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  • 1.  Career Change Late in Life

    Posted 10-11-2021 12:42 PM

    I returned to school late in life to obtain a degree in Architectural Engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Unlike other Architectural Engineering programs, this one has a singular focus on the structural engineering of people-occupied structures.

    A combination of family challenges, poor grades, and economic recession (2008) converged, and I never got the opportunity to work in the structural engineering field. The great advantage of engineering education is an acquired ability to learn and apply knowledge in other areas such as sustainability and energy efficiency, which I've been for the past 12 years. Even though I am at the age where many engineers consider hanging up their hard hats, I realize that's not me. I want a chance to practice my first love – structural engineering.

    I would appreciate suggestions that would help me make this goal a reality. Thank you for your guidance.

    Valerie Gilbert EI, EIT, A.M.ASCE
    Columbus OH

  • 2.  RE: Career Change Late in Life

    Posted 10-13-2021 07:56 AM
    Hi Ms. Gilbert,

    There's a program called "Career Reboot Program" by CDM Smith. You can find it on their company page or here:


    Oanh "Wan" Le, A.M.ASCE (She/Her)
    Rochdale, MA

  • 3.  RE: Career Change Late in Life

    Posted 10-14-2021 10:27 AM
    Hello Ms. Le,

    Thank you for your suggestion. I didn't know this existed and will see if similar programs exist elsewhere.

    Valerie Gilbert EI, EIT, A.M.ASCE
    Columbus OH

  • 4.  RE: Career Change Late in Life

    Posted 10-20-2021 05:23 PM
    Great. I hope I was able to help.


    Oanh "Wan" Le, A.M.ASCE (She/Her)
    Rochdale, MA

  • 5.  RE: Career Change Late in Life

    Posted 10-22-2021 05:30 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 10-22-2021 05:34 PM

    Some places to consider re-engineering your career:

    • SEI members are changing the world![1] We are 30,000 members strong working to improve every aspect of the structural engineering profession.  If you are passionate about structural engineering, you have found your home. All are welcome to our SEI community.

    ·       SEI - Structural Engineering Institute[2]

    Go to Linked-in.


    ·       Discover Institution of Structural Engineers[3] activity near you.

    The Institution has tens of thousands of members around the world, working in over 100 countries.



    ·       Guest Blog Post: CASE Develops Vision for the Future of Structural Engineering in Collaboration with other National Structural Engineering Organizations[4]

    Consider going on a "Seek and Discernment Journey" as you evaluate choices. Each of the above have women and men who would just be delighted to be part of your search. It's your initiative and choices that will make that happen.

    "People don't fail, their experiments do.

    If you're not failing, you're not trying hard enough."

    Cheers,  Bill

    p.s. Persist.

    [1] https://www.asce.org/communities/institutes-and-technical-groups/structural-engineering-institute

    [2] https://www.linkedin.com/showcase/structuralengineeringinstitute/

    [3] https://www.istructe.org/get-involved/regional-groups/

    [4] https://www.acec.org/last-word-blog/guest-blog-post-case-develops-vision-for-the-future-of-structural-engineering-in-collaboration-with-other-national-structural-engineering-organizations/

    [5] http://www.essentiallifeskills.net/persistence-perseverance.html

    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

  • 6.  RE: Career Change Late in Life

    Posted 10-18-2021 10:22 AM
    You are in luck, Ohio is one of the states that charges a minimal renewal fee for PE registration, yet provides all of the same functions of most state boards in fairly populous states. The mid west also puts you in good proximity to a lot of the market.

    I am full retirement age but put off retirement, even after being semi-retired for 6 months, simply because I wanted to build a house (of my own design) and not have to scrape to get it done. Getting hired, direct or on contract, gets easier once you get that PE or SE or have even passed the exam. I took advantage of reciprocity registration early on since the firm I worked for at the time marketed truss manufacturing machinery and connector plates all over the US and had to provide engineering services to gain clients. Not the most ideal structural job, but it got me through initial registration and adding as many other states as the management felt they could afford. As I tell students, no experience is bad experience, you did something that people needed and it added to your potential. My point is make a list of everything you need to do to get the license and get 'er done. Having that established standing as a registered professional is what all manner of firms and government entities need. Since you have an EIT, you are already on the way. The prospect of an 8 hour exam may not be fun, but the mature brain has certain advantages with these things even if takes a little aspirin afterward. Get the study guides, tell the family this is where your headed, and plan accordingly.

    Good luck, keep us posted.

    William Bala P.E., S.E., M.ASCE
    Hawkins TX

  • 7.  RE: Career Change Late in Life

    Posted 10-22-2021 01:33 PM
    As a student I also wish if I could get the degree of architectural engineering, and what it's like to be? Thank you for sharing your interest with us.

    Llala Chrishaye Ocampo S.M.ASCE
    City of General Trias Cavite