Since 1951, Engineers Week has inspired the next generation of STEM leaders by increasing understanding of and interest in engineering and technology careers. Parametrix has a vested interest in ensuring a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce.
This week, the engineers of Parametrix share what inspires them, what they enjoy about engineering, favorite projects, advice, and how they are “reimagining the possible”.
Cindy is a Senior Consultant with Parametrix’s Puget Sound Transportation team based in Puyallup, WA. She has been with Parametrix for 24 years.
What inspired you to become an engineer?
My dad was an engineer and I’ve always loved math, science and the ability to understand how things work in the world. As I was finishing high school, I had already decided I was either going to become an engineer or an elementary school teacher (I adore children)… but ultimately decided to take the “easier” career path. 😊
What do you enjoy most about being an engineer?
That has evolved over the years. It used to be seeing my project built in the field and pointing out to others that “I helped design that!”. I love being a part of trying to make the world a better, more functional, and wonderful place. But now I find most enjoyment in mentoring and inspiring the next generation of engineers. It’s HARD when you first get out of school and are learning on the job with very little real-world experience. Having been-there-done-that, I truly enjoy helping and guiding them as they go through much of the same challenges, the same emotions, and the same stressful situations that I had.
Tell us about a project you have worked on and how it inspired you.
This goes back a long way, but I would say the Sumner Commuter Rail Station for Sound Transit. This project was when commuter rail was in its infant stages throughout the Pacific Northwest. I was a very junior engineer and this was one of the first projects where I participated in the interview, worked with architects, and was able to design the entire site from the get-go. It was very stressful and took an intense amount of collaboration with many different groups of people. Under the amazing mentorship and Project Management of Dan McReynolds, I was able to contribute to a project that is used by thousands of commuters and is still going strong, some 20+ years later. It’s made me appreciate the longevity of our work that benefits the community.
This year’s theme is “Reimagining the Possible.” How are you reimagining the possible in your career?
I’ve been in the engineering world for nearly three decades. Over this time, I’ve seen the transportation engineering and design evolve from a focus on strict design guidelines and vehicular mobility to a new mindset that includes active transportation (i.e. non-motorized focus), smart & livable communities, and intelligent transportation systems I never thought possible! When I started, the internet was still new, most people didn’t have cell phones, and now we live in a society where nearly everyone is instantly connected to the world through their phones, their computers, and their computerized cars – the possibilities are endless on how we can utilize these technologies to develop transportation systems that serve everyone!
What advice do you have for the next generation of engineers?
- It’s okay to not know everything and don’t be afraid to ask questions… those of us that have experience, love to share what we know and we want to help.
- Be ready to work hard and know it’s normal to have some very stressful days and sleepless nights… but remember this too shall pass. Engineering isn’t easy but it’s worth it!
- Always welcome new challenges even if they’re outside of your comfort zone – continuing to learn is the only way to continue to grow.
- Keep a great sense of humor and don’t be too hard on yourself. That’s my motto for life in general, beyond engineering.