Professional and Career Topics

  • 1.  Are you heard?

    Posted 10-26-2022 10:07 AM

    Do your co-workers hear you? If they hear, do they listen and consider your ideas? How about your supervisor?

    Some of us hesitate to speak up. If we do speak, who listens? If being heard is an issue for you, how do you handle those situations?



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    William McAnally Ph.D., P.E., D.CE, D.NE, F.ASCE
    ENGINEER
    Columbus MS
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  • 2.  RE: Are you heard?

    Posted 10-26-2022 04:48 PM
    Professionally, I typically felt unheard in those emergency or urgent situations or the pre-urgent situations with co-workers (and management) with whom I did not normally work with. I believe entirely due to different areas of expertise relative to the design, analysis or construction process. It is great when your supervisor or group lead is the barrier between you and others outside the group or department; it is extremely challenging when they are not advocating for you.

    "How soon can you get this done?"
    The funniest situations (or other f-word being frustrating) being the "How soon can you get this done?". You provide the most optimistic (all things go perfect) and the most pessimistic (chasing stresses, on the fly revisions by others, etc.). They come back an hour later with a counter that is sooner than the most optimistic. [Note: I always question why they even asked!] Then I have to provide the justification for extending the ECD and explanation for missing the deadline. X number of load cases. Need to time to review and actually examine the results.

    "Repeat and repeat often"
         Once I spent months in prep meetings stating "For the record, I'm not a mechanical engineer.". If you have ever had a mechanical designer create a model, you know that they model down to the screw. The project manager (that selected me to perform the analysis) refused to accept my estimation of hours due to his understanding that I could simply transfer a model and run analyses. I explained that structure and mechanical systems are different.
         The language used was foreign to me. I was unsure of the guidance, specifications and code checks. No matter my explanation as to the differences and my unfamiliarity, the PM repeatedly stated "Oh, you can do it!". [Note: Did not need a pep talk. I needed them to understand that building, working with & animating models was different from what is analyzed, how elements are analyzed and the best tools for analysis.]
         Finally, as we approach the date for me to start, the mechanical designer throws up this complex solid model that includes moving pieces, rolling stuff, and all the elements that make the model a work of art. I state "For the record, I'm not a mechanical engineer. As a structural engineer, I would throw out 98.5% of that model to create the model I would need for my typical analysis." To which, the mechanical designer agreed. The PM, I just thought you simply transferred and used his model.

    I do not know of too many projects in design where being quiet is an option when it comes to safety and public welfare, co-workers or supporting equipment. I have sat quietly in meetings when new to a project. I will ask a team member during the meeting, meeting break or after. Until I know otherwise, I believe there are subject-matter-experts present or supporting.

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    James Williams P.E., M.ASCE
    Principal/Owner
    POA&M Structural Engineering, PLC
    Yorktown, VA
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  • 3.  RE: Are you heard?

    Posted 10-28-2022 07:59 AM
    Hi Bill, James.
    And thanks James for the details.

    • Root Cause of Your Post Bill, (and James provides credible details):

    ABET's Engineering education quite dated requirements continue to hold back education courses to educate engineers how to
    communicate, cooperate, and coordinate with others. And of course, that translates into the growing business of
    "Conflict Resolution."

    Their attempt to argue "Well, we do team projects in some classes" are exercises in futility.

    So here we are, year 2023, and still clinging to the rich traditions of the past.
    This, despite clear evidence that no less than 65% of projects that fail do so due to the very lack of those uneducated skills.

    Q. Evolution or Revolution?

    Cheers,
    Bill




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    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
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  • 4.  RE: Are you heard?

    Posted 28 days ago
    I have a friend that served in the Navy. He says that a large percentage of the time is spent training and drilling on emergency procedures and safety protocols.

    He shared with me his experience on a night when two ships collided. At the time, they were clueless as to the cause, there was the bang and then fire in the middle of the night out at sea. Thick smoke and light from a fire.

    [Note: My recall is sketchy these days.] He says he started to follow emergency procedures (i.e., retrieve safety gear. go to his designated station, etc.) but they were directed straight to the source of the fire. Despite the training, some individuals panicked (he recalled yelling & screaming); ignored safety protocols and simply looked to escape the danger. Of course, my question was "What happened with all the training?"

    In my opinion, the student's education has always served as the foundation upon which a company builds the "company's engineer". As a young engineer entering the professional world, I was still in self-discovery mode as I entered the adult world living away from home. For a self-proclaimed nerd like me, there were so many learning and experience curves to climb.

    An introduction would be a definite plus. It would minimize the adversity. I would love to hear what those college graduates in the various decades thinks. I an 80s undergrad.

    [Note: I am working on being succinct.]

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