Discussion Thread

  • 1.  Project Perspectives

    Posted 08-30-2022 12:49 PM
    When we design projects, we need to "put on different hats" and look at the design from multiple perspectives.

    I'm interested to hear more about what those "hats" are for different kinds of civil engineering sectors/projects. Any stories/examples of when these types of checks were (or would have been) helpful would be awesome as well!

     As someone in site development civil engineering, below are a few of the hats I wear throughout the design process:
    • civil engineer perspective: what do we need to do to meet our internal design criteria and those of any authority having jurisdiction?
    • project team perspective: how do my design choices impact the other disciplines? (structural, MEP, architecture)
      • example: our ideal grading plan would mean that stem walls would be needed on the structural/arch design
    • owner perspective: how will the design choices meet the specific needs/preferences of the owner?
      • example: the owner wants to apply for a green building certification which limits our design options for stormwater management
    • end-user perspective: how will the design function for the users (including those with accessibility challenges)?
      • example: the project is an elementary school, so hand rails on exterior ramps and stairs should also accommodate shorter users
    • contractor perspective: how does my design impact construction timelines/budgets and constructability?
      • example: we have 2 options for pipe material for a utility, and one currently has a procurement time that would delay the project critical path

    Heidi C. Wallace, P.E., M.ASCE
    Tulsa, OK

  • 2.  RE: Project Perspectives

    Posted 08-31-2022 01:52 PM
    Hi Heidi, great initiative identifying challenges before they arrive.

    In that vein, wonder if younger engineers, women and men, have yet realized that  
    one critical part of their formal engineering education excluded soft skills.

    The very challenges you list above as well as others require the knowledge and skills
    to collaborate, cooperate and communicate, i.e., "How to play nice with others?"

    Yet most literature goes right to the subject, in the the absence of these skills: Conflict.

    Some suggestions going forward may include:
    a. Differences between hearing and listening.

    b. Suspending defense of your discipline's work to first understand what
    challenges another discipline faced.

    c. Making your first response to a challenge "That's an interesting point, tell me more."

    d. Speaking truth to power.

    For now, I'll stop and wait to learn your thoughts on this direction.

    William M. Hayden Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CMQ/OE, F.ASCE
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    "It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot 1819 - 1880

  • 3.  RE: Project Perspectives

    Posted 09-07-2022 10:25 PM
    You wear a lot of cool hats Heidi! 

    Recently in my own work, I find myself focusing most on applying team hours effectively, in order to make sure that the different projects we're working on are finished by their respective due dates. This also comes with having to become a bean counter with respect to budget.

    When working on a certain project, I forget about the high level for a time and focus on the details.

    At the end, I focus on the higher level again to determine if we have successfully "answered the question" of the task or if the analysis we have completed doesn't really provide an answer to what the client is looking for. 

    It sounds like many of our hats overlap at this point in our respective careers!

    Christopher Seigel P.E., M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer