Meet Ben Schlachter, an engineer with Parametrix’s bridge and structures group based in Portland, OR. He recently passed the Structural Engineering (SE) Exam and will soon be a licensed structural engineer in Washington State. He became a licensed Professional Engineer in 2016 and is currently licensed in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Montana, California, and Alaska.
We asked Ben a few questions about his career, favorite project, and his journey to earning his SE license.
Tell us about your professional background. What is your area of expertise?
I graduated from Oregon State University in 2012 with my Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and earned my Master of Engineering in Structural Engineering in 2013. I worked for one year at WRK Engineering in Vancouver, WA before coming to Parametrix in 2015. I then spent 3 ½ years in the Puyallup office before moving back to Portland and have been in the Portland office ever since. I work in the Bridge and Structures group and do structural design for both the transportation and water divisions.
What is your favorite project you’ve worked on?
Probably the Redline Extension project for TriMet here in Portland. It has been cool watching the 470-foot-long bridge I designed be constructed over Interstate 84. I was also able to go out to the site when they were picking the steel girders with a crane and watched them perform a midair splice while the girder was still being held by the crane.
What was most difficult about earning your license?
Probably the time it took to study for the test. With the three test cycles I went through, I has been over a year and a half of studying both during lunches and after work.
How did your fellow employee-owners support you through the process?
I have had a lot of support from everyone in the Bridge and Structures group, from words of encouragement to allowing me to hoard all the code references so I could study and take the exams.
What advice do you have for others pursuing their PE license?
It’s okay to fail the tests. These are hard tests so there is no shame in not passing. It took me two tries for each of the two parts of the SE exam to pass. And while it is discouraging to see that you didn’t, having taken the test was valuable in that it gave me a better understanding of what would be asked of me during the test and what I needed to work on.
What do you like to do in your free time?
My wife and I enjoy playing board games and traveling and I recently have been getting into astronomy and astrophotography.