“Scientists discover the world that exists; Engineers create the world that never was.” - Theodore von Kármán
Kids love to make things. This undisputable fact is why parents ply their kids with toys of all kinds to occupy their minds, hands, and time. Fortunate are the children who are nurtured from an early age to follow their curious nature by constructing with Lego, building an elaborate Minecraft realm, fiddling with electronics, or simply drawing structures on paper or a tablet. Even though most kids have the potential to create things, actually becoming an engineer requires more than just that. In fact, becoming an engineer takes encouragement, curiosity, a passion to solve problems, and most importantly, mentorship.
For Lochmueller’s President & CEO, Doug Shatto, PE, PTOE, it was an “old school” drafting set given to him by his uncle who was an engineer that first inspired him. This elaborate antique toy, with compasses and mechanical pencils, was fascinating to him. Next it was a slide rule, which he called, “…a game of its own,” given to him by his high school chemistry and physics teacher. Add a love of solving puzzles and problems of any kind plus a natural ability at math, especially geometry, trigonometry, and physics, and Doug’s future career in engineering was well on its way. But as he grew older, Doug recognized the pragmatism of an engineering degree. Engineering provided a stable career path and financial security, and offered the satisfaction of solving real-world problems that, as Doug says, “[make] a positive impact on so many communities and people…”
Problem solving is a common trait among engineers. Kaylee Angerer, EI, an Engineer III in the Highway Design department, recognized that she enjoyed solving problems, and not just math problems, as a result of the mentorship she received from her earth sciences professor in college. In fact, as she made her way through her engineering coursework, having more and more challenging classes sharpened her problem-solving skills. The combination of having an incredible mentor during the early part of her college career and having a passion for problem solving truly propelled Kaylee into the field of engineering, especially since she thought she wasn’t smart enough to be an engineer in the first place. In her job at Lochmueller, when a new project resembles a previous one, Kaylee understands that it is each project’s distinct challenge that will always require a unique solution, which brings incredible job satisfaction and sense of pride.
Finding job satisfaction or fulfillment may not be top of mind to a student considering engineering, but for Kelly Schaefer, PE, PTOE, a Senior Traffic Engineer in the Traffic Services department, she finds satisfaction in creating “…safer roads and working for people that care about their communities.” This is not just a local challenge, but a global one; one that engineers around the world have in common: to make roads safer for people. Kelly’s path into engineering was heavily influenced by family members already in the field and therefore came naturally. Today, she finds satisfaction in training and mentoring new engineers. Though Kelly’s choice of profession was a relatively easy one because it “runs in the family”, she is grateful and loves being an engineer.
Continuing the thread of engineers being inspired at a young age, Lochmueller’s Adam Steury, PE, SE, Senior Project Engineer and Project Manager in the Bridge Design department, began his path toward engineering through an interest in architecture as a result of a grade school research project. When he was in high school, Adam combined his interest in architecture with a love for mathematics and while in college pursued structural engineering. Adam’s internship with Lochmueller exposed him to bridge structural design and inspection, his chosen engineering specialty today. Engineering students who seek internships for the hands-on mentorship understand how critical this is to their future success.
Lochmueller’s team of civil engineers all have a different story as to how they chose their profession. Some may just simply love math, some may enjoy problem-solving, and some may relish a good technical challenge, but each of them has a passion for what they do because someone early in their life encouraged them, mentored them, or put a tool into their hands. The influence of another human being is a key component to a successful future in engineering. No matter what a person’s aptitude is, engineering skills can be learned by anyone who is determined and passionate. Curious students who take their education seriously and accept the guidance of mentorship can find their passion in engineering and be rewarded with a career that leads to economic stability, professional satisfaction, and leadership opportunities. Engineers will always be needed to “…create a world that never was.” What are you waiting for?