Discussion Thread

  • 1.  Questions for a Civil Engineer for a Career Exploration Report

    Posted 01-16-2022 08:59 PM

    Hello,

    I am a civil engineering student at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. I am taking a business communication course and am writing a career exploration report and I would like to include information from career civil engineers. If anyone would be willing to answer some or all of the following questions about the industry I'd really appreciate it.

    Thank you in advance...

    Can you tell me a little about yourself, such as your title and the number of years you've been a civil engineer?

    What are the various levels of engineers at your firm?

    How does a civil engineering job change with experience?

    What are the various types of civil engineers at your firm and the approximate number of them? I would like to include a distribution chart in my report.

    What types of certification are required to become a civil engineer?

    Do most civil engineers at your firm have bachelor's degrees or master's degrees?

    What types of projects does your firm participate in (e.g. construction, structural, transportation, geotechnical, urban development, water resources, etc.)?

    What does a typical day for a civil engineer look like?

    What software does a civil engineer use?

    How much of your time is spent in the office and how much is spent at a project site?

    Does your firm have both private and public sector projects? What is the percentage of each?

    How much do environmental concerns influence projects?

    Do you think the latest infrastructure initiatives will be beneficial for civil engineers?



    ------------------------------
    Hagen Schwark S.M.ASCE
    Student
    Rochester Hls MI
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Questions for a Civil Engineer for a Career Exploration Report

    Posted 01-18-2022 07:59 AM

    Can you tell me a little about yourself, such as your title and the number of years you've been a civil engineer?
    J. M. Williams, P.E., Owner/Principal Engineer
    Over 32 years in the business. Of course, that does not include the co-operative education program at my university.

    What are the various levels of engineers at your firm?

    I am self-employed and the only employee at my company. There are only two-levels.
    For the largest company I worked for, there were at least five (5) levels on the technical side. Of course, there is a point where one has to make the decision between technical and management. 

    How does a civil engineering job change with experience?

    With experience comes the optimization of the various phases of a job. In a consulting firm, you minimize those non-billable hours and maximize productivity. Experience tends to bring more responsible and certain levels of independence. At a certain stage, management and your peers may view you as a source of information or expert based on that experience. 

    What are the various types of civil engineers at your firm and the approximate number of them? I would like to include a distribution chart in my report.
    At my company, there are only structural engineers. At the maximum, there was two (2).
    At my largest employer (Newport News Shipbuilding aka Huntington Ingalls), there were a variety of positions occupied by civil engineers on both the design side and construction side. From the company side, it ranged from management to facilities had civil engineers.
    When I worked with Collins Engineers years ago, there were seven (7) civil engineers in the local office. I believe most were structural. My time there was limited.

    What types of certification are required to become a civil engineer?
    Unless things have changed, a degree from an accredited program is all that is required. The E.I.T. and P.E. license are recommended when it comes to expanding opportunities in the field. Some industries and companies, like Newport News Shipbuilding, are exempt from the P.E. staffing requirements.

    Do most civil engineers at your firm have bachelor's degrees or master's degrees?
    While I had one, I never knew which individuals had advance degrees when I worked with other companies. Unless someone mentioned it, it is information that the supervisor or management would have. After a while, you knew which individuals where the most knowledgeable on a subject matter. Degrees are an indicator of a basic comprehension or focused comprehension when it comes to advanced degrees.   

    What types of projects does your firm participate in (e.g. construction, structural, transportation, geotechnical, urban development, water resources, etc.)?
    As a structural engineering consultant, my firm participates or has participated in practically all aspects. From permanent structures to temporary support structures and fixtures. When it comes to foundations, there is a bit of an overlap between geotechnical and structural engineers. 

    What does a typical day for a civil engineer look like?
    As a consultant, paperwork/email, reports, research, specification and code reviews, estimates, agreements, and phone calls with a little bit of field work thrown in once or twice a week. 

    What software does a civil engineer use?
    Word processing, project management, structural modeling & analysis software, MathCAD, 2-D & 3-D CAD or Solid Modeling software, spreadsheets, presentations, accounting software, and tool specific software (i.e., measurement, images and videos). 

    How much of your time is spent in the office and how much is spent at a project site?
    80% of the time is spent in the office and 20% on a project site depending on responsibilities and project phase.

    Does your firm have both private and public sector projects? What is the percentage of each?
    We handle both private and public sector projects. As a small consulting firm, over the past two (2) years, our projects have been 100% are private. 

