How do we spread peace when solving engineering problems?

How do we spread peace when solving engineering problems?

Amanda Albano, EIT

Amanda Albano, EIT

In the spirit of the season, I thought it would be appropriate to unfold how we, as civil engineers, bring peace to the world. How do we spread peace when solving engineering problems?

Note: I understand my audience. I understand that this is corny. I understand I may receive torment and ridicule. I understand, and I shall continue.

First, it begins in the workplace. Creating a happy, comfortable environment where people feel appreciated is the best way to maximize efficiency and maintain a positive rapport. Key ways to keep peace in the workplace (rumor has it)…

  1. Communicate! (Seems to be the #1 key in life. Snore.)
  2. Be aware of other people’s workload – It’s not just you.
  3. Don’t put your stress on coworkers – don’t bring the vibe of the office down with your problems. Everyone has bad days! Don’t rub your bad day in someone’s face.
  4. Examine your behavior in light of how it affects others (!!! Be self-aware!!!)

Second, peace is fostered between the engineer and the client. Clients come in all different shapes and sizes. Some are knowledgeable, some are knowingly ignorant. Some are heavily involved, some are laissez-faire. Some are optimistic, some are conservative. Needless to say, we always strive to address each client as an individual and cater to the needs and expectations of the client or project. The last thing we, at D.L. Howell, want to do is bring stress and confusion to someone’s life. Our goal with clients is to provide clear communication. All projects have their obstacles and un-forecasted hiccups, but our approach is never to panic. Remain calm, engineer a solution. When we remain calm, our clients remain calm and things tend to work out…weird. Cue the peace.

Finally, the engineers dose their final linage of peace with a product that considers health, safety, and welfare. While we have individual clients with individual goals, we design for the community. The townships make sure of that. The DEP makes sure of that. The EPA makes sure of that. And while we may complain about the regulations bestowed by these government agencies, at the end of the day we are working towards a better quality of life for the public. The foundation of our lives is civil infrastructures: culture, relationships, and a strong economy all grow from a solid civil engineering foundation. So, when you think about it, we’re the instrument by which peace…is created…*mind blown.*

Lastly, I want to remind everyone to keep in perspective our problems as civil engineers in the United States relative to the greater problems of undeveloped countries. We design a lot of pool permit plans and subdivision plans and building additions, but we’re fortunate to have the infrastructure to implement these luxuries. Crazy to think that over the past 100 years, we have designed and constructed the sanitary, water, and roadway infrastructure for the entire population across all 50 states. Seems to take 3 years to fill in a pothole these days, but it only took 35 years to construct 40,000 + miles of roadway, also known as the Interstate Highway System. But I digress. My point is simply that the problems we have today pale in comparison to the problems of the third world or the problems of the civil engineers who came before us. Please remember this next time you’re building a house in “steep slopes” or AutoCAD 2018 surprises you with a “fatal error.”

And lastly lastly, I want to give D.L. Howell a big shout out for making my first job a difficult one to say goodbye to. Denny has fostered a one-of-a-kind work environment that has allowed me to learn entirely too much, while also being me: young, clueless, and enthusiastic. I have been completely myself here – and that’s hard for a lot of employees in the workforce to say. Let alone a woman in engineering.  Speaks volumes. However, I’ve learned so much that I caught learning fever and am fleeing for Texas to pursue my masters. Everyone at D.L. Howell is constantly looking out for what is best for the client, while simultaneously directing us young(er) folk on paths to success. Can’t thank everyone here enough for what they’ve done for me, and if you work with them I’m sure you’ll say the same. I hope you continue to choose D.L. Howell for your engineering support in the new year.

Peace Out! Well wishes to all and to all a good night.

 

Are Colleges Ruining Our Kids?

Are Colleges Ruining Our Kids?

Want my opinion? THEY SURE AS HELL ARE!!!

I’ll be honest, I started to notice this about 10 years ago and I thought it was me (maybe it actually is). We would interview fresh engineering graduates and a vast majority of the interviews were about as invigorating as watching remote control sailboat races. Potential new hires would show up very well dressed and then….nothing. No questions, not very interested or engaging etc. I would always ask about how their job searching was going and usually got the same answer. “Well, I have been on a bunch of interviews, but haven’t heard anything”. NO KIDDING! They all seemed disappointed, almost as if they had just been sent to the corner. We managed to shortlist some candidates and even hired a few, but they not only didn’t last long, they also never really embraced their new “career”. I was puzzled. I remember my senior year in college and all I wanted to do was get out of Drexel and start making some money. Now, I have had a few colleagues utter to me “young people are lazy, they don’t want to work”. On the surface, it may appear that way, but inside I kept saying to myself that they can’t all just be lazy. I mean, a 4 to 5 year degree is usually undertaken with the hopes of graduating, getting a job and making some good money. And while money isn’t the biggest motivator, to a college student that has lived in a block wall dorm and eaten cafeteria food for 5 years, money is a path to a better life. A new car, maybe an apartment, dining out, entertainment. Hell, in 1993 when I graduated from college, being able to have dinner (and sometimes lunch) at Applebees or Chi Chi’s was awesome. I felt like an executive. Nonetheless, I spent the last 5 years or so just complaining about this to colleagues and frankly anyone who was willing to listen to me. As I aged, I could hear myself and I sounded like a grouchy old man or woman or genderless person or gender bender (yeah, look it up)…nevermind. Now fast forward to the present and I am taking my son on college tours. Each college tour/presentation was catered to a major (in his case civil engineering) and was given by a very enthusiastic upper class “person” that attended that college. I would estimate that about 5 mins LITERALLY was spent on talking about the academic program and about 3 hours and 55 minutes spent on talking about the on-campus ski resort (Michigan Tech University), personal dairy bar (South Dakota State), lazy river beach club (University of Missouri), lobster dinner, err’day (Virginia Tech) or luxury “condo” dorms (virtually freaking everywhere). This, of course, is all in addition to the on-campus Chik-Fil-a, Chipotle, Insomnia Cookies, Indoor Rock Climbing Walls, skydiving club, Wizards and Muggles Club (William and Mary) and Clown Nose Club (NC State) to name just a few. When you are bored, google “The 25 Most Amazing Campus Student Unions”. It is ridiculous. It is no wonder that it seems as though a vast majority of recent graduates don’t want to work. Work and a career are now a step DOWN in lifestyle from college. In fact work sucks compared to college. I can’t say I blame them. Let’s compare. College luxury dorm vs. parents house vs. paying rent. College luxury dorm all the way. Requesting a vacation day to go rock climbing at a facility that costs about 60 bucks vs. walking a block after class with your buds and spending the afternoon on the campus rock climbing wall for “free” then topping it off with a custom smoothie from the on-campus dairy bar. DUH!!! But, we cannot blame this all on the colleges, I mean, they could never afford all of these upgrades if the Federal Government didn’t hand out student loans left and right by just providing a signature to every single high school graduate they could. I guess I am just jealous that one cannot get loans to pay for engineering bills as easily as they can to pay tuition at a college with a lazy river lagoon and on-campus ski resort. But hey, rest assured, if that does happen, it will be free Starbucks and all the rock climbing wall time you can handle here at DL Howell.