by Cathleen Jacinto, SE, PE

With the holidays upon us, and as you hopefully find time to recover from recent project deadlines, it is a good time to rebalance. Is there one area in your life you would like to improve upon? Start small. Perhaps reach out to one old friend once a month, or insert a daily task planning session into your calendar.

“A new discipline immediately alters your life direction. You don’t change destinations immediately, but you can change direction immediately.”

The above quote by Jim Rohn is taken from his book Leading an Inspired Life. He defines discipline as “those unique steps of intelligent thought and activity that put a lid on temper and a faucet on courtesy; that develop the positive and control the negative; that encourage success and deter failure.”

He provides three keys to discipline:

1) Awareness of the need to make necessary changes

2) Willingness and eagerness to maintain your new discipline deliberately, wisely, and consistently

3) Commitment in daily life

So start the process of mastering one small discipline. Then move on to another. This places the focus on building your character, your work ethic, and who you are becoming, slowly through small disciplines. As Mr. Rohn states, “whatever good things we build end up building us.”

by Cathleen Jacinto, SE, PE

Young engineers have asked me: “How do I take my engineering career to the next level?”

I like to respond to this question with: “When you are given a new task or new problem to solve, imagine you do not have an engineer in the office more senior than you.”

Ask yourself:

  • How would you approach the problem?
  • What are issues a more senior engineer would consider?
  • Do you need to raise any questions to the external team to confirm assumptions?
  • How does your work impact another team member’s work (internal or external)?
  • Think outside of the box to sketch possible solutions.

Next write a quick outline of how you would approach your problem, and briefly sit down with your senior engineer to confirm your approach. Ask him/her to tell you if he/she would have approached the problem differently, and if you had any missing gaps. Finally, perform the task based on your approach as validated by your senior engineer.

This forces you to think independently and take initiative. Discussing your approach with your senior engineer allows you to discover specific gaps you may have in your method of thinking, and also helps to build trust with your senior engineer. Considering how your work impacts other team members or vice versa reminds you to keep the big picture in mind. Lastly, it could save valuable time in ensuring you are not ‘spinning wheels’. The more you do this, the more you will hopefully decrease the number of gaps in your approach, begin to think and perform like a senior engineer… and in time, you will find you are taking your career to that next level.


About the Author: Cathleen Jacinto, SE, PE, is now helping us grow our SE University program. She can be reached at [email protected]. For more information on her background, see our blog post under “News.”

Most articles I have read on multitasking (trying to do 2 or more things at the same time) say that multitasking reduces your effectiveness. As someone who has tried to multitask, I would have to agree. In addition to becoming less effective, if any of the tasks on which you are working involves interaction with another person, there is the “human” aspect of having that other person feel you are barely paying attention to his or her issue because you are simultaneously trying to work on something else.

I spend quite a bit of time on the phone talking with people and I like to take notes to help me remember the conversation. While it might be more “efficient” for me to take notes on the computer, I don’t, because I do not want the person with whom I’m speaking to think I’m multitasking when they hear the keyboard clicking. Instead, I take handwritten notes and later scan the file into my database.

I will sometimes see on a resume or LinkedIn profile the phrase…”Effective Multitasker.” I think in many cases that portrays the negative image to others that you don’t focus on the particular task at hand. My recommendation would be to NOT put this on your resume or profile. Rather, consider putting something more along the lines of… “able to manage multiple projects effectively.”

For more helpful details on this subject, please see “Exposing the Multitasking Myth: 4 Better Ways to Manage Your Time” from

How much time do you spend in your car each year? Why not take advantage of “windshield time” to improve your skills and knowledge? I learned this idea from Zig Ziglar, who was a well known salesperson and sales trainer, and have found it to be very helpful. (I started implementing this back when cassette tapes were the medium used.)

I must admit that there are times when my 2 children wonder why they get subjected to listening to these presentations, but my hope is that at least some of the ideas will take root in them.

There is an abundance of material available for you to learn from depending on your interests, including technical presentations related to structural engineering.

One of my favorites is “The Art of Exceptional Living” by Jim Rohn. I keep this in my car and listen to it several times a year. Here are a few of my favorite thoughts/quotes from Jim…

– Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better.
– Don’t wish for less problems, wish for more skills.
– You don’t get paid for time, you get paid for the value you bring to the marketplace.

