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
- Civil engineers need to be actively engaged in the global health issue. Water, sanitation, and hygiene comprise the foundation of global health, and it depends on civil engineers for it to function properly.
- Two billion people on earth don’t have access to a healthcare facility that has water and sanitation. We hear on the news that washing your hands is the best line of defense against the virus, but even the staff in these healthcare facilities cannot wash their hands.
- EWB is a membership organization where you don’t have to pay any fees to be a member. You can volunteer and contribute with your skills. It has about 250 chapters over the U.S. in universities and professional organizations. To get involved, look on the EWB website for a chapter in your area and reach out to that chapter to attend some of their meetings.
- The difference between mega and large projects is mega-projects have their demands. A great design is not good enough. You need to be able to build a consensus with the community and a political consensus to fund it. The project teams are very large and diverse in their skills, and it is very important to have all of them on board with the project.
- You need a good mentor to help you get good at managing mega-projects. You can study it and watch videos about it, but it is not until you are on the job that you can get the true experience of working on a mega-project. This is when you need a good mentor to show you the ropes.
- The skills needed to work on a mega-project are:
- You need to be a good listener.
- You need to understand the needs of the client as well as the community.
- You need to be able to communicate on a lot of different levels.
- Change management is one of the most important skills that you need. If you don’t manage change, change will manage you.
Here Are Some of the Project Michael Has Worked on in the Past:
More details in this episode…
About Michael Paddock, PE, PS
Michael Paddock, PE, PS is a licensed civil engineer and surveyor. His professional career was spent managing teams of over 100 engineers designing infrastructure mega-projects over $1 billion for CH2M, and he was the youngest-ever recipient of Wisconsin’s “Engineer of the Year” award. After a near-death cancer experience, he was motivated to begin a pro bono engineering career that has delivered projects with Engineers Without Borders USA and other nonprofits on five continents over the last 20 years.
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Books Mentioned in this Episode:
Please leave your comments or questions in the section below on the Coronavirus and how it is affecting you as a civil engineer.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success