In episode 9 of The Geotechnical Engineering Podcast, we talk to Menzer Pehlivan, Ph.D., P.E. a geotechnical engineer with a specialization in seismic hazards and resiliency. Menzer knows four languages, has a Ph.D., spent two years working in New York, was featured in a movie, and is now working at Jacobs in Seattle. And in this episode, we have the privilege to talk to this successful engineer about earthquake engineering, and diversity and inclusion in the engineering world.
In this episode of The Geotechnical Engineering Podcast, I talk to Peggy Hagerty Duffy, P.E., D.GE, M.ASCE, president at Hagerty Engineering, Inc., about starting a successful engineering firm. Peggy shares some of the valuable lessons she learned when starting her firm and how she overcame obstacles in her path.
Here Are Some of the Questions We Ask Peggy Hagerty Duffy, P.E., D.GE, M.ASCE, in This Episode:
- Can you tell us what it is like to be the President of Hagerty Engineering?
- What made you decide to take the geotechnical engineering path?
- Do you have to love math to be an engineer?
- Why did you start your blog and what experiences have you had because of it?
- Can you tell us about the deep foundation video that you were in and what your role was in it?
- What made you decide to start your own firm?
- Did you have any fears when you started your firm and how did you overcome them?
- If you had to look back, did you make the right decision to start a firm?
- Is there anything that you can think of doing differently in your firm?
- What is your advice for geotechnical engineers who are thinking about starting their firm?
- With your firm’s involvement with ADSC, how do you find time to do everything, and how does it align with your responsibilities and professional career?
- At what point do you think in someone’s career should they start looking at getting engaged with professional organizations?
Here Are Some of the Key Points Discussed About How to Start and Grow a Successful Engineering Firm:
- Peggy started her geotechnical engineering career by conducting basic geotechnical investigations, and still does this from time to time. She has kept her company small because she does not want to go to a level of just management — she still wants to be active in the field. The company is in an area where there are many sinkholes, and it excites her to work on projects that involve working with sinkholes.
- Peggy started studying in the medical field, however, she had helped her dad with research projects and discovered that she enjoyed doing that kind of work, and so decided to pursue a geotechnical engineering career.
- You do not need to love math to be an engineer, but you do need to be able to do it.
- There are not many women in the geotechnical engineering field, and the few that are there feel like they cannot talk about having rough days at a site. This is because they are mostly scared someone is going to pull them off of the project and replace them with a man. Peggy’s blog serves as an outlet for women, and they are encouraged to join in and share their experiences.
- Peggy was 30 years old when she decided to start her firm. She decided to do this because she did not agree with the philosophy of many of the places she worked at. Many firms put the business decisions before the engineering decisions, but Peggy wanted to do this the other way around: engineering decisions and ethics first.
- When starting her firm, Peggy was more nervous about the business side of things than the engineering side. She thought in a way where she felt responsible for the mortgages of all the people who worked in her firm. She has a spontaneous personality and when she decided to start her firm, she said she was doing it and not looking back.
- Hagerty Engineering Inc., does a lot of outreach and support of community construction projects.
- If you get involved with all of your employees’ personal problems, then you are not being a good manager, and this takes a while to learn.
- The ADSC is Hagerty Engineering’s biggest client, and they service their technical director. They oversee all of ADSC’s technical committee work and all the research that is done with the association. They are also the liaison with federal estate agencies and represent members in technical issues.
- You should start engaging with professional organizations as soon as you can. This will help you early in your career to get help with problems from people who have done it before.
More Details in This Episode…
About Peggy Hagerty Duffy, P.E., D.GE, M.ASCE
Peggy Hagerty Duffy, P.E., D.GE, M.ASCE, graduated from the University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky, with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in 1989 and a Master of Engineering in Civil Engineering degree with a concentration in geotechnical engineering in 1990. She worked for several consulting firms before starting Hagerty Engineering in 1997 in Jeffersonville, Indiana, in the metro Louisville, Kentucky, area.
Peggy has experience with both deep and shallow foundations for a wide variety of structures, including municipal facilities, wastewater treatment and water treatment plants, multifamily and single-family housing, industrial complexes, and many others. She also has experience with tunnel and dam design and with dam remediation, as well as slope stability analysis. She has extensive experience in karst terrain and has worked on hundreds of projects involving sinkhole treatment and design and construction of structures over sinkholes.
This episode was brought to you by Aero Aggregates. Aero Aggregates is the first vertically integrated manufacturer of ultra-lightweight foamed glass aggregate in North America made from 100% recycled glass. This sustainable aggregate has bulk densities that are 80% to 90% lower than traditional fill, is free-draining and non-reactive, and has a high friction angle. If your project site is challenged by resiliency concerns, raising grades over soft soils, sensitive utilities, or structures, or the need to reduce lateral loads, foamed glass aggregate can often accelerate construction, reduce project costs, and offer green credits for LEED and ENVISION programs. Please visit www.aeroaggregates.com.