Please email me suggestions of your favorite learning material. For the first person who emails me their personal learning favorite, I will send you a free copy of either Jim Rohn’s CD, “The Art of Exceptional Living,” or Dale Carnegie’s Book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”

In a future article, I will include the suggestions I receive from you.

In the meantime, order something educational for your “windshield time” today, and have a great October!

SE Solutions was pleased to recently present scholarships to two Purdue MSCE-Structures students to help defray the cost of their education. Di Chen and Harsh Nisar were the recipients of the award. This is the third year that SE Solutions has offered the scholarships.

Purdue University MSCE Students and Scholarship Winners Harsh Nisar (left) and Di Chen (right), with SE Solutions, LLC President Brian Quinn

Purdue University MSCE Students and Scholarship Winners Harsh Nisar (left) and Di Chen (right), with SE Solutions, LLC President Brian Quinn 

Di and Harsh anticipate graduating this December and are excited to start their careers in structural engineering.

Di Chen received his BSCE from Tongji University in China, and he will be finishing his MSCE this December (2014). He is interested in finding a position in structural engineering and is open to moving anywhere in the US. Di is an international student and would require work sponsorship at some point in the future (after his initial “OPT”).

Just before Di started college, the Wenchuan Earthquake (also called Sichuan Earthquake) hit China in May 2008 causing immense damage and claiming approximately 90,000 lives while injuring over 300,000. This earthquake hit about 75 miles from Di’s home. Luckily, no one from his family was hurt, but this event was why Di chose to become a structural engineer, and he was involved in the recovery events after the earthquake. Di has a perfect 4.0 GPA in the MS Program at Purdue.

For additional background on Di, please see his Linkedin profile at .

Harsh Nisar received his BSCE from the Indian Institute of Technology at Bombay. He is doing a master’s thesis related to developing an axisymmetric finite element for cylindrical tanks with thermal loads. Harsh will be finishing his coursework in December and hopes to have his thesis finished shortly afterwards. He would like to find a structural engineering position anywhere in the US and his passion is Solid Mechanics. Here is what Harsh had to say about Solid Mechanics…

Solid Mechanics drew me towards structural engineering. As a high school student I was fascinated by the simplicity and universality of the principles of classical mechanics. This has only grown as I’ve gained more insight into solid mechanics, especially with respect to structural behavior. As a structural engineer one works in special cases of a far more general framework of solid mechanics. This generality remains spellbinding. The challenge is in isolating favorable behavior for a system through analysis and enforcing conditions, through design, to ensure favorable outcome.”

Harsh is an international student and would require work sponsorship at some point in the future (after his initial “OPT”). Harsh also has a perfect 4.0 GPA in the MS Program at Purdue.

For additional background on Harsh, please see his Linkedin profile at

Technology exists today that is helping improve the process of shop drawing review. Engineers who utilize the Model Review technology are finding they are improving the quality of their review, in addition to saving time and having more fun. Once implemented, most engineers comment how they would not want to go back to the former processes.

This new process is also increasing the level of collaboration between engineers and fabricators/detailers. It is important to reiterate that technology such as this is simply a tool that facilitates a better way of working, but at the core of this must be the desire from both sides to increase collaboration.

The feedback from engineers who have implemented these new workflows has been very positive. Erleen Hatfield, P.E. and Partner at Buro Happold in New York, had this to say about her experience in utilizing this new technology: “When fabricators are willing to send us models as the shop drawings instead of the traditional 2D paper drawings (we call these ‘shop models’ since ‘shop drawings’ doesn’t really fit anymore) we know the review process is going to go much smoother and significantly faster.”

If you would be interested in learning more about how this technology could help your firm, please visit our Model Review Resources page. You can also contact Brian Quinn, P.E., at 616-546-9420 or by email at [email protected].

I recently saw a great video from a blog post by Craig Jarrow at

I would highly recommend you invest 20 minutes to watch this inspiring talk from Admiral McRaven at the University of Texas Commencement from May 2014…

As I was trying to decide what to discuss for this month’s article, I thought a short quote I have posted in my office would be appropriate. This comes from Dale Carnegie’s book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Dale said he cut this saying out and pasted it on his mirror where he would see it every day. (The author of the quote is not listed.)

“I shall pass this way but once; any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

This is a fairly easy saying to “agree” with, but yet another thing to live it out every day. However, I think pasting it to a mirror or having it somewhere visible where you can see it at the beginning of each day and reflect on it at the end of the day is helpful.

As always, if there is any way we can assist you, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Best wishes to everyone for a healthy and happy October!

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