Join us this week as we celebrate National Engineers Week! Celebrated since 1951, over 70 engineering and educational societies participate each year, along with dozens of corporations. At LaBella, we offer our contributions to the Discover E (National Engineers Week Foundation) mission of:
Celebrating how engineers make a difference in our world
Increasing public dialogue about the need for engineers
Bringing engineering to life for students
Learn more here.
For the past few years we've used Engineers Week as an opportunity to share insights from a few of our diverse group of engineers. This year, in continuation of celebrating our new Powered by Partnership brand, we're presenting some of the internal partnerships that build our engineering team. Each day we'll share thoughts from a senior level engineer, and the young engineer they mentor.
Today, meet Bonnie Fisher (right) and Javier Solis (left) from our Charlotte office.
What was your education in and how long have you been in this field?
Bonnie: Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, North Carolina State University, 30+ years in the field.
Javier: Master of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 4 years in the field.
What has been one of your favorite projects and why?
Bonnie: My favorite projects have been working with small town clients to revitalize old and worn areas of town into new, functional, and attractive places for people to gather and enjoy.
Javier: I’m enjoying the E 5th Street water main replacement project that we're doing right now. It’s a huge step up working in the Central Business District compared to replacing mains in cul-de-sacs, due to the large amount of activity underground from other utility providers and the constant construction that’s happening in Uptown. I’ve had to coordinate with the City of Charlotte, other engineers, contractors, and tenants to enable this to be built in 2019.
What drew you to this discipline?
Bonnie: Initially I wanted to be an architect, and civil engineering was a similar path that I became interested in.
Javier: I like seeing infrastructure get built and repaired so that people and business can come into the city and create more attractions for the City of Charlotte. Liking fluid mechanics over any other structural and mechanical course also steered me towards this discipline.
How has engineering changed throughout your career?
Bonnie: Technology! When I began my career, communication in the field was by two-way radio in city cars. Construction plans were still literally “blue” prints and produced sheet by sheet through a machine reeking of ammonia! And phone messages were written on paper, left on your desk to be returned on the desk phone.
How is working at an engineering firm different than you expected?
Javier: I had a good idea coming in to this profession what engineering would be about. However, I was surprised when working for city projects that infrastructure may or may not get built until 3-5 years out, so I haven’t been able to see what we have designed yet.
What do you see as the future of your field?
Bonnie: Virtual design and construction simulation – offering clients the ability to see a proposed project, to identify problems early, and to make changes virtually before completing plans and beginning construction.
What are some of your career goals?
Javier: I wish to broaden my skills throughout engineering and learn other topics. I feel like I am in an early stage of my career that I can still explore other tasks at the bottom of the pyramid, and work my way up towards the pinnacle and later become a specialist.
What is a personal interest that has nothing to do with engineering?
Bonnie: Genealogy- researching my roots and discovering the family’s history. My grandfather was a construction superintendent building culverts, and some of his ancestors were surveyors. Stories like these and others give an interesting perspective on how we become who we are.
Javier: I have a derivative condition of the “Knack” where I like to piece components together and turn to a real geek when creating new toys. Last year I picked up volleyball on weekends to stay active, and this year I think I am going to focus on my skiing postures and learning how to "pizza".
What do you like about working for LaBella?
Bonnie: The opportunity to design and build a variety of civil projects, working with great people that I consider friends, and serving many fabulous clients!
Javier: Everyone around the offices is really engaged in forming activities to further bond with colleagues when time is available. We have a mentality to broaden the company skillset to perform jobs from several disciplines and get to know people that lead to great partnerships.
If not engineering, what career would you choose?
Bonnie: I’ve considered being an orthodontist.
Javier: I would probably be working for my dad’s firm as an electrician or I would become a broker pursuing real estate investing deals with my sister.
What excites you about working with the next generation of engineers? What advice would you give them?
Bonnie: To see how comfortable and adaptive they are to the ever advancing technologies gives me a lot of confidence that the civil engineering field will continue to grow and excel.
Take time to acknowledge what you’ve accomplished each day.
What's the most important thing your mentor has taught you?
Javier: It’s okay to make “original” mistakes and don’t be afraid to ask questions. We want to deliver our best work to the client, and to do so, we look back at what has been done in the past, and create better solutions for them.