Posts filed under ‘Education’

Are You Delaying Taking the P.E. Test or Getting Another Certification….Why?

Featured Guest Blogger: Anthony Fasano, P.E., CPC, LEED AP
Maser Consulting
Associate Civil Engineer and Certified Professional Career Development Coach
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Read The Career Development Blog – A Newly Created Support Forum for Civil Engineers

 This down economy is providing many of us with some down time due to lack of work.  Whether there is some down time at the office or you are currently unemployed.  What are you doing with that down time?  Why not spend it pursuing a license or certification that will add value to your credentials?

I know many engineers that have the work experience required to take the P.E. test, and have even passed part one of the exam (the F.E.), however they just won’t fill out the application and sit for the exam.  People make all kinds of excuses like, the application is difficult, no time to study, I don’t really need the license because my boss signs the plans, etc.  The same goes for other certifications like the LEED AP.  I hear people saying that the LEED exam takes too much memorization and they don’t have time for that.

In the coaching world, we call these excuses “blocks” because they are blocking you from achieving a goal.  There are two kinds of blocks, interior and exterior blocks.  Interior blocks are things like self-doubt and fear.  For example many people won’t sign up for the test for fear of failure.  They think about what would happen if they failed, what would people think, etc.  On the other hand, people may have fear of passing, yes that’s right passing.  They fear additional responsibilities or attention that they would rather avoid.  So how do you overcome these blocks without a coach?  You can do some self-coaching by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What is holding me back from taking the next step to achieving this goal?
  • What can I do today to help me overcome that challenge?
  • What would my career look like if I passed the test? 
  • How would it affect my salary, my job standing, my family?
  • What will my career look like in 5 years if I pass the test?  If I don’t pass the test?

Write out the answers and be very descriptive and specific.  Then re-read the answers.  Many times seeing the value of the certification in these terms will help to eliminate these inner blocks.

Exterior blocks would be things like time and money.  To overcome exterior blocks you will most likely have to put an action plan together.  For example if you say you don’t have enough time to study, set up a detailed study schedule.  Maybe you study a half an hour each day before or after work or dedicate lunch a few times a week for studying.  If you establish a plan and stick with it, you will eliminate the exterior blocks.

I hope this article was helpful in moving you closer to your certifications, now go sign up for that test!

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civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

November 18, 2009 at 7:16 am 8 comments

10 Ways Social Networking Can Impact Your Business & Career As A Civil Engineering Professional

By Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc.
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC, home of

Remember when musings of the Internet was just a fad?  Remember when the compass and slide rule were irreplaceable?  Remember when the Post Office was relevant?   Well, as it turns out, the  Internet is here to stay; if you have a compass and slide rule you just might get your 15 minutes of fame on PBS’ Antiques Road Show; and I can’t recall the last time I paid bill or sent a hand written letter via snail mail. Compass That said, consider yourself forewarned in regards to the utilization of Social Networking sites LinkedIn (44M+ users), Facebook (250M+users) and Twitter (4.5M+ users), among others – don’t be a naysayer, or you will be left in the dust.  Chances are, if you are reading this, you are familiar with, and hopefully active on, one or more of these technologies.  The key is – how can you make sure your company stays relevant by using them effectively?


1. Recruiting Professionals – Did you see the user statistics in the above paragraph? And those are only the three most popular sites among hundreds.  And guess what?  I suspect there are likely hundreds of thousands of members of the civil engineering community  who utilize these tools and share information. They have put themselves “out there.”   By joining these networks yourself and “working the network,” you will find many outstanding professional candidates, both passive and active.  This topic of recruiting on social networks is quite a robust topic and information can easily be found online, in books or through various seminars.  There are plenty of experts in this area so invest a little bit of time and money to catch you and your firm up to speed.

2. Industry News – Facebook, Twitter & Linkedin all have users and user Twitter Logo Headergroups who will be of interest to you.  You will find that ENR, ASCE, Society of Hispanic Engineers, SMPS, etc all have active users and groups on these sites where news bites and press releases are shared regularly. Also, by connecting with other friends and colleagues within the industry you will often read status updates or tweets in regards to local infrastructure news.

