29 December 2023

Turning Setbacks into Triumphs

I grew up in Rosenberg, Texas, just south of Houston. I was just a kid that loved to play soccer; kicking the ball around as early as learning to walk. Although my passion for soccer remained adamant, I realized that the sport itself would not be my ultimate career. However, it could supply the needs in achieving a college education. I played for development academies such as the Dynamo Academy for years until I was eventually scouted to play for the University of Incarnate Word in San Antonio. And that is where my journey to Site Development truly began.

The University of Incarnate Word was and is not a traditional engineering school. In fact, traditional engineering was not offered as a degree program. I received my degree in what is called “Engineering Management.” Through this program, I received my core engineering classes, but the school itself was not accredited. Ultimately, this meant that rather than applying for my Professional Engineering (PE) license in four years, I would have to wait eight. 

On the surface, it undoubtedly appeared as an inevitable setback, and it would have been easy for me to view it as such. However, being the optimist that I am, I learned to appreciate the extra time and effort I have put into my career for this achievement. Looking back, had I received my PE after four years, I am not sure I would have felt as confident in signing my name to a set of plans and accepting that full responsibility. Today, I have the utmost confidence and am fully prepared for the day I sign my name next to that seal of approval. 

I graduated in 2015 and set out to find my first official job. Competing with graduates from top tier engineering schools, I experienced a little more trouble initially. I got my foot in the door at Park USA in their engineering department. There I worked helping other engineers in producing specialty products, and it was my first introduction into the civil industry. I worked there for about a year until I moved to S&G Engineering and merged in the lane of Site Development, and I have yet to look back. 

As a Site Development Engineer III, it is my responsibility to ensure that all components of a particular site run smoothly—both figuratively and literally. Making sure that the site drains properly, the buildings have water and proper sanitary sewer services and appropriate grading are just a few of the major components that keep a site operational. Unlike larger and more expansive master planned communities, site development has a more narrowed line of focus on individual site locations. 

At EHRA Engineering, our Site Development team primarily focuses on commercial developments: multi-family, apartment complexes, retail centers, etc. We are currently working on a pickle ball social center out in Katy, Texas, and a community center for a Municipal Utility District. 

I am grateful for the experiences I gained in my previous places of work. Working with a significantly smaller company, I wore many hats and was exposed to all moving parts of a project, including project management, design and CAD work. That experience made my transition to EHRA that much smoother. I was able to hit the ground running and immediately take on tasks to help the team where I could.

My favorite part of the job, oddly enough, is nothing short of a stereotypical engineering mindset, problem solving. Weaving through the delicate intricacies of each unique project, coming up with the most efficient and economical solution and capitalizing on the freedom to think and come up with new ideas is both a challenge and an exhilaration. 

In retrospect, from my early days kicking a soccer ball to becoming a Site Development Engineer III at EHRA, my journey has not only fortified my technical skills but instilled in me a profound appreciation for the unexpected turns that shape a career. While the eight-year path to my PE license may have seemed like a setback, it ultimately provided the time and perspective needed to confidently navigate the complexities of my field. To aspiring engineers, I encourage an unwavering hunger for knowledge and a fearless embrace of challenges. Ask the questions; it is how we get better. As my own experiences have shown, every twist and turn are an opportunity for growth and success in the dynamic world of engineering.