Prior to this current economic downturn a MAJOR topic of discussion was the lack of civil engineers in the marketplace. It did not matter if I was executing a search for a Project Engineer who was an expert in hydrology & hydraulics and flood control, a Project Manager who understood advanced water treatment, a National Program Manager with P3 or Design Build experience as it related to toll roads or a Land Development Department Head; no matter how you sliced it, the pool of civil engineers was shallow. Engineers at all levels throughout the civil engineering community struggled with same dilemma. They were working ridiculous amounts of hours, weekends included; their employers became stagnant in their plans to diversify into other civil engineering disciplines; and principal level engineers were rolling up their sleeves and cranking out construction plans themselves. When the economy eventually picks up, the civil engineering community will be treading in that shallow pool again wondering ‘where are we going to find the right engineer with the right experience?’
The other evening I was at home watching the NCAA Tournament and a commercial came across the television screen that caught my attention. It was all about traffic and transportation and the technology that is being utilized to help ease traffic congestion, which would help cut down on fuel costs as well as free up more time for people all over the country. The average commute time in most major cities across the United States, according to a Time Magazine report in 2007 is +/- 30 minutes. Many folks I know spend at least 45 minutes each way on their commute. And if there happens to be an accident on the LBJ Freeway in Dallas or the Schuylkill Expressway in Philadelphia, well then you can just forget about getting to work on time or home for dinner. Thank goodness for the hard working civil engineering consultants and DOT engineers who are putting in countless hours and lending their skills to help make the necessary improvements to our transportation infrastructure that will help cut down our commute times and allow for us to do fun things like play with our children, spend time with our friends and families or be able to get to our softball game before the 4th inning…right? But wait…this commercial I saw was not for a consulting engineering firm or a PSA type commercial from ASCE…it was is an IBM commercial.
So, if I am a college student pursuing a degree in civil engineering and I want to specialize in transportation, you can be darn sure I am going to check out IBM. To answer the question as to ‘where are all the civil engineers?,’ maybe they are all working at IBM. Is it even possible to fathom the AECOM’s and URS’ and CH2M Hill’s of the world to advertise in this manner? Are there opportunities for ASCE to advertise like this? Or are those avenues of advertising just a pipe dream for the traditional civil engineering community at large?
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