National Engineers Week (#EWeek) was founded in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) to highlight the importance of engineers throughout our society. It intentionally coincides with the birthday of the first president of the United States of America, George Washington, who is also hailed as the country’s first engineer. And Now, over 70 years after it’s inception, #EWeek is still celebrated annually in honor of the millions of U.S. engineers working across the globe, including the over 26,000 licensed as professional engineers (PEs) through NSPE.
This year’s theme — Creating the Future — is dedicated to recognizing the vital role engineers play in creating new opportunities for global improvement. By working together to create new technologies and develop innovative solutions to face global problems, the possibilities created by engineers now will have a lasting impact for many generations to come.
At Chastain-Skillman (CS), we’re proud to have a team of engineers dedicated to constant innovation, ensuring the growth and development of the communities we serve, from Central Florida to Middle Tennessee. This week, we had the chance to speak with a few of our talented team members about their experiences as CS engineers and their thoughts on the future of the engineering industry.
Keep reading to learn more about the engineers we interviewed and hear their thoughts on how engineers ‘Create the Future’:
Describe your role at Chastain-Skillman? What areas of engineering do you specialize in?
AS: I am an Engineer IV in the Water/Wastewater Department at Chastain-Skillman, specializing in environmental engineering and project management.
SG: I am the Assistant Director of Civil Engineering in the Orlando office. I work in the Land Development department, where we design and permit private and public development projects. I specialize in the design of all the infrastructure required to serve a development. A big part of my services involves the design of utilities such as: potable and sanitary sewer mains, lift stations, stormwater collection systems, earthwork grading, and general urban design.
NR: I am currently an Engineering Intern or E.I. at Chastain-Skillman. In general, I assist project managers with project design and preparation of project documents (drawings, specifications, technical memorandums, etc.). I also provide support during construction to the contractor. Specifically, I do process engineering for water and wastewater treatment plants and designing the means of transporting water from one place to another (pumps and pipelines).
AB: I am a Water/Wastewater Engineer in the Lakeland office at Chastain-Skillman. I specialize in putting plans together for water and wastewater transmission lines.
What is your favorite part about being an engineer?
AS: I enjoy the daily challenges. Every day there is a new problem, different than the day before, that I must find workable and cost-effective solutions for.
SG: I enjoy the challenge of every project being different. Every municipality has their own Land Development Code which we must base our design on. I also hire other consultants to support my design such as: Surveyors, Environmental Consultants, Landscape Architects and Geotechnical Engineers. They each have their own role in the design process.
NR: My favorite part of being an engineer is getting to work on projects or have experiences that are unique. Not your average person gets paid to design water treatment plants or pump stations. However, it is important to acknowledge the expense, risk, and responsibility that comes with it. Also, the other day I got to stand in an empty 1.33-million-gallon tank that holds everything everyone in the City of Bartow flushes down the toilet when operating. Pretty cool, huh?
AB: Being an engineer challenges me to be creative and find ways to solve problems. Whether on a micro- or macroscale.
What is one thing you wish you had known before becoming an engineer?
AS: That there’s no time for rest 😀
SG: How important communication and coordination are to the success of a project. As a Land Development Engineer, I am constantly on the phone or writing emails communicating and coordinating tasks necessary for the development of a project.
NR: I wish I knew more about construction methods and the industry before I started working as an engineer. I only had one class on the construction industry during my bachelor’s degree program but there is a lot more to learn than what can be covered in a typical semester.
AB: I wish I had known how many roadblocks and obstacles engineers must face in real-world design.
If you had to pick one, what new or recent technology in the engineering industry are you most excited about?
AS: 3D modeling is an amazing technology that adds a lot to engineering, especially the design part.
SG: Autodesk Civil 3D software. This software came to change the way engineers design and collaborate with other consultants, construction companies and developers. This software speeds up the design process and make design changes very easy.
