I wouldn't trade my engineering background for anything. I am considering a career change to a non-engineering field and, whether or not I end up doing it, I see the value of thinking through any situation like an engineer."
What types of work have you performed? What projects have you worked on?
Bridge design engineer working on bridge projects in the State of New York including both vehicular and pedestrian bridges made of steel and concrete. I have been involved in all aspects of the bridge design including utility coordination, geometric layout, report writing and helping decide whether rehabilitation or replacement are warranted, cost estimates, and final design of all components (piles, substructures, bearings, girders, deck, wingwalls, etc.). Projects have included both locally funded and federally funded projects and some have been historical bridges.
What have been some favorite aspects of your work?
The coolest part is getting through a final design, getting the plans and specs out to bid, and then seeing the bridge that I designed being built. Seeing the final product and watching people drive over my bridges is so cool.
What was one of your most satisfying days as an engineer?
When a large project (3-span, 360 foot long pedestrian bridge along a trail in Ulster County) went out to bid. I started working on this project right after graduation and worked on it for about two years. It was a really challenging and complex project and the project is finally getting out and will be built. There were many hours and many hiccups on this project and it felt great to finish it and get it out there.
Was it worth it? What has your engineering background made possible for you? What value has it added to your overall life?
I wouldn't trade my engineering background for anything. I am considering a career change to a non-engineering field and, whether or not I end up doing it, I see the value of thinking through any situation like an engineer. I feel that I am able to assess and analyze a situation without over analyzing and then make a decision on how to proceed. Life is filled with problems and obstacles that need to be overcome. These obstacles vary greatly in their weight from small daily obstacles to larger, more time consuming obstacles. My engineering background has taught me to approach each problem with a plan to take steps to overcome them. I feel that my engineering background has improved my confidence in social and professional settings and set me up with the leadership skills to succeed. One cool thing that my engineering background has allowed me to create is a podcast (To Summit Up Podcast), blog and soon to be online merchandise store. I had no idea how to create a website or edit audio or photos and I have been working on building and growing each of these things. My engineering background has structured my mind to realize and then solve each problem as it arises and to look at what I am doing both holistically and in detail at each stage. Engineering background = unparalleled value and applicability to any and every area in my life.
What would you say to the first-year students currently sitting in your shoes?
I remember sitting in small groups and thinking about what I would have been doing if I didn't show up each week. My time spent studying and understanding the material would have severely decreased and my educational performance would have likely spiraled backwards. The accountability factor coupled with the value that small group tutoring has on retention and understanding of material is what small groups is all about. I also found that I became friends with many of my fellow small groups participants as well as my small groups leaders. I also remember sitting in EAS 140 and forming my team for the windmill project. Our team was extremely diverse in our educational backgrounds, social confidence, and learning styles. It was difficult at first to get everyone on the same page and time spent in EAS 140 became super important in my development in recognizing team members' strengths and weaknesses and helping each member get to a point of maximum contribution. I learned a lot about my own strengths and weaknesses in a team setting and was able to work on both by being immersed in each project. Throughout college and beyond, it has been completely the case that you will have to work on teams with people that you may not agree with. You will have to work with people who you don't mesh with. Understanding how to overcome this and to succeed in accomplishing the task at hand is something that EAS 140 taught me right from the beginning.