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Civil Engineering Overview 

Carlton S. Serrette, E.I.T.

Project Engineer
Malcolm Pirnie, Inc.
White Plains, NY


 
B.S., Civil Engineering, Howard University
M.E., Howard University
"As a Project Engineer, my general duties include hydraulic analyses for pumping systems, preparation of engineering drawings and equipment specifications, engineering and construction cost estimates, preparation of design reports, and coordination of design efforts among specialty (structural, architectural, HVAC, electrical, and instrumentation) groups to design wastewater treatment facilities."
"As a freshman I think you should do a little research and see if this is what you really want to do. If you want to go into engineering try to get internships in the summer to see if this is what you really like, you know it helps a lot. And it will help you decide what you want to do."


"I have a mentor, my supervisor. And right now there are a couple of junior engineers below me that I mentor, so I try to teach them things that happened over the few years that I've been working. So yes, there are certain types of mentorship, you're not left out there to hang and dry, you're always given someone to help you along the way."

"I also do recruiting as part of my job, so I go back to universities to do recruiting, and, you know a lot of people think well we look for the highest GPA, but we don't really look for the highest GPA. GPA it's good but it's not the only thing we look for, see what their interests are, what their goals are and see if it fits in with the goals of the company. So my advice to somebody looking for a job is you've got to be well rounded you know, the books are okay, but you've got to be well rounded and know what you want to do."

"Well, there are a few things that you have to do once you get in, and one of them is getting your professional license. We have to wait a few years, get a few years experience before you get it. I'm in the process of doing my exams to get licensed. As I see once you get licensed there's not turning back you know, the sky's the limit. And you're basically in control of your career, at Malcolm Pirnie there are different areas you can go into, and it's up to you to decide what you want to go into. So it's up to you."

"No there is actually no typical day. It varies it could be you're sitting at your desk writing memos, to get different memos out. It could be you're doing design of a certain system. It could be out in the field. Sometimes in between you know little emergencies, little emergencies come up here and there that we have to drop everything else that you're doing to try to solve these emergencies. So there's no typical day actually, every day is pretty much different from each other."

Q: Tell me what do you like about your job?
Serrette:
I like the fact that we have to solve unique problems, and every problem is unique. We come out into the field we survey to see the different problems, and we have to come up with a way that we can solve these problems. And especially at a plant like this that you have to keep the plant in service, you have to come up with a unique way of solving the problem, constructing and staging in a way that you would not impede the flow and operation of the plant.

Q: Okay. So as a problem solver have you always been interested in solving problems?
Serrette:
I've always been interested in solving problems, and you get that knack from in college. You just like solving problems and this offers you the same thing.

Q: Just going to ask you just a quick question, when did you decide you wanted to be a engineer?
Serrette:
That's a good question. I think from in high school I decided I wanted to be an engineer. It just seemed interesting, I didn't know what type of engineer I wanted to be, but I just knew I wanted to be an engineer. When I got to college I looked at the different areas, and then I decided civil engineering. But a natural environmental engineer I didn't decide I wanted to be an environmental engineer until I visited a plant at school as a field trip and that's when I decided I wanted to be an environmental engineer.

Q: What is it about environmental engineering that you like?
Serrette:
Well the fact of solving these problems about the environment and the waste water treatment. I just liked the fact that if you know all these problems you can solve them.

Q: Do you do a lot of traveling?
Serrette:
There's some traveling involved. We do travel from time to time to go to different manufacturers to test their equipment. And you know a few engineers from time to time have to go out to test the equipment before it actually comes on site, you have to see that it's performing the way you want it to.

Q: What does it take to be successful in this kind of work?
Serrette:
It depends on what you consider successful. Is it successful making money, or is successful designing something that you'd at least see come into operation. For me right now it's seeing my design actually being built and going into operation. That's where I have my fun right now. I think to see something that you put down on paper well thought out from before actual go into construction. A young engineer, as myself where I have a few designs and it's now in construction you get a chance to see the mistakes, not really mistakes, but things that you see that you know you could have done a little better. When it goes into construction you say well maybe I should have done it that way. Success -- to be successful I think it depends, you have to be very conscientious, I think, in the designs and who you're designing for. You know because your client has to be happy with your work. And so you have to be very conscientious in order to be successful.

Q: Do you have a mentor?
Serrette:
Yes. At some point or another you do get a mentor, and I have a mentor, my supervisor. And right now there are a couple of junior engineers below me that I mentor, so I try to teach them things that happened over the few years that I've been working. So yes, there are certain types of mentorship, you're not left out there to hang and dry, you're always given someone to help you along the way. Because we understand that when you come in a company you're a lot of people think that you're expected to know everything right away, you're not expected to know everything. So it's okay to say you don't know.


 


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