Civil Engineering Success Stories

About me:

Picture of Kailen Akers (CIVIL Success Stories)

Kailen Akers
B.S. in Civil Engineering (2013)
ms consultants, inc., Columbus, OH

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Site Civil Engineer:
In my role as a Site Civil Engineer, I work on commercial and industrial land development projects of all sizes. My goal is to provide our clients with the plans they need to turn an empty lot into a successful development that best serves their customers. I coordinate the project scope and manage deadlines across the many service groups within our company, which includes architects and engineers from our structural, traffic, mechanical, plumbing, and electrical groups. Additionally, I design utilities and stormwater management systems to ensure that the new development does not have adverse effects on the environment and surrounding community.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
One of the most important skills required to be successful in my role is organization. At any given time, I have several active projects that are all in different stages, from concepts through construction, so it is important to know the status of every project and what the next steps are. Communication is also very important when discussing deadlines and resolving design conflicts across our many different service areas, and when attending public meetings or discussing the design requirements with a city representative. Being experienced in CAD and other relevant software is critical when working on design and construction drawings.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Civil Engineering?
First, I would advise students to get experience working in CAD if they are interested in doing any sort of design work. This is a very important skill for my field and it gives job applicants an edge if they are familiar with the software. Students should also get involved on campus in both engineering and non-engineering organizations or teams. Building a network across many different industries will always be beneficial because you will have a wide range of people with different areas of expertise, and you never know when you can help them or they can help you. Finally, students should intern at a few different companies and in different roles, as much as possible. This is the best way to determine your career goals and test out your future company or industry. It also provides valuable networking opportunities and work experience that will help you land a job upon graduation.

About me:

Muhyadin Artan headshot

Muhyadin Artan
B.S. in Civil Engineering (2014)
City of Columbus, Columbus, OH

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Traffic Studies Engineer:
My duties as Traffic Studies Engineer include collecting field data (volume count, speed, vehicular classification, observational data, existing traffic control, etc.) and analyzing it to find solutions to the problem at hand. I am mainly responsible for performing pedestrian crossing analysis and intersection safety evaluation including identifying capacity and crash issues and proposing solutions to mitigate those issues. Occasionally, as part of ongoing Columbus Traffic Signal System (CTSS) project, I help conduct traffic signal warrant analysis to determine the retention or removal of a traffic signal.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
Skills required to be successful in my role include attention to detail, communication and organizational skills. As a public servant, there are occasions that require me to contact a constituent/resident and the ability to convey my message to them in non-technical way is a very important skill. I use a variety of different software in my job function including GIS and CAD.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Civil Engineering?
My first piece of advice to a perspective civil engineer is to avoid limiting yourself to one area of civil engineering (i.e. transportation, structural, etc.) as you will likely be involved in projects that contain more than one sub discipline of civil engineering. Second, develop strong verbal and written communication skills. I also recommend to look for a civil engineering internship (use ECS) and join the ASCE OSU chapter. Finally, familiarize yourself the software used in the industry including Civil3D, GIS, MicroStation, and Synchro.

About me: 

Picture of Asnika Bajracharya (CIVIL Success Stories)

Asnika Bajracharya 
B.S. in Physics and Environmental Studies, Gettysburg College (2014)
M.S. in Civil Engineering (2017)
Arcadis, Columbus, OH

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Water Engineer:
My job as a Water Engineer, specializing in hydraulic modelling, is to find the most efficient solution using hydraulic and hydrology computer models. I work on projects related to water collection system, which includes waste and storm water, for the local and state water utilities. I provide technical input on design construction and alternative engineering solutions for water/wastewater modeling and planning projects.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
It is crucial to have a strong background in computer programming and mathematics. You must be prepared to do a lot of self-learning and be efficient at the same time. The first few years might be tough because of the learning curve so patience and tenacity are some of the important skills to possess.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Civil Engineering?   
The majority of industry is heading toward the digital era. A lot of the traditional methods are going to transition to digital so make sure you have some computer skills under your belt. Aim to complete at least one internship and subscribe to business news so that you have an understanding of which direction the industry is headed to in the future. Lastly, do not be shy to network with alumni. Trust me, knowing someone in the industry can greatly help you during job hunt. 

About me:

Brandon Gregg headshot

Brandon Gregg
B.S. in Civil Engineering (2015)
Kimley-Horn, Virginia Beach, VA

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Civil Engineer:
My duties currently include everything from Roadway design to inspections. I am fortunate enough to be able to work in and with several disciplines in my company. There are days where I do CAD design work (in both Microstation and AutoCAD), there are days where I work with our Transportation group, our Lighting group, and even our Land Development group. My personal favorite, though, are the days where I get to do field inspections, whether it be Roadway conditions or traffic counts, it's always nice to do stuff outside of the office.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
The biggest key to being successful in my role and in my company is communication. When you are just starting out in the engineering field, you should be getting exposed to a lot of different and new ideas in your field. There is not a single person who will know how to do everything that is thrown their way, and so being able to communicate with your supervisors and co-workers to get projects done right is key.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Civil Engineering?
My best advice would be for everyone to keep an open mind. Don't pick what discipline you want to do within Civil Engineering until you have tried all of them.

