Celebrating Inspiration for National Engineers Week

In February we celebrate National Engineer’s Week, which always falls on the week encompassing George Washington’s birthday. The idea was conceived by the National Society of Professional Engineers. It’s an interesting endeavor; to celebrate not the things we make but the people who make them.

We wanted to take that idea one step further this year. Rather than solely celebrate the engineer, why not go in search for the people that inspired them? We asked a few of our team; who inspired you, who ultimately made you an engineer before you ever knew it?

Frederick Mensah

Structural Engineer

“Growing up in the town of Koforidua in the Eastern Region of Ghana, making the world habitable through infrastructure development always fascinated me. My inspiration to get into the engineering profession was informed by that passion. This enthusiasm about infrastructure development was further developed after being introduced to “The Megastructures Show” on National Geographic Channel. This show was the coolest show for me at that time as a high school student.  It was therefore not surprising that I opted to study Civil Engineering at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana.

At KNUST, I met numerous astute engineers and professors, however the affable Professor Kwesi Akwansah Andam of blessed memory caught my attention. He was a renowned structural engineer and professor who rose through the ranks to become the Vice Chancellor of the University between 2002 and 2006. He was an authority in the field of structural engineering and authored over 100 books and technical papers. He provided valuable counsel on the path ahead and urged me to take my studies serious.  I kept his wise counsel throughout my studies and beyond. His ideas and legacies are still fresh in my mind. He inspires me each day of my life to excel in my engineering profession as well as contribute my quota in making the world a habitable place.”

Baccus Oliver

Principal/Mechanical Engineer

“My Uncle C.L. Baccus encouraged me to enter engineering.  He was a naval engineer on a warship in WWII and was very intelligent.  I accredit my success in college to my perseverance. It was hard and my high school counselor said I wouldn’t be able to complete my schooling. Despite that counselor’s warning I graduated and found success as an engineer.”

Shelby Craven

Civil Designer

“My father, Tim Craven, has definitely been the most influential person in getting me into the engineering industry. Since I was a little girl, my dad (a civil engineer) has always worked on bridges throughout Illinois. As I grew up, my dad would share all kinds of information with my sibling and I about bridges and all things engineering.

When my dad would assist me with homework, no matter the subject, the topic would always be compared or explained to me through his engineering techniques. I can recall multiple family road trips where we took a detour to go check out a bridge my dad wanted to show his family. Over time, I grew up to really appreciate the work that goes into bridges and roads that many travelers often take for granted. My dad’s work ethic and passion for his job is what inspired me to do what I truly enjoy for my career, which just so happens to be engineering too.”

Jeff Halverson

Mechanical Engineer

“I would say my Uncle who is a computer/electrical engineer inspired me at a young age to get me interested in engineering. He would show me what projects he was working on and many times would give me tours of the facilities he worked at so I could see first-hand the atmosphere he worked in, who he worked with, and what he worked on.

I started off college in electrical engineering, but soon realized computer programming and circuitry were not in my future. I switched to Mechanical Engineering thereafter and never looked back.”

Justin Holt

Structural Engineer

“I credit my dad and grandfather with inspiring to take the path I’ve taken. They didn’t nudge me to the sciences per se but they were very supportive of me when I first floated the idea of studying engineering. Yet, when I think about it, they taught me to be technical and prudent in my observations of the everyday. I fondly remember my grandfather teaching me the physics of a curveball, for instance.

They didn’t talk about work often but I remember being fascinated with the blueprints they brought home. My dad, an engineer, my grandfather, a land surveyor; they both had a use for that blue paper. As a kid, looking at those prints, I made my first jump in logic; you can write something down on paper and turn it into something that stands on its own in 3 dimensions. Not only that but you can use those ideas to help people.”

Diana Radcliffe

Transportation Engineer

“My inspiration to become an engineer did not arise from one person or one event. It came from a series of events in the life of a poor farm girl from Eastern Kentucky who had parents who didn’t say ‘No, you can’t become that … profession’ or ‘No, you can’t do that because you are a girl’. I am blessed to have a family who, albeit poor in money, was rich in intelligence, and ambition. They also believed in hard work. They encouraged me, my brother, and my cousins to do well in school, achieve a college education and become a professional in our chosen field of study.  Since I was in Eastern Kentucky, I started on the mining engineering path, but I quickly saw the future for mining was bleak especially in the state, so I was able to branch out to civil engineering”.

A quote I like because I feel it embodies this spirit:

A lot of times I find that people who are blessed with the most talent don’t ever develop that attitude, and the ones who aren’t blessed in that way are the most competitive and have the biggest heart. – Tom Brady, 7-time Super Bowl winner

We All Deserve to be Inspired

We hope this inspires you to take a moment and think about who has inspired you to be who you are. Most of all, we hope it inspires you to be the person that someone else writes about years into the future when they are asked to tell a story about someone that filled them with resolve, set a gold standard, or pushed them to become better than they could ever imagine.