Professional and Career Topics

  • 1.  Mentoring

    Posted 08-31-2018 01:06 PM
    I have had a number of good mentors in my long career.  My most important was Dr. Ed Singley, Professor of Water Treatment at the University of Florida, and long time consultant. Ed, who passed two years ago at age 90, was one of the most knowledgeable scientists in coagulation and lime softening. Besides all the technical knowledge he imparted to me, the most important lesson I ever learned from him was, "In solving problems for clients, put yourself in your clients shoes and understand all of his/her challenges before coming to conclusions." Ed had a unique ability to ask questions and to speak at their own level with all his clients, whether plant operators, engineers, managers or governing boards.

    As a utility engineer who has split my career between consulting and utility management, I became aware that even good consulting engineers sometimes have condescending attitudes toward their public clients, due to their sometimes inability to make quick decisions or take quick action on projects from beginning to end. If those engineers had put themselves in their clients shoes, they would have seen that public decisions require much more bureaucracy and stakeholder input than private clients. The best engineers understand this and help those clients navigate those issues.

    What about you, fellow collaborators, what were the most important lessons that you learned from your mentors and how did these lessons help you to be better, more effective engineers?

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    Bevin Beaudet P.E., M.ASCE
    President/Owner
    Bevin A. Beaudet, P.E., LLC.
    West Palm Beach FL
    (561)225-1214
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  • 2.  RE: Mentoring

    Posted 08-31-2018 04:38 PM
    While not really a mentor, a client gave me a lesson I take with me to this day.

    This client took some time and carefully reviewed my draft report.  He circled in red the word "feel" in several places.  His comment and my lesson, "I do not want to know how your feel, I want to hear about what you know and recommend."  I have never used the word "feel," as in concluding paragraphs as, "I feel we should move forward with...," in any technical report, presentation, or correspondence since-- excepting wife and family of course!

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    Martin Hanson P.E., F.ASCE
    Starboard Tack Consulting
    Eau Claire WI
    (715)330-3625
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  • 3.  RE: Mentoring

    Posted 09-01-2018 10:42 PM
    Understanding and applying logic in every aspect of decision-making is what my mentor, Professor B. R Tinsley, taught me, but this was not a class in logic, it was a mathematics plane geometry class early in my college years. While discussing postulates, theorems and proofs, Professor Tinsley imparted, not only a manner of analytical thinking, but also a manner of gentle, yet effective persuasion.  He was the Director of Technical Education at Manatee Junior College (now State College of Florida) and provided critical reviews for the "Architectural and Building Construction Technology: A Suggested 2-Year Post High School Curriculum".  The logical aspects of thinking through a decision that needs to be made is what I have utilized throughout my engineering career as well as within other aspects of life in general.

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    Ronald Boenau P.E., F.ASCE
    International Transportation Research Advisor
    Boone NC
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  • 4.  RE: Mentoring

    Posted 09-03-2018 06:31 PM

    This is an interesting topic and it was nice reading some of the shared experiences. While personal feeling is an important initiator of things, it is not something one is supposed to stick to – as one moves beyond the initial stage of subjectivity of feelings to the rationality of objectivity. The importance of feelings (perhaps sort of intuitions that mature through experience) could be understood from sayings such as, this does not seem right.

    But when one moves from this initial stage into the next – into analyzing and diagnosing a problem – to seeking and generating solutions by identifying their merits and shortcomings – to assessing the effects of solutions, there is no room for influences afforded by feelings. Professionalism demands the process to be justifiable and verifiable, and personal feelings have no value at this stage. If feelings were to influence – the array of solutions becomes compromised – biasing the decision-making in one way or another that may have far-reaching consequences.

    HAPPY LABOR DAY to all at ASCE Collaborate!



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    Dr. Dilip Barua, Ph.D, P.Eng, M. ASCE
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Website: https://widecanvas.weebly.com

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  • 5.  RE: Mentoring

    Posted 09-05-2018 12:15 PM
    ​An early mentor of mine gave me sage advice that I pass on to all junior engineers. "Never be a specialist, but have a specialty." This advice has guided my career. It entails not getting so rooted in the details of one specialty, that you cannot see the larger picture of how that specialty fits with the larger project.  I encourage younger engineers to look beyond the task assignment to understand the overall objective of their work.  For example, in order to do good stormwater management design, one must know something of site development, and it would not hurt to know something about soils and geology to recommend appropriate systems; and yet still have the expertise to design the system.  Understanding project constraints leads to workable solutions.  It is essential to understand and speak the language of other specialties to understand and be understood by other members of the design team, regulators, and clients.

    The difference between a technician and a professional often comes down to the depth of understanding and ability to recommend relevant solutions in variety of situations.

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    Michael Byle P.E., D.GE, F.ASCE
    Tetra Tech Inc.,
    Langhorne PA
    (215) 702-4113
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  • 6.  RE: Mentoring

    Posted 10-16-2018 12:36 PM
    The piece of advise that I keep returning to came from one of the senior managers at my company. She told me that the last one percent of the job is not only as important, but also as difficult as the first 99%. I keep telling this to myself at the end of every project, when I tend to be overdue and/or over budget, and want to move on to the next thing.

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    Natalya Sokolovskaya P.E., M.ASCE
    Wynnewood PA
    (323)382-6176
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  • 7.  RE: Mentoring

    Posted 10-18-2018 01:38 PM
    Natalya is correct on the last 1%.  I think that we as engineers forget the first 1% too.  Correctly scoping and costing the project will prevent many cases of heartburn at the last 1% of the project.

    I think mentors can help young engineers learn that the technical stuff is easy compared to the initial budgeting and final report writing.


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    Dwayne Culp, Ph.D., P.E., P.Eng, M.ASCE
    Culp Engineering, LLC
    Rosenberg TX
    (713)898-1977
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  • 8.  RE: Mentoring

    Posted 10-22-2018 07:57 PM
    Natalya: This made me smile.  One of my sayings is similar.  Ninty percent of the work is in the last ten percent of the job.