Celebrating Engineers Week 2024

This week, the nation celebrates Engineers Week and recognizes the difference that engineers make in our world. In honor of the event, we asked our engineers to share why they became an engineer, how to encourage the next generation of engineers, and what the future holds.

We started by exploring what leads people to choose the engineering field as a profession. Having an interest in structures and how things are built seems to be one hallmark of future engineers. Applying math and science to create new infrastructure was another popular response.

MT Chaudhry, EBA’s vice president for structural engineering, recalled watching weaving interchanges and suspension bridges with awe as a child, wondering who built them and how.

“The spiraling multilevel interchanges fascinated me, especially how everyone kept driving without stopping for the vehicles coming from other directions,” said MT. “It was then that I decided to design these fascinating structures and make meaningful contributions along the way.”

Joel Resh, EBA’s transportation engineering department manager, said that summer work for a local contractor sparked his desire to pursue a civil engineering degree. After learning how to read blueprints, he discovered the fun of watching those designs come to life during construction.

“Collaboratively working with other experts toward a common goal, and then seeing that goal be realized to benefit local communities—that’s what I enjoy the most about being an engineer,” said Joel.

Project manager Jeff Lee chose engineering over other disciplines because of his strong math and science skills, along with the prospect of obtaining a well-paying job after earning his bachelor’s degree.

He now appreciates the diverse knowledge he has gained while perform calculations and applying math and science to solve real-world problems. He even applies the practical knowledge of the profession to his hobby of working on cars and motorcycles.

When we asked what our engineers can do now to help encourage and engage the next generation of engineers, the answers centered on helping students understand the importance and value of the profession.

Joel urges fellow engineers to participate in career fairs, outreach events, and other educational activities at local schools, universities, and community centers. He also asks them to talk with the younger generation as early as possible. “Gaining young peoples’ interest in the engineering field, even at the elementary level, can have long-lasting benefits for both the students and the industry,” said Joel.

Jeff also advocates teaching the next generation about the field and the need for competent, knowledgeable, technically and ethically sound, and caring engineers to solve future challenges.

What will be the biggest challenges for engineers in the future? Nearly all our engineers indicated that keeping up with new technology and navigating the latest “trends” in the field will present both challenges and opportunities.

Jeff pointed to the challenge of replacing our nation’s aging infrastructure cost effectively and at a faster rate than it is deteriorating. He also noted that advances in artificial intelligence capabilities, machine learning, GIS, and unmanned aerial vehicles pose both big challenges and opportunities and will require engineers to become well-versed in these technologies.

Joel discussed how the rise in virtual/remote working has created opportunities for the industry to reach a much wider candidate pool and foster a more diverse workforce. “This also presents challenges, however, to help engineers hone social skills and foster active involvement with professional organizations that help lead the industry in the right direction,” said Joel.

We also asked our engineers about their favorite project experiences, and complexity proved to be a common theme! MT’s favorite project was the I-10/SR 601/Canal Road Interchange project in Harrison County, Mississippi. The largest interchange in the state—and one of the largest in the Southeast—this complex fully directional, 4-level interchange includes 20 bridges.

Though it was an unusual project, Jeff enjoyed the challenge of modeling odor coming from large sewer dropshafts at a military base. The team’s solution involved using storm data, wind direction, and air dispersion models to create reach.

Overall, one of the biggest takeaways is that engineers make a difference in their communities by developing innovative solutions to global challenges to benefit future generations.

“Many of the modern comforts we take for granted stem from the hard work of engineers,” said Jeff. “From electricity to clean water, safe cars, and appliances, engineers make our lives more efficient, comfortable, and connected.”

MT added that engineers are making the best use of materials to construct the most efficient, functional, and attractive structures. For example, engineers are proactively working to increase the service life of bridges while minimizing maintenance requirements.

Thank you to our engineers and engineering staff for making your commitment count by helping to build a better world with a better quality of life for all!

Contributors: MT Chaudhry, PE; Jeff Lee, PE; and Joel Resh, PE


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