bid contract delivery in public projects?
- Can you talk about what it was like being a civil engineer in the military?