For my community connections assignment, I chose to interview Kurtis Spence.
Kurtis Spence is a structural engineer at the engineering company of Wood. He is very determined to always try his best. He has been involved in many projects and as of recently he has just finished designing a building in Chile. As a structural engineer, Kurtis must do the calculations for building to make sure they are designed properly and are up to code. He also does verify the seismic safety and many other aspects that may concern the overall structure. Almost all buildings involve a structural engineer in some sort of way.
Now, the reason I chose Kurtis is because he was one of the people that really inspired me to go into engineering. That’s why I chose Kurtis to really guide me on that path so that I can achieve that dream one day. He was very kind and responded to these questions with very well thought out responses. In addition, I have also always been interested in things such as math and physics. I have always loved that aspect of building something ever since I was young. I would always try to help my dad assemble something or to repair something around the house.
Here are his answers to the questions :
1. Why are you passionate about your job?
” I always had an interest in construction and math, so engineering was just a good fit for me. I also found that as I worked in the field more and more, I would become more passionate and more proud about different aspects of my projects. I feel that this is because you really start to understand the intricacies of the field, and you are no longer just going along with things. At the end of the day it is still a job and there is things you like about it and things you don’t like about it, but I find this career really can challenge me in different aspects that keeps things interesting.”
2. What obstacles have you faced to get you where you are today?
“There are a couple of major obstacles that new engineers will face right away. One is actually getting in and completing the education requirements. Engineering is a competitive field and I know a lot of people who had to work to actually get into the program. Then after that, even more people had trouble completing the program. It requires a lot of work and people have to be prepared for that. Another big issue that people face today is actually getting a fulfilling job. The field is quite saturated right now, and every position is getting dozens of applications from quality candidates all over the world. To get a job you really will enjoy, you compete with the best in the field and have to show you are better. This means you will get looked over a lot in finding positions.”
3. What advice would you pass on to someone interested in what you are doing?
“Always work hard, all the little extra stuff someone does really makes a difference in the long run. Even just following your interests like playing sports or an instrument will set you apart from a lot of people.
Don’t give up if you face obstacles, just stay positive and do everything you can to get past them.
Ask people for help and make yourself known. This can be in high school, university, or even in the workplace. If people know you and know your face, they will be more likely to help you get scholarships, find work, and advance in your career.
Try to exceed people’s expectations, but don’t overdo things. It’s good to do things well and surprise people, but if you burn yourself out constantly trying to impress everyone it will backfire.
Learn from your mistakes, don’t try to justify them. Everyone makes mistakes, this can be big or small, but learning from them is important in high school and university, because mistakes in engineering can put people’s lives in danger.”
4. Would you be open to further contact from Riverside students and if so, how can someone contact you?
Absolutely, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
5. What was the inspiration to become a structural engineer? Was there anyone that inspired you?
” I honestly had plans to work in engineering or construction ever since I was 6 or 7 years old. I always wanted to build things and try to understand how things worked. Ever since then there was a lot of back and forth on what field I wanted to go into. Originally I wanted to go into aerospace engineering, but later decided on civil and focused on structural. There is a lot of things over the years that will influence the decision of what field. It might be classes, or career prospects, or just having dreams of working on something cool like robots.
I actually knew a lot of different engineers growing up. My dad is an engineer and was a big help to me when I was deciding what field I wanted to focus on. He helped to give perspective on career prospects and job opportunities. Other engineers I knew also helped to give some perspective or just helped to give me general knowledge on the field itself.”
6. Was this job the one that you always wanted to do or was there another that you were interested in first?
“As I said I originally wanted to go into aerospace engineering, because the thought of planes and rockets seemed like a great idea. At the end of the day though, I think that was just what seemed “cool” and not what I had a real interest in. I went into structural because there is a certain satisfaction in seeing what you built and walking through a room and saying “I made this”. It really is a unique feeling.”
After this interview, I was feeling a lot more motivated to pursue engineering. Kurtis is the type of engineer I strive to become in the future. Of course, as Kurtis described, it will be challenging for everyone as it is a very competitive program. However, I believe if you have the passion for it and the dedication to do what it takes, I feel those obstacles can be overcome. Kurtis has really helped me see that.
Below I have some pictures that Kurtis has sent me himself regarding what he does at his job daily:
These are some examples that Kurtis sent me. These are some of the things he does at his firm. Due to the quality, the pictures aren’t very visible however most of us probably wont understand any of it. Though, if all goes well I will be the one creating these. These pictures are calculations for things such as Rebar and seismic data from different areas. Kurtis does use Excel a lot for spread sheets to create these calculations.
Below are pictures Kurtis sent to me from his most recent project, a Pipe bridge designed to place electric equipment on. Kurtis must ensure that the structure will be able to withstand the weight of the electronics and make sure that it will stay stable. As it may seem like no difficult task, it is in fact still a challenge and something that must not be underestimated as it could possibly hurt someone or cause damage if it is not carefully designed. The same goes for all things designed in engineering.
Wood. “WoodPlc.” Google Search, Google, www.google.com/search?q=woodplc&tbm=isch&ved=2ahUKEwiv0puh0-vnAhUTNH0KHTZBC0UQ2-cCegQIABAA&oq=woodplc&gs_l=img.3..0i10l10.1997.3634..4474…0.0..0.68.450.7……0….1..gws-wiz-img…….35i39j0i67j0i10i67j0.eG6oGeeTPFs&ei=o4VUXu_0EZPo9AO2gq2oBA&bih=969&biw=1920&rlz=1C1CHBF_enCA877CA877&safe=strict#imgrc=j0I5TkakYj-TlM.
Wood. Building Photo:
Google Search, Google, www.google.com/search?q=wood%2Bplc%2Bdowntown%2Bvancouver%2Boffice&safe=strict&rlz=1C1CHBF_enCA877CA877&hl=en&sxsrf=ALeKk00TASYwBinbvaOn7IMkflO0Vy4Hrw%3A1582841197397&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjly7n63vLnAhWKv54KHVxvAIAQ_AUoA3oECBYQBQ&biw=1920&bih=969.
All other pictures are from Kurtis Spence :