About me:

Ian Houston headshot

Ian Houston
B.S. in Civil Engineering (2010)
M.S. in Civil Engineering (2015), Cleveland State University 
Nelson Stud Welding, Elyria, OH

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Construction Engineering Manager:
I manage the Nuclear Quality Assurance (NQA) program, maintain building code compliance and represent company on code writing committees (AWS, ACI, PCI, etc), project management; new product development and design aid development, perform focused presentations to a wide variety of groups. My role also entails marketing, customer service, and inside sales.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
Flexibility, problem solving skills, people skills, high level organization and time management are all required in being successful in my role.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Civil Engineering?
Work on your people skills by taking a public speaking class. Learn as much as you can from everyone you meet, they will know something you do not. Always, always be flexible. Do not be afraid to fail. Do not be afraid to come out of your comfort zone and take on new challenges/opportunities because you never know where your career will take you.

About me:

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Beth Kronk
B.S. in Civil Engineering (2012), University of Dayton
M.S. in Civil Engineering (2014)
Carpenter Marty Transportation, Columbus, OH

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Bridge Engineer:
My responsibilities include design of bridge and culvert projects for the Ohio Department of Transportation, counties, and municipalities throughout the State of Ohio including the design and plan preparation for new and rehabilitated structures. I am also responsible for designing many Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE) walls and other various retaining wall systems. In addition, I perform bridge hydraulic analyses which include identifying floodplain management issues and navigating projects through permitting processes.

Please explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
Communication is one of the most crucial skills required for being successful in my role. I work with a team and it essential that we not only communicate well with one another but also with other teams within our company in order to complete projects successfully and on time. Another important skill is organization. I am frequently working on multiple projects at once that are in different stages of completion or that continue for many years. It is important for me to keep these projects organized so that nothing falls through the cracks. Finally, attention to detail is essential to create a set of construction plans that are easy to read and interpret.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Civil Engineering?
Take as many different classes across disciplines as you can when you're in school. Civil engineering is very diverse and you will likely be working with people from all different disciplines regardless of your specialty. Keep an open  mind, and try to learn as much as you can from everyone you meet. I highly recommend an internship or co-op so that you can get a better idea of what civil engineers do on a day-to-day basis in your chosen discipline.

About me: 
Jibin Liu headshot
Jibin Liu
B.S. in Environmental Engineering (2012), Hunan Agricultural University
M.S. in Civil Engineering (2014)
Amazon, San Francisco, CA

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Software Engineer:
My role focuses on designing and building backend software systems for crowd-sourcing and machine learning projects. The work heavily relies on AWS, especially serverless and event-driven architecture. Others include a reasonable grasp of internet technologies (tcp/ip, HTTP, HTML, XML, css, JavaScript).

Please explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
Analytical thinking, strong programming skills, and a curiosity for technology are required to be successful in my role. You need to be detail oriented, a quick learner and possess strong communication skills. I also think it’s important to be self-motivated (you should ask for work from Project Mangers).

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Civil Engineering
Your major doesn't determine what you can do and accomplish in the future. Instead, understand that your knowledge and experiences are transferable. As a Civil Engineering major, analytical thinking, problem-solving,and communication are examples of qualities that can be applied to almost all other fields. If you'd like to be a software engineer, modeling courses in Civil Engineering will show you how to build a computational model to describe and predict real work activities. This same though process can be applied in computer science. Meanwhile, be both realistic and ambitious when pursuing your dream job. If you're not there yet, be patient, work hard, and keep learning. You will eventually get there!

About me:

Syn Dee Chua headshot

Syn Dee Chua
B.S. in Civil Engineering (2014)
George J. Igel & Co., Inc., Columbus, OH

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as an Estimator/Project Coordinator:
In short, I mainly assist with preparing bids on construction projects.  I perform quantity takeoffs of earthwork, utilities, concrete, and site development items, help price items of work using productions and crews, and contacting subcontractors & vendors for quotes to ultimately, produce a proposal or bid for building the project. Occasionally, I help with managing ongoing construction projects, providing change estimates, and working on the job site to oversee progress and resolve construction issues.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
One, to have an eye for detail is crucial. Construction plans and contract documents have a lot of fine print and we have to make sure that everything is accounted for in a bid, or risk not being awarded project. Two, being able to communicate clearly and professionally is also another valuable skill. There will always be questions and things that need clarification, and the most effective way to solve a problem is to be able to communicate and converse clearly – whether it is in-person, through a phone call, or an email. As engineers, or "technical people”, being able to communicate a technical problem to non-technical people is a key skill. With that being said, in addition to communication, treating people with respect and being humble (as proud as we are to be engineers) can go a long way. Having a good relationship with the people you work with can be beneficial in many ways. In my case, it is not just my fellow colleagues in the office. I have a lot of respect for my colleagues who are out on the field with their boots in the mud, who are actually doing the construction work. They have a wealth of knowledge that I do not, and I rely on them and their experiences for me to do my job successfully.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Civil Engineering?
“Civil Engineering” has the term “civil” in it for a reason. You will be dealing with people and creating infrastructure systems meant for people. You have to enjoy working in a team, and working with people. There’s no running away from it, and this is also true for all forms of engineering. On top of that, there has to be fascination for the built environment and for infrastructure. To try to figure out if civil engineering is right for you, think beyond roads, bridges and buildings as the only things civil engineers work on. In this day and age, it’s so much more than that. Think land surveying, laying underground pipeline networks, redesigning road traffic signal systems, creating the next most-sustainable building material, LIDAR mapping, and 4D construction project scheduling. The list is always expanding as science and technology develops! Civil engineers solve a whole range of problems that people take for granted each day. It’s important to dig deep into the huge variety of things that civil engineers do and find something you’re interested in. Be constantly curious about the world we live in everyday!

