Civil Engineer – Careers in Science and Engineering

Civil Engineer – Careers in Science and Engineering


NARRATOR: Engineer Ken Maschke loves living and working in the city of Chicago. And from Ken’s viewpoint it’s the structures that help bring the city to life. Every day he gets to move to the pulse of a city filled with vitality, or ride, or climb, even skate. MASCHKE: Just in time. NARRATOR: Ken is a licensed civil engineer at Thornton Thomasetti, a world-renowned engineering firm. MASCHKE: Civil engineering is really the jack of all trades of the engineering profession. It includes transportation, structures–what I do– there’s geotechnical, construction, water resources. Together, it’s mostly about the infrastructure that we all use and we live in. NARRATOR: Civil engineering goes back to the earliest days of civilization. If anyone’s responsible for building this country, it’s civil engineers. MASCHKE: Civil engineering is really a people-serving profession, especially when nature throws us a curved ball. When it comes to hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, civil engineers are there to make sure that the buildings, the bridges, and the infrastructure stays operating and stays safe for people. NARRATOR: Ken and his team specialize in structural engineering. MASCHKE: Very simply put, structural engineering is making things stand up. Already in my career, I have worked on a huge variety of projects. I’ve worked on baseball stadiums, football stadiums, practice fields, I’ve worked on high-rises here in Chicago, and even internationally, in Denmark, and in the UAE, in Dubai. The architect usually gives us a pretty picture of the skin of the building. A structural engineer really looks behind that into the guts and the bones that hold up that skin. NARRATOR: The team is on their way to one of Chicago’s most beloved icons. Rising from the ashes, 17 years after the Great Chicago Fire, the Rookery building was completed in 1888. MASCHKE: Many times we get involved with historic construction and trying to preserve it. At the Rookery building, we’re going in evaluating the existing structure and just trying to come up with new ways so that crews can keep it in top shape. MAN: The walls are basic masonry barrier walls and the interior is all steel frames from construction. NARRATOR: In the drawings, the civil engineers see a story of imagination and innovation. MASCHKE: Pretty cool. NARRATOR: Elevators, electric lighting, panel glass windows, fireproofing, features that define the modern skyscraper. Ken has a desk, but you’ll rarely find him there. MASCHKE: Let’s open up the drawings and see if we can find out what’s going on. Looks like there’s a step here, so I’m betting, you see how they have the two beams adjacent to each other, then one of these is going to be high for this part, this bay could have a little more snow load on it. NARRATOR: Then it’s off to a presentation. Remarkably, Ken’s day has just begun. Ken grew up on a farm, so you’d think the big city would mean a big adjustment. But in just a few short years, he has developed a special connection to the city. MASCHKE: One of the reasons I went into structural engineering, it’s because I wanted to be able to show people what I worked on. I’ve worked on that building over there. Here’s another building I’ve worked on; another one on this side of the river. We’ve worked on the Chicago Board of Trade building, too. When I was in high school I didn’t know necessarily that I wanted to be a civil engineer. I was good in math and science, but I think the best engineers are those that are very well rounded and bring together a lot of different ideas. NARRATOR: Some of Ken’s projects involve routine structural maintenance. Others push structural design to the limits. MASCHKE: Imagine putting a 50-storey building on top of Union Station. That’s what structural engineers do. This meant that we need to look at all the existing foundations and the columns, and imagine a way to support the weight of a new structure on top of what it was already there. NARRATOR: What most folks don’t see are the design challenges that Ken has to face. MASCHKE: If a wind gust were to go and hit the building, this is the behavior that it would most likely start to move as. If it moves too quickly or too much, people might get sick, and then there’s no way you could sell space on the top floor. NARRATOR: A city would not be a city without building like these or without rail lines, bridges and roads, water and sewage systems. Things people count on to keep their city working. MASCHKE: There is a lot of work that’s involved with maintaining all of these parts of the infrastructure. And I guess engineers need to be a little more like Clark Kent than Superman. NARRATOR: That’s why civil engineers don’t just work with companies like Ken’s. You’ll also find them in municipal, state and federal government settings, research facilities, and universities. Ken holds a bachelor of science and a master’s of science degree in civil engineering. MASCHKE: Very rarely do I work on anything by myself. But together, that helps us to come up with the best solutions to the problems. NARRATOR: In a sense, their job is to pave the way for the future by incorporating new materials, building techniques, and new ways to save energy. MASCHKE: This is a project that I worked on with some architects, trying to envision a way to use a currently undeveloped site in Chicago. We think the idea that we’re presenting, with green technology, offers a way of the future, how buildings in the future will need to be planned, designed, in order to be more sustainable in our infrastructure and in our cities. NARRATOR: Green ideas like these are changing the way buildings are being built and renovated all over the world. MASCHKE: I think there are so many other difficult questions in today’s day and age dealing with the environmental impact of the building, how to deal with the building’s energy needs. Engineers can be more involved with all aspects of that. Instead of just taking the skin that they give us for granted, let’s go back and try to engineer a better way. NARRATOR: Ken sees Chicago as a living city, ever evolving and ever in need of improvements. MASCHKE: There’s always something new to work on. It’s a wonderful having that feeling that all of your hard work has paid off into something tangible. NARRATOR: As he looks on into the future, Ken can see there is no end to what he can learn and what he can do to help cities like Chicago thrive. ♫MUSIC♫

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    xxHockeyMonkey92xx

    I am thinking transfering to San Jose State under it's Civil Engineering major. Assuming I get it in and complete get my degree, would most civil engineer jobs look like this? Or is this just a special case, because this job looks like a lot of fun!

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    cbmlgia

    Is there a way I can contact you Ken or other engineers you work with to ask some questions about the job? I am in my first year of Engineering at UIUC and am interested in Civil but would love to have some questions answered. Thanks!

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    Calvin Zhang

    dude, that looks like an awesome job, but what if you cannot get that kinda job in a crappier company which builds less interesting stuff?
    Like its darn difficult to get work at a world known engineering firm, they demand you to have all sorts of attributes, which unfortunately not everyone is born with, and would forever be stuck without

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    monsterbeat land

    FYI he mentionned that he worked in uae. Do you know that there is civil engineers vacancies with less than 1000 $ as a monthly salary.imagine someone who studied for 20 years to finally get a salary like that. i dont really know where is the problem.?? the system, the engineers , the business, the ego of humankind, the stupidity of people who accept such salaries and who think that uae is a land of opportunities to work. i was there and i witnessed all of what i said. i am not talking about uae to target it. no at alla even in our home countries we struggle with the same issues as engineers.

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