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Rider's Almanac Blog

Engineers reflect on the joy of problem-solving, community building

Posted by Drew Kerr | Sunday, February 21, 2021 8:21:00 PM

Engineers Week (February 21-27) is dedicated to raising public awareness of the important role engineers play in our society. We’re proud to celebrate the engineers who are helping us innovate and evolve through their work. Continue reading to learn more about three Metro Transit engineers and visit the National Society of Professional Engineers website for more information on Engineers Week.

Engineer Carrie Desmond with an electric bus.Carrie Desmond, Principal Engineer

 

Why did you decide to become an engineer?

When I was considering majors before college, I remember wanting to find a field that could incorporate my strong math and science skills while also allowing me to be creative and work with a team. To me, that pointed towards engineering. I also remember thinking that if I could make it through engineering school that would be a strong foundation for any future career choices. Growing up in a large city and dependent on public transportation, civil engineering and ultimately public transit became an avenue to apply my passions for helping others improving our communities.

What is the best part about being an engineer?

Often projects take many years to complete. I love seeing a project when it is complete and knowing that as I visit cities I have worked in and people I have worked with, those projects will stand the test of time. Going down the street and pointing to infrastructure I helped bring to fruition is pretty rewarding.

Why is engineering important to society?

Engineers are problem solvers who create physical solutions to society’s challenges. They are critical to keeping people and things moving, providing shelter, technological advancements and improving our communities.

Claire Warren on the rooftop of the Metro Transit Police & Office Facility. Claire Warren, Associate Engineer

 

Why did you decide to become an engineer?

I grew up saying I wanted to be an engineer. I liked my math and science classes, and I wanted to be a girl in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math). I loved going on manufacturing plant tours with my dad (yes, seriously!) and working on my math practice books during summer break because it was fun to solve problems.

I could never articulate why I wanted to be an engineer until I took a class at college through the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment called Grand Global Challenges. It became clear that engineering would combine my interest in community building, sustainability, science and math – and that I could work on grand challenges in the world like waste management, energy and water conservation, and transportation as a lifelong career! That’s why I became an industrial and systems engineer.

What is the best part about being an engineer?

The best part of being an engineer is asking lots of question and doing research to solve a problem or answer a question. Why does this system work this way? How do we want it to work? What are the current problems? How do people interact with it? Who primarily uses it and why? How do other systems work? Pros and cons? I could go on and on…

Why is engineering important to society?

Engineering is important to society because we will always be building, maintaining and improving the many complex systems that make our cities and communities functional and prosperous. Engineers are here to contribute and collaborate with other disciplines on the grand global challenges of the world!

Ryan Heath at the Hennepin Avenue/Warehouse District light rail station. Ryan Heath, Engineer

 

Why did you decide to become an engineer?

In college, I switched to engineering the minute I realized someone would pay me to plan, design and build things, which had been a hobby of mine my entire life.

What is the best part about being an engineer?

For me, the best part is passing by a project I've worked on or getting data back that shows what I've done has made a difference. When I was an intern at Metro Transit, I designed bus stop improvements and I still enjoy passing the ADA pads and shelters I worked on.

Why is engineering important to society?

We’ll always need to build infrastructure, and engineers will always have a role in planning, designing and constructing our built environment.

(Heath is far left, at the Warehouse District/Hennepin Avenue Station.)

Engineer Luke Sandstrom.Luke Sandstrom, Principal Engineer

 

Why did you decide to become an engineer?

I went to school for a career in healthcare but switched to civil engineering not knowing much about it. The following summer, I took an internship and worked on county road construction projects and absolutely loved it. It was the confirmation I needed that I’d made the right move and that I was really going to enjoy working in this field.

What is the best part about being an engineer?

Being able to take a concept when it’s only an idea in someone’s mind, getting input from people and putting a design on paper, and then eventually building it is really fun and fulfilling.

Why is engineering important to society?

Pretty much everything you see has been touched in some way by an engineer. With transit, it’s encouraging to know that as the Twin Cities grows the need for efficient and reliable transportation options will continue to grow in order to ensure that the region is livable for everyone.

Christine BeckwithChris Beckwith, Project Director/Civil Engineer

 

Why did you decide to become an engineer?

As a daughter of a civil engineer, I grew up watching and helping my dad build things and riding through his construction projects. I knew I was interested in pursuing something in math and science and I settled on pre-engineering when I went to college. That eventually led to civil engineering with an emphasis in transportation, just like my dad, actually! What drew me to civil engineering is that it has such a direct link to helping people and our communities.

What is the best part about being an engineer?

I’ve always had a strong desire to be a part of building things that make a difference in people’s day-to-day lives. I’ve worked on transportation and transit projects all around the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota with Metro Transit and MnDOT, so I’m lucky to be able to regularly see, drive on or ride the projects I worked on. The sense of accomplishment is long-lasting.

Why is engineering important to society?

Civil engineering is important because we contribute to the well-being of society with a commitment to keeping the people we serve safe. Our profession is about solving problems and improving communities.