19 May 2023

A Change for the Better

My life begins in a town called Edmond, Oklahoma, inside metropolitan Oklahoma City. Growing up there as a kid had its perks. In the good ole days as a Sooner football fan, it was exhilarating watching the guys defeat teams like Texas A&M with a dominating score of 77 to ZERO. One day, my dad got a call back for a new job, so we packed up the U-Haul and headed for Houston, Texas in the early summer of 2001. I was quickly ready to head back home after my new Texas teachers kept talking about the news of the lamest football teams. I was a Sooner through and through and these Texas teams could not compare. Nevertheless, I found common ground with my new Houstonian classmates; to make it through grade school as quickly and pain free as possible.

Growing up, my dad had high expectations for my brother and me in school when it came to mathematics. Math had always come easily to me until I reached a roadblock in 10th grade taking PreAP Algebra II. I found myself struggling to understand and falling behind. My dad tutored me at home to make sure I always understood everything. Admittedly, I was the type of student that just wanted to write down notes and go home, but I did try to pay attention in class. Unfortunately, I was falling behind faster than I could catch up.

After school, all I wanted to do was take a nap and play video games with friends. I heavily placed more attention on my Xbox 360 than my homework, and as the schoolwork grew harder, this became more and more evident. My dad is a smart man, but it did not take a genius to recognize I was putting in a minimal effort to learn the material. Frustrations grew to a breaking point when one evening my dad sternly said, “You play that Xbox better than you do math. Just go back to playing your Xbox.” He refused to teach me anything that day. From that moment on, I started asking more questions in class and did not care if I held the teacher up from teaching to explain things to me. I really did not want to hear another lecture from my dad. For the rest of my high school career, I brought home all A’s for every math class, even AP Calculus.

Prior to my college career, my plan was to pursue mechanical engineering. It was the only type I was considering because my dad had always highlighted its breadth and I was planning to follow in my dad’s educational footsteps. At the time I was approaching high school graduation, OU was unfortunately a sports and arts school rather than an engineering school. As life would have it, Texas A&M’s engineering rank was prestigious enough for me and College Station housing was reasonably affordable.

Texas A&M’s mechanical school was flooded with applicants, but civil engineering was my second choice, and I was fortunately accepted into A&M’s civil program. The hardest part about being an Aggie was accepting a mediocre football team, unfortunately still to this day. However, I quickly learned that a football game is not nearly as fun if not standing in the thick of Kyle Field. Anyhow, my advisors informed me that if my GPA was high enough in the following semester, I would likely be able to transfer to mechanical engineering.

My life soon revolved around studying and sleeping. My grades were good, and I was getting excited and ready to transfer. I took a course that following semester as a civil student called “thermodynamics.” I barely passed with a C, and that was enough to make me rip up that mechanical engineering application and throw it in the trash. At this time in 2015, mechanical engineering was notoriously known among students as the hardest engineering department at Texas A&M. I did not want to deal with another “thermodynamics” class, so I decided to call civil engineering home.

After graduating, I started out as a project field supervisor for a small construction company called Raes Construction based out in Atlanta but did a lot of work in Houston. I really loved construction and man I made a lot of friends with the contractors. Things were fun, but I needed to get into engineering at some point. I really wanted a field type engineer position so that I did not have to stare at a computer screen all day—Ironic, since my childhood revolved around playing video games in front of a computer screen. A year later, a buddy in College Station told me about an opening at the TxDOT Bryan District office for EIT’s where I accepted a planning and design EIT position. It was staring at a computer screen, but I guess I eventually got used to that.

People at the TxDOT Bryan office were very nice, and everyone treated each other like family. I later moved to the TxDOT Houston District. The folks at this office were nice too and we were cruising day by day just fine. At this point, everything I was doing in my career was focused on transportation engineering, specifically general roadway design. All state work is designed on MicroStation, and having some AutoCAD knowledge, I quickly picked it up and it is to this day my preferred design software.

I started looking for a change and was applying to various places, but at this time my brother, Mr. Ferdoos, was working at EHRA and he would tell me good things about the company. I wanted to go somewhere knowing that people treat each other like family, similarly to how I felt at TxDOT. After an EIT position opened up in the Public Infrastructure team and two interviews later at EHRA, I excitedly accepted the position. I have learned a lot from folks here already in the year I have been at EHRA so far and feel I have doubled my knowledge in roadway projects. Currently, I am still focused on general roadway design, but have gotten my feet wet in structures and traffic.

Here we are today, Oklahoman turned Texan sitting at a cubicle in EHRA with the best Public Infrastructure team. In this department, everyone is motivated to help one other and makes sure everyone is doing okay on their projects to not get stuck in a bad situation. If you visit us upstairs, you will find us in serious mode killing it on our projects, but you will also find us bantering on each other’s sports teams and laughing, making jokes and enjoying our time while doing it.

I still find contentment in staring at a computer screen all day. I also hold hope for the Aggie football team every year. I broke up with my Xbox a long time ago, but my attention is now devoted to my EHRA laptop. Change can be hard to accept sometimes, whether the choice is ours to make, or the circumstances are out of our immediate control. The importance lies in realizing and accepting that in most instances, it inevitably turns out for the best.