3. Relationship Building – Learn what your colleagues, clients, and potential clients are doing; learn their interests; follow their tweets; make logical and profound comments in response to theirs.  You  can get a real sense of their personality, interests, etc that will certainly assist during face-to-face marketing efforts.

4. Marketing/Branding – Develop a Facebook Fan/Group page with blog entries, promotions, press releases, wins, job postings, awards, charity events, etc.;  tweet these same items; develop a compelling corporate profile on LinkedIn and make sure your employees do as well.

5. Recruiting College Students-This is a “no brainer”.  If you want to reach out to the next generation of civil engineers you need to have a strong corporate brand on Facebook and MySpace for sure.  Join the Fan Page on Facebook!When visiting college campuses for recruiting trips have a couple laptops up and running at your table exhibiting these pages and invite them  to join your pages or groups on line.   Come prepared with business cards that provide the URL’s of your corporate social networking sites.  College students want to work for firms that understand and are avid  users of the web 2.0 technology that they utilize.  85% of college students are active on Facebook, 65% are active on MySpace.  Again, a “no brainer.”

6. Recruiting Boomerangs – How often have you had employees of your firm fly the coup, only to return because the grass was not greener on the other side?  By staying in touch with well respected ex-employees  by Linkedin Logoinviting them to join a group where they will be exposed to all the great news that is occurring with your firm, you are giving yourself a nice advantage above other firms when the time comes that he or she begins to look for a new job.  Firms like URS & Toll Brothers, among others, each have “Alumni” groups on Linkedin.

7. RFP’s – It’s only a matter of time before builders, agencies and architects will be tweeting RFP’s.

8. Professional Growth – By joining Facebook or LinkedIn groups, or by following specific associations or trainers or presenters on Twitter, you can remain well informed of all of the conferences, seminars, blogs, articles and publications being offered that you find relevant in your career.


10. Ignorance is Bliss.  Do not fall into this trap.  These networks are no longer the wave of the future, they are a mainstay.  As a civil engineering professional, by not jumping on board you will become a relic – and this label is not something you or your firm will want to be labeled as as the demand for talent begins to hit the upswing.

As you can see, I intentionally left a blank space after #9 – what might you suggest to fill in that blank?

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civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

August 12, 2009 at 4:06 pm 10 comments

Engineering Ethics… Is There Ever A Question?

By Carol Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC and
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of

Several studies conducted across the world suggest that the majority of engineering failures can be traced to a deficiency in engineering ethics. Specifically, someone was dishonest in their business dealings as they cut corners to save a dollar or keep a project on schedule. Perhaps they evaluated a situation that they were not competent to assess. In either case a failure occurs and an engineer’s ethics are called into question.  Is there ever a grey area when pondering ethics in engineering?

In 1995 thirty-five faculty from across the US and eight undergraduate fellows, gathered to develop engineering ethics resource material across engineering disciplines.  Numerical and ethical problems were developed with the support of the National Science Foundation.  These materials have made their way into many engineering ethics courses.  As I reviewed the civil engineering problems,  I, a non engineer, paused trying to think how to answer the ethical issues. For example, in one scenerio, a new female PE, is sent to a construction site to oversee the construction of her first sealed design (a parking garage).  After a day of heckling, whistling and additional lack of respect from the construction team on site, she returned to her civil engineering office and sought her colleagues/supervisors responses to issues she had confronted.  Getting their input she returned for day two.  Concrete is poured and a delay ensues. She confronts the construction supervisor and advised him that if a delay continues, then the poured concrete will need to be removed to avoid a structurally unsound joint.  The construction supervisor advises her that her inexperience and lack of construction knowledge leaves her with inadequate knowledge to make an accurate assessment in this case. He assures her that the joint will be sound and she is forced to make a decision to continue or place the project on delay. Under pressure she backs down. Guess what happens? Six months later a crack develops where the cold joint was and two years later an earthquake collapses that part of the garage severaly injuring people. The young PE and her company are found liable.

Some good ethical questions come out of this tragedy:  When do you let a new engineer go to a site alone?  There has to be a first time at some point. When she returned after the first day describing the adverse working conditions, should she had been sent back out alone? Should the contractor be held liable also? 

