In celebration of Engineer’s Week, some of our staff explain why they chose to become engineers:
“I’d always been fascinated by ‘big’ construction! As a kid we would take drives along the county roads near where we lived in rural Central Oklahoma. I particularly enjoyed driving across the big rickety steel truss bridges. I’ve forgotten the names of specific places or creeks, but I was always amazed at how something as impassable as a creek (a river to my small perception) could be defeated, and our journey could continue uninterrupted. I’d never stopped to consider how the bridge got there in the first place or how much time and effort went into making sure that we could travel to the places we needed to go. After graduation I was decidedly undecided about what career I wanted to pursue out of High School. I was leaving in a few months to serve a foreign mission for my church, and so I had a few years before I really had to decide what I wanted to study in college. I was always a quick learner, but my interests in High School were very fickle. I played with the idea of being everything from a Psychologist to a Park Ranger. The many ‘career path assessment’ tests we took in High School weren’t any help either; they always seemed to recommend something different every time I took one. I spent two years living and working in Honduras, and my eyes were opened to the many problems faced by third world countries and the many things that I’d taken for granted here in the States: clean water, a dependable power source, environmentally controlled buildings, and a functional (if aging) infrastructure. Living conditions were deplorable; people lived everyday in what I would have imaged a disaster to look like. I’d decided that I wanted to work in a profession that strived towards improving the world around us. Once I returned, I researched professions dealing with water treatment, infrastructure design and construction, structural (bridge) design, urban development, and flooding. It was a big surprise to find out that all of those subjects were found in one profession! The biggest joy I get from Civil Engineering is that it allows me to take part in a profession that strives to leave the world a little better and safer for those who may be following. “
Pete Ellis, EI
“Why I wanted to be an engineer? I didn’t. Not at first. I started out wanting to be an architect of all things. There, I admit it. And I’m not ashamed. Well, maybe a little. But back in those days, most engineers had black rimmed glasses, buzzed haircuts, white shirts and thin black ties. And most always had a pocket protector in their shirt pocket with several pens and pencils in it. And sometimes one behind their ear. (Some things never change.) Architects had longer hair, sideburns and some even had mustaches and beards. And most didn’t wear ties, but when they did, they were a paisley print and matched or coordinated with the colored dress shirt they wore.
When did I decide to be an architect? Ninth grade drafting class. (Mr. Andrews) They called it mechanical drawing back then and I was afraid I would be drawing tent pegs and gears for the rest of my life. Subsequent classes exposed me to a variety of things that needed to be drawn, sketched and thoroughly thought out (designed) before they could be constructed.
But early on in my dealings with both architects and engineers, I always had that nagging question.”But how does it work?” Most architects I worked with had the same answer. “That’s the engineer’s job.” Ah! So that’s what I really wanted to do.
Why Civil Engineering? Well, I had the opportunity to work in construction engineering while in the Navy and was exposed to just about every aspect of the discipline. Surveying, soils and material testing, construction observation, planning and scheduling, and yes, more drafting on into designing. The path was pretty much set after that. I became enchanted with the world we live in and knew that safe infrastructure such as roads, bridges, waterways, utilities, and other such things were what was important to sustaining life.
It’s been a great and rewarding career. One I’m very proud to be a part of.”