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Career/Knowledge Advancement Advice

Career/Knowledge Advancement Advice

Career/Knowledge Advancement Advice

I am a fairly new EIT, I am wanting to pursue a career in structures. I have been working at a design build firm for a little over a year. I am looking for any tips that people have on the best ways to increase your knowledge base, and advance your career. Any helpful stories, tips, or hints are welcome. Any good books for knowledge advancement and to add to my bookshelf(academical or theoretical books)? Thanks in advance!!

RE: Career/Knowledge Advancement Advice

I'm not a Structural Engineer, I defer the technical advice for that to the real engineers here. wink

One of the things I did as a young engineer was get involved with a couple of professional societies. It started out by simply attending local meetings and getting the feel of the culture therein. But it progressed to becoming active in the Chapter leadership over time. The benefits were:
  • networking, meeting people who became friends, colleagues, door-openers
  • free or low-cost, low-effort, low-penalty training in group management and leadership skills
  • exposure to other technologies, attitudes, and methods/techniques that helped expand and round out my personal skill set
I think it served me well over the years.

Blue Technik LLC
Virtuoso Robotics Engineering

RE: Career/Knowledge Advancement Advice

Your own company's employee policy is important.

I, myself, was misfortunate enough to land in a company that had as a policy to look for and support the 'number ones'.

Nothing wrong with that, if you at the same time works for and share internal knowledge with all, and want to make the whole staff and company best together. The company did not.

I survived, but, in the long run, not the company.

RE: Career/Knowledge Advancement Advice

Indiana Engineer,

I have been in the same situation so I will share with you how I was able learn from whatever is around me and I am still learning.

As an engineer, you should be very detail oriented. What I mean by that is keep digging into stuff deeper and deeper. Understand the purpose and reason of all the procedures, processes and methods in your current job deeply. Then ask yourself, what can be improved and then improve it. There are always things that can be improved.

The way I see it is you already have so much to dig into and you are looking for more. Your real job is to apply the technical theories and principles you studied in school. It is your job to find what you can apply and where. All you have to do is “pay attention to small details” and you will find things to learn. Keep your brain active at all times.

Good luck!

RE: Career/Knowledge Advancement Advice

Good advice so far, as usual.

What sort of structural career do you want? You say you work at a design build firm - is it a designer led design build firm or a builder led design build firm? In other words, do you work in an office of design engineers with a construction manager who hires the subs, oversees the build, etc., or do you work for a contractor that hires designers and then builds their design? There are pros and cons to both. If designer led, you're going to get exposure to and experience in design and analysis methods. This will be helpful if you take the SE or Civil/Structural PE. You'll exposure to construction, too, but it will be limited to what your firm builds, which may narrow your view on what can be done and how it can be done - I've learned quite a bit from exposure to multiple builders. If builder led, you're going to get in depth knowledge of how a building is actually put together. This will be good if you want to be a contractor (lots of good engineers have made great contractors), and can set you up to the Civil/Construction PE exam. In either case, the design build environment will help you learn to design economically. A lot of firms that work in the design-bid-build space tend to be more conservative. There's a lot of reasons for this, and many of them quite valid, but most of them go away in design-build which gives you a chance to better understand structural efficiency. Either of these are good choices, but it depends on what you want out of your career. It's not impossible to change later, but it gets harder every year that goes by.

RE: Career/Knowledge Advancement Advice

Thank you all so much for the great advice. It is always interesting to hear from other people and some of the things they have done that have helped them or what they would do differently.

The company I currently work for is a builder led design build firm. I am currently only the second engineer employed here which has its positives and negatives. I have gotten to know the engineer that I work under very well and he is a really nice guy and he is very good at what he does. And I also get to work on almost every project we do. One of the negatives is that I have definitely been exposed more to the construction side of things than to the engineering side.

Thanks for those links I will definitely look into them.

RE: Career/Knowledge Advancement Advice

Think carefully about your statement "One of the negatives is that I have definitely been exposed more to the construction side of things than to the engineering side." If that's really how you feel, you may want to look elsewhere for a job. With only one mentor, your learning will be limited to what he can teach you and what you can figure out for yourself. On top of that, it sounds like you're more interested in design and analysis than in construction engineering.

If you haven't already, look into the requirements for getting your PE. You'll need a minimum of 3 professional engineers to act as references to take your test - some states require more, I'm not sure about Indiana. In your current position, will you develop the requisite relationships with other engineers to get those letters?

When I say think carefully, I mean it. If you've never done analysis and design professionally, don't fall for the grass is always greener trick. It can be downright boring at times. Other times it can be quite interesting. If you're looking at existing buildings it can be tangible, but new construction is typically pretty abstract. Designs may go years before there's something to look at. Some people struggle with that. Revit and other 3D modeling tools can help there, but I find it helpful to be able to visualize things without the aide of a computer - especially when talking to a client about a project over lunch.

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