Working with the caliber of people that we have here is the best part of my job. We collaborate very well and have very talented engineers on board. In addition to working closely with the people within my local group, I really enjoy being able to assist with and participate on projects throughout the firm.
I have stayed at the firm because of the support it has given me in developing my career beyond project work. I've been able to contribute to the profession and helped move it forward. The firm made the commitment to me that I would be able to participate in organizations and on projects related to the larger field of engineering, the way it has made that commitment to many others. Previous research work at Berkeley and my participation in local groups like SEAONC led to my 6-year participation in the FEMA/SAC Steel Project. It was Degenkolb's support that let me pursue such atypical work.
I stay involved in the developments of the field, especially in regards to steel construction. And by interaction with others in the firm who are pursuing new lines of engineering and project management like Building Information Modeling. This is an exciting time to be in our profession. New analysis and project management techniques are strengthening the engineer's position and contributions within AEC community. Because we can predict results more accurately, we are providing better information to our clients. They can make better decisions now, based on what engineers are able to provide. It's exciting to be able to stay on top of these changes and see the results.
I was nearly electrocuted on my first job for the firm. As designers, myself and John Dal Pino, were doing a survey of mechanical and electrical equipment that needed to be braced at the Naval Hospital, Oakland. John was taking pictures and I was taking notes. We had one or two more panels to look at when John’s camera ran out of film. He handed me his flashlight so he could reload. While he did that, I took a look at the last panel. It read "Danger High Voltage" and unlike the others, it was locked. Upon John's urging, I found a small bolted cover at the base of the panel and began to open it up. We just needed to see the base, so that we could figure out how to brace the equipment. With flashlight in hand, I opened the bolted panel when suddenly there was an explosion. After regaining my composure, I realized that I needed medical attention, because my hand and arm were burned. Turns out that last panel was a transformer that converted the power companies 12,000 volts to the hospitals 220 or 110 v needs. The Navy doctors at the hospital, where the power had gone out due to my accident, and at Alta Bates Medical Center where I was sent for final treatment, were amazed that I could stand and walk around. The side effects of the accident left me bed ridden in a dark room for several day because my eyes had been subjected to "instant snowblindness" by the flash of light. When I finally did get back to work, my friendly colleagues quickly gave me a new nick name, Sparky, and I wasn't allowed to go near electrical equipment for a very long time.