Celebrating Engineering’s Far-Reaching Impact
The far-reaching impact of modern engineering on day-to-day life is extraordinary. Everything from clean drinking water and efficient roadway networks to advanced medical systems and modern communication technology is all made possible by the engineering profession. Each year, the engineering community and educators across the country celebrate National Engineers Week (E-Week) to recognize the accomplishments and contributions of engineers. It’s the only event of its kind that not only honors engineers and their work but also strives to increase public awareness of the profession for the public.
As the complex challenges faced by society continue to evolve, National Engineers Week serves as a valuable platform to help educate, mentor, and inspire the next generation of forward-thinking engineers. Initiated by the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) in 1951, this year marks the 72nd anniversary of Engineers Week. Since 1990, it has been organized and supported by DiscoverE (formerly known as the National Engineers Week Foundation), which uses outreach, education, celebration, and volunteerism to promote the engineering profession.
The 2023 E-Week theme is “Creating the Future,” with a variety of videos, activity ideas, posters, and other resources available at discovere.org. To launch Engineers Week 2023, four seasoned members of the Snyder & Associates engineering team shared their thoughts on the profession, including their transitioning roles into mentorship positions, the projects that bring them the most pride, and their reasons for making Snyder & Associates their long-term career “home.”
Question & Answer with Engineering Professionals
All of you have worked on and led countless projects throughout your career and, in many cases, have seen your responsibilities transition to more of a mentorship role for less experienced engineers. How has that aspect changed how you approach a project?
Engineers are not the greatest at being delegators. I think this is a skill that you learn after you have been working for a while. I always try to approach projects in a manner where we break them down into smaller tasks so that when I explain where a young engineer should head, it isn’t too overwhelming for them. I want them to work at it but not get too frustrated they give up. Part of learning is living through challenges. When they are challenged, I don’t like to give them the answers, I ask more questions to guide them to find the answers on their own. A good engineer is also resourceful, and this helps them remember to use their resources.
— Elizabeth Hunter, PE, AICP, LEED AP
Early in my career, I enjoyed doing the work, figuring out design problems, and creating a solid plan set for the contractor to build. Progressing to the level of project management, the responsibilities of getting the project design and plans completed have transitioned mainly to junior staff members. I now look at projects through the lens of continued staff development, aligning design tasks with staff experience and career goals. — Nate Carhoff, PE
Having experienced a wide variety of projects, what one project (or type of project) makes you the proudest? Why?
One of my favorite projects was early on in my career and lasted long enough to thoroughly span a lot of early engineering development stages. I was tasked to help design a mechanical wastewater treatment plant and my mentor allowed me the flexibility to learn and try innovative ideas while sharing his lifelong experiences. I didn’t always understand, but as I progressed through the design and was tasked with construction observation, much of what we’d accomplished together became so fascinatingly clear. I was so proud to see the project from conception to completion, as well as the opportunities I got to dial in the operational parameters upon start-up. — Lindsay Beaman, PE
Being involved in the traffic field, I am most proud of the relatively quick impact projects have on the traveling public. We are on the cutting edge of what roadway projects should be, design how the roadway should operate, and, sometimes, operate the system after construction is completed. Typically, once any project starts, impacts on safety and operations to the traveling public are in place within a few years, some as quickly as a few days. So, it is hard to separate one project or one type of project when I can make an impact so quickly.
— Todd Knox PE, PTOE
Several of you have been with Snyder & Associates for all, or most of your careers. What has been the overarching factor of why you’ve stayed with the company for so long?
I have been with Snyder for about 5.5 years, but this is where I am staying. I love the variety of projects I get to work on. My co-workers are all great people who also work very hard on everything they do. When everyone is working together it makes the projects come together smoothly and has better outcomes for our clients. Snyder has some of the smartest and most knowledgeable subject matter experts I have met in my 25-year career as an engineer. — Elizabeth Hunter, PE, AICP, LEED AP
The entirety of my career has been with Snyder & Associates, which is a testament not only to my love for the type of services our company provides but more importantly to the people I get to work with. I know, that even on my worst days, I have the support of numerous professionals, eager to have my back, many of whom I consider more as a family than a coworker. — Lindsay Beaman, PE
For me, it is the variety of work that we do and the ability to shape my career around my interests. I have had the privilege to be involved in projects as small as solving a local sidewalk or drainage concern, to large multi-million-dollar infrastructure projects that take years to complete. In our group, there are no dictated silos, we can specialize in certain areas of our interest, or work on a variety of project types throughout the year. The company culture, compensation, and benefits package are also very high on my list of reasons why I plan to retire at Snyder. — Nate Carhoff, PE