Engineers Week Interview: Doug Smith
Doug Smith

Describe your typical day. What do engineers eat for breakfast? What do you do as soon as you get to the office? What takes up most of your time? What’s your favorite part of the workday?
Coffee at home! Bagel sandwich & coffee in the car! More coffee at work! šŸ˜‰ If I am in the office and I am on my game, I spend 15 minutes neatening up and filing stuff from the craziness of the last week. But many days I am on the road. When on the road, I get coffeed up and try to do a workout in the morning. Then I get to the office and try to talk to folks and catch up on what is going on in the various offices. I am not sure what takes up most of my time, but I know meetings is a big part of it!

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
My father owned a lumberyard so at one time I thought I would take that over, but he wisely sent me off to college. I originally thought I would be both an architect and a structural engineer, but that was too big of an educational leap, so I ended up focusing on structural engineering.

What has been one of your favorite projects to work on?
Since I was lucky enough to manage multiple disciplines early in my career, and at large companies, I have worked on a great variety of exciting projects. A few of them are: The financial plan for the Louisville Bridges mega-projects, the Port Columbus Airport new Terminal Master Plan, Ohio DOT’s Ironton-Russell Bridge over the Ohio River, the 4-state Dedicated Truck Lanes project, led by Indiana DOT, and more recently, several statewide long range plans.

What is one of the most underrated skills for an engineer to have?
Listening and critical thinking skills. Hands down. If I could name three, Iā€™d add emotional intelligence.

How has the industry changed since you began your career?
Access to information of all sorts has become much more widespread, and the smart folks can turn that into competitive intelligence. The other thing that will simply continue to change, as it does in our personal lives, is technology.

What advice would you give to young people who want to be engineers?
Talk to as many folks as you can who are already in the industry so you learn what a typical day is like ā€“ I am a manager so my day is not the same as the majority of engineers. Your professors and relatives likely know some engineers, and would love to help you. You can take assessments that see if you are well-suited for a profession like engineering very inexpensively on the internet! Try those, too!

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