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 structural engineers Susan Matzat and Joe Jenkins from our Rochester office.
What was your education in and how long have you been in this field?
Sue: Bachelor of Science from Rochester Institute of Technology, 31 years in structural engineering.
Joe: Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from University at Buffalo, just under 7 years in the field.
What has been one of your favorite projects and why?
Sue: Rush-Henrietta’s Sperry High School gymnasium and the Thurston Ave. Bridge. In both projects we were able to provide a structure that is aesthetically impressive, functional, and has gained many compliments. Something the owner is proud of.
Joe: The NYSEG Rainbow Falls spillway resurfacing project has been one of my favorites. The resurfacing design was challenging, yet interesting and unique. Heading into construction in 2018, this will be one my proudest projects when complete. Not to mention, you can’t beat the views around the Ausable Chasm (look it up) during field work.
What drew you to this discipline?
Sue: It started with a technology class in high school—we were tasked with designing and drawing our dream house.
Joe: Well, I liked math and construction growing up, so put those together and you get buildings engineering!
How has engineering changed throughout your career?
Sue: In the past, cost was not the primary criteria. Technology advancements in design and drawing production have dramatically changed the ways we do things.
How is working at an engineering firm different than you expected?
Joe: What was unexpected was the amount of coordination between disciplines to get a project to the finish line. The communication between departments, and with clients, is essential to how our company functions on a daily basis.
What do you see in the future of your field?
Sue: Continued automation of design, drawing, and construction production. I foresee reduced importance on licensure and struggles with quality, serviceability, and longevity.
What are some of your career goals?
Joe: I would like to eventually take the PMP (Project Management Professional) exam and continue to develop client relationships. I hope to become a mentor to young engineers one day.
What is a personal interest that has nothing to do with engineering?
Sue: Skiing, PTSA, and family.
Joe: Sports, both playing (softball, volleyball, golf) and watching (Go Cubs!).
What do you like about working for LaBella?
Sue: Company culture, great people, diversity of work, and the ability to be creative and have autonomy.
Joe: I love that we have a family-oriented environment. Everyone understands the importance of a work-life balance and LaBella is very accommodating to maintaining this balance.
If not engineering, what career would you choose?
Sue: Originally I would have said singer/performer, but now something that assists children with homelessness and mental health issues.
Joe: I would probably choose business or accounting. A career that involved math or science.
What excites you about working with the next generation of engineers? What advice would you give them?
Sue: They think very creatively and have excellent technology skills.
My advice is to ask questions and talk with as many people as you can to learn from their experience. Even though technology is amazing, the most rewarding experience is the relationships you gain and the stories you can share.
What’s the most important thing your mentor has taught you?
Joe: My mentor has taught me a lot of things, it’s hard to call out just one. If I had to choose, I’d say my mentor has taught me the importance in treating others with respect and kindness. Sue has shown me that making positive impressions and building strong work relationships is a key component to a successful career.