Thursday, July 29, 2010

Engineering Spotlight: Alisha H., CEE

Name: Alisha H.
Major: Civil Engineering*
Title: E.I.T.**, Bachelor's of Civil Engineering
Company: Georgia Tech...Currently looking for a job...hire me! (Update: Alisha actually has a job now in Nashville, TN)

Why did you want to become an engineer, and more specifically, your particular type of engineer?
I've always been in love with logical concrete solutions. I loved looking at how things were put together and how they stayed that way. Engineering runs in my family. My Dad is a Civil, my Grandpa and Uncle built/designed their own small planes, and my brother has always worked within automotive (including diesel engines). However, I got my love of order and organization from my Mom who is a teacher. I chose Civil because it was the best fit; I was the kid always playing with my brother's Legos and building my own Barbie accessories (tree house, playground, etc.).

What do you do? (At your job or in your research?)
Currently, I am on the job hunt as a recent graduate. My primary interests are in Site Design and Transportation Design. I've also had a couple years experience with a small geotechnical firm in which I designed retaining walls.

Contrary to popular belief you cannot set a building anywhere on a site and expect it to be fine; this is where a Site Designer comes in. A Site Designer takes a site and an idea on location for a building and figures out how to mesh the two by looking at how to move the dirt, where to drain the water, where to run power/water/everything lines, and how to do it with minimal environmental impact.

Do you know road surfaces and traffic signals get designed? Guess what: that's the Transportation Engineer's job. There is so much more involved in roadways than anyone can imagine, so much data is collected and used to run tests.

Finally retaining walls: bet you've hardly ever noticed the walls that hold the road up or hold the hill back so there can be a flatter surface below. These walls are not made up of simple blocks stacked in patterns; no, there is much more behind the surface. There are many types of walls: Cast-in-Place, Modular Block, Baskets, Soil-Nail, Earth Anchor and tons of variations within those. I truly is amazing feat to hold a 40 ft. tall hill with a shopping center on top up and away from a small creek bed with a quiet neighborhood on the other side.

What do you do outside of engineering?
I ride and take care of my horse (sometimes I'm acting Barn Manager at my stable and am in charge of 50+ horses). I design and make most of my own jewelry. I also love to read, spend time outdoors, and create.

Anything else you would like us to know about you or your work?
I truly enjoy and love Civil Engineering. It is a timeless job that we will always need people doing. It can be challenging and a whole lot of fun!

* Technically I'm in the last freshman class that was listed as Civil and Environmental Engineering, before Environmental Engineering got it's own major
** E.I.T. = Engineering-in-Training. This means I passed an 8 hour long exam covering everything I ever learned in college including some stuff I didn't actually learn in college. Passing this test also means that after 5 years of work experience within my degree, I can sit for my Professional Engineering License, P.E.

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