May 31, 2016 / News
Five months ago, a handful of our civil engineers decided to embark upon the dedicated task of studying for their […]
Last week, the National Society of Professional Engineers celebrated National Engineers Week; an opportunity to demonstrate that engineering is more than just solving problems using math and science and to elevate the public dialogue about the need for more kids to consider a career in engineering.
We asked several of LandDesign’s young professionals to share their thoughts on careers in civil engineering. Meet Tareq El-Sadi, David Gastel and Aly Moniaci.
What kind of things did you like to do growing up that led you to a career in civil engineering?
Aly was always fascinated by buildings. “Growing up, I loved using blocks and such to build and create. I was also an athlete, so I grew up being part of a team.” Math also interested Aly. She excelled in those classes more than others and didn’t mind the homework because she enjoyed it so much. “My dad encouraged me to be an engineer. I knew that civil engineering offered a wide span of options, plus none of the other engineering choices got me as excited about the work the way civil did.”
Like Aly, David enjoyed building things when he was a kid, especially 3D puzzles of the Taj Mahal and the Sears Tower in Chicago. He also relished figuring out solutions to problems, especially ones that others couldn’t solve. “I also constructed a model train city every Christmas with my father. This taught me everything from creativity and presentation to electrical (it lit up!) and structural; even painting.”
Tareq is a third generation civil engineer, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. “When I was young, my father would bring me to work with him.” The two would visit project sites including massive industrial facilities such as water desalination plants and power plants as well as smaller projects like hospitals and office buildings.
“As a kid, I was amazed to see a project go from an idea on paper to a completed project. I knew I wanted to be a civil engineer when I realized my father was leaving an imprint that would benefit his community and society, as well.”
Can you share a project that illustrates how civil engineering’s creativity and teamwork is making a difference in the world?
Tareq believes every project he’s been involved with has made a positive difference in the world. “Our work on single family subdivisions has created living spaces for families. Medical office buildings provide space for physicians to practice and provide healthcare to those who need it. While each project has its own set of difficulties, as engineers we are always looking for creative ways to effectively resolve those challenges.” He noted that often a complex project is successful because of teamwork and the collaborative efforts of all the disciplines involved including civil engineers; landscape architects; mechanical, electrical, plumbing and structural engineers; architects and geotechnical engineers.
Aly chose The Village at Commonwealth, a multi-family community in Charlotte. “Due to the site’s confines – including utility lines that were already installed within the roadways – it took creativity to figure out where to locate all of the utility infrastructure and still meet the city’s guidelines.” The project team included the client, landscape architects, the architect and civil engineers. “It took constant communication by everyone involved to stay on top of all the changes and make sure they didn’t conflict with that was previously designed. There is no way this job would have been successful without the whole team working as one to make it come to life.” The multi-use site includes apartments, single family townhomes, a co-working space and a coffee shop, all adjacent to a park. “We created a place for people to live, work and play all within walking distance.”
David considers the North Carolina Research Campus the most influential project he has worked on. It includes cancer research centers, parks, medical office buildings and college classrooms. “There were a lot of people involved in various parts of engineering to help make the project happen. It had an early impact on my engineering career.”
What would you tell today’s young people to encourage them to consider a career in engineering?
David sees STEM careers (science, technology, engineering and math) as the wave of the future. “I think a lot of schools and parents get that. I would encourage them to expose kids to the various aspects of engineering and let them discover what ignites their passion for making a better world.”
Perhaps reflecting on his father and grandfather, Tareq views the engineering field as timeless and believes the need for more kids to consider engineering is really a need for more people to consider making society better. “Engineering is essential for basic life needs such as providing potable water distribution systems, water treatment facilities, wastewater treatment, transportation, electricity and the list goes on and on.”
Aly also points to the limitless need for engineers, with infrastructure like roadways and utilities always requiring updates. Plus, her enthusiasm for the profession is contagious. “The best thing about engineering is that you get to use your creativity and knowledge to create spaces and buildings that others will use for a very long time. It is not just about sitting at a desk and drawing up the same plans all day, every day. I always love driving by a project that I have worked on and watch it being built and when it opens to the public.”
Finally, we asked Aly, David and Tareq to list the top 3 reasons they love engineering.