On paper, I am a Senior Survey CAD Technician. In reality, who I am, as a person and the work that I do, lies far beyond that measure. I have worked in the oil field, government contracting and mechanical animation, but I have now been in the civil engineering industry for 23 years and have never looked back.
I was hired by EHRA Engineering because of the variety in my experience. Each industry that I have worked in has acted as a steppingstone in my overall career path. I have experienced and learned so much from each one and diversified both my interests and skill set. The oil field was filled with the excitement of getting to experiment with the designs and blow things up, as well as getting a taste of topographic mapping. While working in government contracting, I was a part in designing the first training simulators for the Army. I then worked in animation for six years as a designer, creating animated figures for shows and rides like ET and the characters in Caesars Palace. Because of my technical background in mechanical drawing and machinery, I got to develop prototypes in the machine shop and even learned to mig weld.
I am a quick study and thoroughly enjoy learning new things. When I sought out a more work/life balance while raising a family, I closed the door on designing and returned to my roots of drafting and began my career in the civil engineering industry. I worked for a long-time friend at an engineering firm and began learning surveying and civil engineering. Working with her gave me a lot of platting experience and I got to work on the engineering side drawing up plan and profiles. In surveying, I realized that not every day was the same and I came to really enjoy that.
My children grew up, and I found myself thinking about what I was going to do now. My love of all thing agriculture and country living was not going to pay the bills, it just spends it. It took a lot of talk and time but Charlie convinced me to start the path forward to certification. I had to start studying geometry, algebra, calculus and even English all over again. I am now a Certified Survey Technician, Level III and pushed it one more step to a Surveyor-In-Training. We have five S.I.T.’s in the department but for me it was a lot, because who goes back to school in their 50’s?!
As a Survey Technician, the questions, “What do you do?” and “What is your favorite thing about your job?” are, in my opinion, synonymous. Truthfully, there is great diversity in what my job now entails and in turn, that is my favorite part. Every day is a new adventure, and no two days are the same. I can sit in the office and draw, go out into the field or fly the drone, preferably when the Texas heat is bearable. In Survey we perform topographic, property and other types of surveys. I also develop detailed final plats for signed and sealed approval by a licensed professional surveyor. We bring the surveying data to life in a manner that all the different departments here can utilize.
We take what is out physically on the ground and put it into a format that provides precise information that can be utilized for design and construction. Just about every department uses the survey information we provide.
One of the first projects I worked on at EHRA was Towne Lake. It was only two years old at the time and is now reaching final completion. Like with my children, I have no favorite project. Each one brings its own uniqueness and exciting challenges. We put everything we have into a development and then we roll up our sleeves and begin a new one from the ground up. But the best part of working on any given project, is the team I work on it with. In the downturn of 2008, we were left with a department of only a handful of people. We learned to truly work as a team, educating ourselves on new things to support one another. We have grown substantially since then, but it is still my firm belief that we need to maintain that sense of diverse unity because its value is everything.
I am grateful for the experiences I have been blessed with in my life and the home I have created with my EHRA family. I am excited to see what the future holds for me, and if I have any advice for young professionals, it is this. In a world that has gone virtual, do not forget the power of personal connections and a strong work ethic. They are the tools that will lead you to wonderful experiences and achievements that you never even imagined for yourself.