Most position descriptions for civil or structural engineers tend to focus on technical qualifications and licensure. You have to have so many years of experience in bridge design, a Master’s degree, and P.E. or S.E. license, for example, to qualify for the “senior bridge engineer” post in a consulting or government organization.
But while these things may, in fact, be non-negotiable requirements for the job, they certainly don’t define the kind of person most organizations are really looking to hire: The ability to work as a part of a team (not a jerk), good verbal and written communication skills (so important), and a strong work ethic (read “not lazy or entitled”).
I’m not trying to say technical skills aren’t important — they are. Things have to be done right or we could squander resources or worse, endanger the public. But soft skills are often the qualities that determine the ultimate success of one engineer or another, regardless of the type of organization they work in.
Most organizations don’t do a very good job in terms of selection nor in terms of training for these “other” skills that may be critical to success. Training tends to focus on technical stuff and software — there’s somewhat less spent on management — and then the rest of a typically small organization budget may go to an attempt to teach some of these other things such as communications, etc. I hate to see this because I think we are doing a disservice to our people. We have to help them be more successful.
That’s really why we are here at Civil + Structural Engineer magazine. We are trying to help make you more successful. We do it by providing inspirational stories on engineers just like you — people such as John Kulicki featured in this month’s issue — who, through their work, are helping make the world a better place.
We also have stories on great firms such as Thornton-Tomasetti, where our recently retired editor, Dan Cuoco, hailed from, now with 850 employees in 27 offices around the globe, and articles on projects and technologies from a variety of sectors. And we have ads and announcements from the leading technology providers, insurers, and suppliers to the industry; inspirational and educational articles from our engineering business and management experts; and more.
Enjoy your July 2014 issue of Civil + Structural Engineer. Tell your friends about us. Pass us around. And most importantly, if you aren’t already a subscriber, sign up to get our magazine delivered to your mailbox, in box, or both, every month. We greatly need — and appreciate — your support of our mission to help make you more successful!
Mark C. Zweig