NR: I cannot name a specific technology, but I will provide trends in the industry that I am excited about: There is talk of direct potable reuse from wastewater treatment plants. That will allow us to drink what we flush down the sink, toilet, and drain— saving a lot of water. However, there is a concern over the adequate removal of pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, and other chemicals from the water before consumption and the public might not immediately accept drinking water that came from someone’s toilet. The technology is expensive to accomplish this, so this is not a widespread trend yet.
AB: When it comes to design drawings, improvements to computer-based design have grown rapidly. I don’t have enough knowledge about all the most recent technologies to really make a decision on what I am the most excited about.
What is the most impactful project you’ve worked on? How did it make a difference in the community?
AS: Currently, I am working on the Polk Regional Water Cooperative’s (PRWC) Southeast Wellfield and Water Supply Facility project. It is part of a $500,000,000 program involving 14 cities and towns, including Polk County. The goal of this project is to develop the brackish, Lower Floridan Aquifer (LFA) in Southeast Polk County as an “alternative” water supply.
SG: I worked in many Orange County Public Schools from Middle schools to High Schools. It was gratifying to deliver a new school that students felt proud to attend and to see an old school come to life after the modifications were done.
NR: The most impactful project I have worked on is the improvement of the City of Wauchula’s aerobic digesters. This project was intended to increase the reliability of the City’s only wastewater treatment plant. While this may not sound like much, a well operating aerobic digester can ensure safe disposal of plant generated sludge that does not have adverse impacts on people or the environment.
AB: The most impactful project I’m working on now is a water transmission main for PRWC. It is still a work in progress, but the goal is to improve water supply, especially for growing communities and new developments, and allow cities within Polk County to share water with one another.
What are your hopes for the future of engineering?
AS: Developing new technologies for clean air quality, recycling, green materials, and more. Engineers are needed now more than ever for achieving what we need to meet the climate challenge.
SG: I hope that society understands the importance of encouraging kids at a young age to aspire to become engineers. I hope that we can continue to mentor young engineers and prepare them for the new challenges Artificial Intelligence will bring to the market.
NR: I hope to see more people become interested in civil and environmental engineering. Most people do not realize the diversity of work done by civil engineers. Aerospace and mechanical engineering seem to get all the attention.
AB: I hope that computer software continues to grow more and more intelligent over in ways to make designing and redesigning less stressful.
This year’s Engineers Week theme is ‘Creating the Future’. In what ways do you think engineers ‘Create the Future’?
AS: By building the infrastructure upon which society depends, and whatever new wonders appear, engineers can shape the future.
SG: Engineers are responsible for designing all the infrastructure necessary for community development, from the water coming from the tap to the roads we drive on.
NR: Engineers create the future by solving today’s problems so they do not persist tomorrow. We accomplish this by continuing to seek improvement and maintain the status quo. Drinking water treatment to prevent transmission of waterborne illnesses was not widely implemented until the early 1900s and sewage treatment was not a federal requirement until 1972. Prior to these milestones in civil engineering, widespread illness due to contaminated drinking water and environmental pollution from wastewater were common problems. These issues are uncommon today.
AB: To ‘Create the Future’ one must have a vision. A purpose. A change they want to see in the world. I think engineers ‘Create the Future’ by advancing technology. As engineers, we find new ways to make various systems more efficient and user-friendly to help tackle the world’s biggest problems. But I also believe anyone can ‘Create the Future’; whether it be an engineer, a journalist, a financial assistant, or even someone simply sharing a smile with another.
CS is a leading engineering firm headquartered in Lakeland, Florida, with satellite offices in Orlando, FL, and Nashville, TN. Established in Lakeland in 1950, our company provides Civil Engineering, Water/Wastewater Engineering, Land Surveying, Geology/Hydrogeology, and Construction Management/Inspections services.
At CS, we treasure our role in creating thriving communities, always respecting the impact our work has on their foundations and their futures. For more information, visit chastainskillman.com.