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Interview with Civil Engineer Don S.
Don S. has worked at Parsons for 19 ½ years as a civil engineer. He joined Parsons right after graduating from Michigan State University. He has worked in three different offices in Georgia, Florida, and currently Illinois. Don’s job has taken him across the United States and even out of the country.
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
I wanted to be in the army. As a kid, I liked playing army with my friends. I wanted to be like my dad, I guess. Both of my parents were in the army in World War II so that’s why I wanted to be in the army. I had heard stories from both of them about World War II, and since I didn’t know the dangers, it just sounded exciting.
What was your first job?
The first one I got paid for was cutting the lawn at our house, and I got paid for helping our neighbors bale hay and put it in the barn.
What kind of education is needed for your job?
You need a degree in civil engineering. A bachelor’s degree/four years are the minimum. After four years of work experience, an engineer is eligible to take the professional engineer exam. Before taking the professional engineer exam, a prospective engineer has to take and pass the fundamentals of engineering exam required for all engineers.
What inspired you to become an engineer?
I was working at a wastewater treatment plant in Michigan, and it was undergoing design for expansion. I spoke with one of the engineers who was at the plant talking to the operators about the expansion, and I thought it was interesting. I thought I wanted to do that so for two years I worked and saved as much money as possible so that I could quit my job and go back to school full-time.
What are your daily duties?
My typical daily duties are responding to client questions, usually by phone or email. I do civil engineering design, which can include piping design, pumping, stormwater, groundwater, water, wastewater, and environmental remediation. I also assist with remediation system operations. I also do field work that includes construction inspection and oversight. I also get involved in permitting for discharge of the treated water into a stream or river. A big part of my job is writing reports and reviewing reports and designs prepared by others.
Do you like being a civil engineer?
I love it. In engineering consulting, there’s a wide variety of work I do. So I not only enjoy the work, I enjoy the wide variety. The limited travel is okay because I don’t stay there for months at a time. I have had many opportunities to travel overseas but the company typically wants you to stay for six months or more.
What are the challenges of this job?
Keeping the clients happy and meeting project schedules and budgets. Keeping clients happy typically brings repeat work from that client.
Who benefits from your job?
My clients and the public benefit because we clean up the environment by designing and building ground water remediation systems and wastewater treatment plants.