This episode was also brought to you by Menard Group USA. Do you have projects where you are faced with building on soft or loose ground? Does it seem like all the good sites are taken and you are always building on poor soils that are a challenge for conventional foundation approaches? Menard may be able to help! As a specialty ground improvement contractor, Menard works nationally and internationally providing design-build ground improvement solutions at sites with problematic soils. Menard’s techniques include Controlled Modulus Columns, wick drains, earthquake drains, vibro stone columns, dynamic compaction, rapid impact compaction, and soil mixing. Typical projects include warehouses, buildings, material storage piles, processing areas, embankments, roadways, port facilities, storage tanks, containment structures, and platforms. In many cases, ground improvement is less costly than traditional approaches such as removal and replacement or piling systems. Menard works closely with civil, structural, and geotechnical engineers to minimize foundation costs for wide ranges of soil conditions, structure types, and loading conditions. To learn more about Menard Group USA, or for help on your next project, please visit www.menardgroupusa.com
Please leave your comments or questions in the section below on starting your own successful engineering firm.
To your success,
Jared M. Green, P.E., D.GE
Host of The Geotechnical Engineering Podcast
In this episode of The Geotechnical Engineering Podcast, I talk to Michael Wysockey, Ph.D., P.E., who is the president of Thatcher Foundations, Inc. Michael dives into some very interesting items including deep foundations, earth retention, marine construction, and safety considerations from a geotechnical specialty contractor’s perspective.
Here Are Some of the Questions We Ask Michael in This Episode:
- What do you do daily at Thatcher Foundations, Inc.?
- How did receiving the Wilson and Peck Fellowships benefit your geotechnical engineering career?
- You have many publications; can you tell us about your paper on the Accuracy of Methods Predicting Axial Capacity in Deep Foundations?
- As a geotechnical professional, where do you learn about things like building codes and union agreements?
- What kinds of techniques should young engineers be thinking about when they design something?
- How much do you get into the codes and regulations in designs?
- What have you learned from the marine projects that you have done?
- What excites you about geotechnical engineering today, and in the future?
Here Are Some of the Key Points Discussed About Deep Foundations, Earth Retention, Marine Construction, and Safety Considerations:
In this episode of The Geotechnical Engineering Podcast, we talk to Joanna Smith, MSCE, a young successful Geotechnical Engineer with five years of experience in the areas of pile design and inspection, technical writing, project management, and leadership. At such a young age, she has achieved an enormous amount of success in her career, and in this episode, we talk about her career success and the things she has done to help engineering students succeed and women to excel in their field.
Here Are Some of the Questions We Ask Joanna in This Episode:
- What you do at AECOM on a daily basis?
- There is a lot that you can do in the geotechnical engineering and civil engineering fields. Why is it that you decided to become a geotechnical engineer?
- You are currently the geotechnical engineering lead of the $1.9 billion Hunts Point interstate access improvement project. Can you tell us more about this?
- Can you talk about when you were an intern in Germany and were working on the rehabilitation of military structures?
- How do you strive to improve diversity inclusion in the civil and geotechnical worlds?
- What has mentorship been like for you and what has it meant to you as a mentor?
- You started a company called DaleySmithInc, which incorporates STEM, engineering, and music. Can you tell us more about it?
- Could you please talk about the quote that was mentioned in your bio?
Here Are Some of the Key Points Discussed with This Young Successful Geotechnical Engineer:
In this episode of The Geotechnical Engineering Podcast, we talk to Dr. Kancheepuram N. Gunalan (Guna), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 2020 National President and Senior Vice President at AECOM about his career in the geotechnical field, his time as ASCE president, and why he thinks geotechnical engineering is critical to the future of the built world.
Here Are Some of the Questions We Ask Dr. Kancheepuram N. Gunalan, Ph.D., P.E., D.GE, F.ASCE in This Episode:
In episode 065 of The Civil Engineering Podcast, I talk with David Gockel, PE, PP, LEED AP, CEO of Langan Engineering & Environmental Services, about how a day in the life of a geotechnical engineering CEO looks, especially one that is in charge of a very fast-growing firm.
Here are some of the questions I ask Dave:
- What prevents engineers from learning other skill sets?
- How did you acquire the skills needed to get to where you are today?
- Tell me about a memorable success in your career.
- Tell me about one of the mistakes you’ve made and what you learned from it.
- Is it true that if civil engineers want to achieve a partner/owner status in their firms, that they must be a great business developer?
- What is one valuable piece of advice that you can give to a striving seller-doer?
- At what point in your career (if ever) did you have a goal of being the CEO?
- How would you summarize your job description as CEO?
- Would you take us through a typical day as CEO?
- What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a CEO?