About me:
Andrew Salt

Andrew Salt headshot

B.S. in Civil Engineering (2016)
Speedway LLC, Enon, OH

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Project Manager:
As a Project Manager, I am responsible for guiding projects from their identification, through permitting, construction, and completion. I work mainly on projects related to the building of new store locations, or demolishing and rebuilding existing facilities. After projects are identified, I work with all stakeholders to ensure that project scope is accurate, and maintain project estimates and schedules. During the permitting and design phases I act as a point of contact between internal departments and external consultants. This includes working closely with our engineering group in order to coordinate design and permitting activities. In addition, I collaborate with the appropriate municipalities and agencies in order to secure all necessary permits and approvals for a project. During construction, I work with our general contractor to ensure that the schedule is being kept and that work is completed according to expectation. After construction is complete I coordinate with our operations group to make sure that the store is opened and fully functional.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
First and foremost, my position requires communication skills. I am coordinating complex, evolving projects and must keep a large number of stakeholders informed and updated. Just as important are organizational skills. I work on multiple projects at a time, all in different stages of development. Flexibility is also key. I often have to adapt to project challenges as they arise, and adjust accordingly. As with most things, I have also found that a desire to learn and openness to new ideas is always essential. I am constantly learning new skills and practices which are needed to complete my projects.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Civil Engineering?
Always remain open to new opportunities. When I decided on the Civil Engineering major, I was not sure where it would take me. I tried to take a wide variety of classes, and I completed several internships in order to find how I could best apply my skills. It was through one of those internships that I found my job. Civil Engineering teaches a wide variety of skill sets. Most importantly, the Civil Engineering major teaches the design aspects which are fundamentally necessary to the profession. Beyond this, the major teaches invaluable problem solving and critical thinking skills which will serve you well in a variety of ways. Find the aspects of the field that give you sense of fulfillment and keep building on them.

About me:

Picture of Heidi Strobl (CIVIL Success Stories)

Heidi Strobl
B.S. in Civil Engineering (2017)
T&M Associates, Columbus, OH

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Staff Designer:
As a Staff Designer in the Water Resource Department at T&M Associates, it is my job to support the project/client manager throughout the design and implementation phases of a project. I create plan sets in AutoCAD that conform to our clients’ needs and standards. I also create exhibits in GIS (Geographic Information System) for proposals that visually represent the area in question and the overall technical approach needed to complete the project. It is important that I understand stormwater calculations to properly size underground pipes to ensure that they will perform under various storm conditions. Depending on the needs of the company, I also assist in other departments, such as the Environmental Department, where I turn sampling data from wells into a presentable format. When creating reports, it is important to remember who your audience is and how to present data in a way that is readable to the client. One of my goals for 2018 is to work with the Air or Land Development departments at T&M so that I can become a more well-rounded engineer.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
Verbal communication is such an important part of my role at T&M. Since all projects have a deadline and a budget, the project manager and I will communicate about the parameters of the project, addressing the specifics of each task, timeline and budget, as well as project overview. It is extremely important for communication to occur at every level for a project to be successful. We often collaborate with other engineering firms on many of our projects, and without strong communication skills, it would be impossible to work efficiently with other companies. Specifically, as a Staff Designer I must also have excellent skills with AutoCAD and GIS to fulfill my current role. Posessing a solid technical background will help me in the future as a project manager or a technical specialist. I also must have excellent organizational skills since we work on many projects at once. Currently I am involved in a minimum of four projects on a weekly basis. It can be daunting to work on numerous projects, but with the right balance of communication, organization and time management it can be very rewarding.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Civil Engineering?
When I was first accepted into Civil Engineering (CE), I had no idea of all the areas it had to offer, whether that be construction, geotechnical, structural, transportation, or water resource engineering, I think it is helpful to take a few classes in each specialization so that you can get a feel for which one really suits you and your goals. It is also very important to get internships in a few different specialties of CE so that you know what each career specialization entails. Also, never turn down an internship opportunity because it isn’t in the specialty you are looking for, you might end up loving that field. Lastly, networking is very important. I obtained my first/current job from having an active presence on Linkedin. As soon as you start your college career, create a Linkedin and keep track of important projects and connections you make; you never know how those could benefit you in the future.