On the CivilEngineeringCentral Group on LINKEDIN, one member commented “if one has been in the engineering industry long enough, properly resolving ethical ambiguities are inevitable.” He so eloquently continues that when confronted he makes an “attempt to resolve any ethical dilemma through thoughtful deliberation first (never acting impulsively), then by calling my local PE Board for advice, who are exceptionally helpful, then finally as difficult as it might be, by confronting those who are central to the dilemma to offer an opportunity to arrive at an acceptable resolution prior to moving forward with reporting a transgression that might have crossed the line.”

The majority of us have an internal compass that moves when we are off center.  When something doesn’t feel right we know it in our gut.  We need to trust our instincts, talk with our mentors and our colleagues and make the good solid ethical choices.  As ASCE so plainly states:   Ethics is a cornerstone of civil engineering practice.

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May 11, 2009 at 8:21 pm 9 comments

MSCE vs. MBA – Let’s Get Ready To Rumbllllle !

By Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc.
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC, home of

The purpose of one pursuing a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering  is to develop a deep understanding and knowledge base specific to the specialization that is chosen (transportation, water resources, structural engineering, etc.). According to a 2005 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the starting salary for a Civil Engineer with a Masters Degree was ten percent higher than what was offered as starting compensation to graduates with a Bachelors Degree.  Obtaining a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering not only leads to  higher pay, but more importantly it shows one’s commitment to their field and is looked upon in a positive manner by the civil engineering community.  

An MBA on the other hand, held by a  Professional Engineer working within the Civil Engineering industry, for some reason is not always looked upon in a positive light…and I cannot quite put my finger on as to why?  MBA students study a wide array of business courses including accounting, finance, statistics, marketing, economics, management and other courses of the like.  By gaining an MBA, one is better preparing themselves for a role in management, which often is not a natural path for the more technically inclined civil engineer. It’s not that it is really frowned upon, but my deduction is that the pursuit and receipt of an MBA by a civil engineer sometimes puts up a misunderstood “red flag.”  In fact, many firms will reimburse their employee’s for coursework towards their MSCE, but not their MBA.

What I have found is that Civil Engineers who achieve their MBA have the best of intentions, but those on the outside looking in sometimes tend to smirk…as if that individual has “sold out.”  For some outsiders looking in,  they view their civil engineering counterpart who received their MBA as someone who is either attempting to get out of the industry altogether, or as a fellow professional who is not fully committed to the civil engineering profession in its purest sense. Or maybe it is that the existing supervisor or potential hiring manager feels threatened.  Because the MBA candidate is unaware of this oft ill willed perception,  they end up over estimating the power, if you will, of their MBA.  They often believe it will swiftly take them to the next level in their career, when the reality is, it will eventually play a role in their career advancement.  This mentality is ESPECIALLY the case for younger engineering professionals who, in the grand scheme of things, have really only just begun to put the brush on the canvas.   Again, their intentions may be good, but occasionally they believe that with just a few years of design experience, and now an MBA, that cube world will be a thing of the past and the red carpet will be rolled out leading to the corner office, only after passing by their newly crowned Executive Assistant.  This of course is not meant to be a blanket statement, but I would be lying if I told you that I did not speak to engineers from time-to-time who think this way.

Talking to hundreds of civil engineers each month for the past 12 years, the above scenario is what I see.  I believe that the pursuit of an MSCE and an MBA are both admirable and advantageous to one’s career.  But after talking to so many civil engineering professionals over the years and reading between the lines during the hiring process, both Masters Degrees can indeed benefit one’s career, but it is a matter of timing.  I am of the school of thought that one should pursue their MSCE first, and then only consider pursuing an MBA after spending a decent amount of time in the trenches.  The pursuit of the MBA should maybe come after one has already entered into the world of department or program management; or at least when they are on the cusp of attaining that level of responsibility.  It is at this level that you will begin to reap the benefits of your MBA.  You can have as many letters as you want after your name, but the way to respect is not solely through those letters, but through your successful technical experience within your trade, among other factors as well.  

How has your MSCE or MBA influenced our career?  If you had to recommend one over the other, which would you recommend?  I look forward to your comments.

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May 7, 2009 at 3:01 pm 36 comments

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