    How much do environmental concerns influence projects?
    Environmental concerns are built into most code requirements and/or specifications. However, for my small firm, it is rarely an issue due to the limited scope of work. For other companies involved in all aspects of a project from cradle-to-grave, environmental issues remain one of the largest concerns due to the risks to both the environmental and public safety. 

    Do you think the latest infrastructure initiatives will be beneficial for civil engineers?
    Absolutely. As the focus and funds shift to these areas, there will be an increase in demand. The challenge is availability and quality service.

    Given my age, experiences and company size these answers are probably not the best for sampling. With the exception of Collins Engineers, my employers are not the typical when you think civil engineers. There are a lot of questions here. In my opinion, these would be better in small bites. Hopefully these help.



    ------------------------------
    James Williams P.E., M.ASCE
    Principal/Owner
    POA&M Structural Engineering, PLC
    Yorktown, VA
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: Questions for a Civil Engineer for a Career Exploration Report

    Posted 01-18-2022 09:02 AM
    Thank you so much for your reply James, I really appreciate it. Your responses will be very helpful in constructing my exploration report.

    Hagen

    ------------------------------
    Hagen Schwark S.M.ASCE
    Student
    Rochester Hls MI
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Questions for a Civil Engineer for a Career Exploration Report

    Posted 01-31-2022 08:00 PM

    Hi Hagen,

    Not sure if your report is ongoing, my apologies if this is too late for you to use.

    Can you tell me a little about yourself, such as your title and the number of years you've been a civil engineer?
    Water Resources Engineer I, have been working 1 year

    What are the various levels of engineers at your firm?
    Engineer I through V

    How does a civil engineering job change with experience?
    I'm still a junior engineer so I do a lot of drafting and simple calculations. I expect that throughout the years I will do more design/calculations on my own, take on more leadership/management aspects of projects, and perhaps manage other engineers.

    What are the various types of civil engineers at your firm and the approximate number of them? I would like to include a distribution chart in my report.
    We are specifically an environmental firm, and we have lots of environmental professionals who are not engineers. All the engineers at the firm (approx. 20) are water resources engineers.

    What types of certification are required to become a civil engineer?

    • ABET accredited degree
    • Pass the Fundamentals of Engineering exam (EIT/Engineer in Training certification)
    • Depending on the state in which you want to practice, you may need to acquire a set number of years of experience doing relevant work under a licensed PE. 3-4 years is common but some states are doing away with this requirement.
    • Pass the PE (Professional Engineer) exam in order to become a licensed PE
    Do most civil engineers at your firm have bachelor's degrees or master's degrees?

    It's approximately 50-50.

    What types of projects does your firm participate in (e.g. construction, structural, transportation, geotechnical, urban development, water resources, etc.)?
    Water resources, coastal resiliency, natural resources, sustainable infrastructure, environmental permitting. Often we do one branch of a larger construction project, for example drainage design or erosion & sediment control that must be coordinated with other engineers designing the structural, civil, etc. components of the project.

    What does a typical day for a civil engineer look like?
    Definitely depends on the engineer's level of seniority and the projects they are working on. My typical day includes some drafting in CAD, internal coordination with team members but usually not much coordination with clients, and may include calculations or report editing as well.

    What software does a civil engineer use?
    So far I have used Microstation (so much Microstation!), AutoCAD, ProjectWise (file management), ArcMap, Excel (lots of spreadsheets), HEC-RAS, TR-20 and TR-55.

    How much of your time is spent in the office and how much is spent at a project site?
    I currently work remotely in a different state from the office/most of the projects, so although there are field work opportunities I am generally not considered for them/would decline if they were offered because I am not local. Therefore I am 100% virtual office and 0% on site.

    Does your firm have both private and public sector projects? What is the percentage of each?
    Yes, but the majority are public sector. I don't know the breakdown, but I'd estimate 80-90% of our clients are public sector.

    How much do environmental concerns influence projects?
    A lot - that's where our work comes from!

    Do you think the latest infrastructure initiatives will be beneficial for civil engineers?
    Yes - more funding to improve the country's infrastructure will be distributed through many avenues (federal funding can trickle down to state and local government funding and/or to grant opportunities) and will translate to more projects.



    ------------------------------
    Kathryn Little, EIT, A.M.ASCE (she/her)
    Water Resources Engineer
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Questions for a Civil Engineer for a Career Exploration Report

    Posted 01-31-2022 08:43 PM
    I am still writing the report, so many thanks for your response Kathryn. I really appreciate it.

    ------------------------------
    Hagen Schwark S.M.ASCE
    Student
    Rochester Hls MI
    ------------------------------