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RE: License (discussing industry practices in general)

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I’m among those young guys who have a fairly nasty taste of what this industry is like. I have around 6 years experience, 4 that count towards my PE, and I’ve found that not only are there lots of plan stampers and engineers willing to charge next to nothing, but there are a number that are willing to breach safety factors just a little bit more than the current “standard” (i.e. wall stud spacing for wind loading, etc.) to get the clients.  All we’re doing is increasing our liability, and the likelihood of risk to human life, for nearly no money… while I certainly enjoy what I do, I have serious doubts about my future in the industry.  Especially when I consider that drafts-people with half the ability and a fraction of the know-how and ZERO liability get paid the same, and even (albeit in rare cases) higher, than I’ll be expecting in the next several years to come.  That is to say that the idea that I’ll likely be in my forty’s before I start seeing the beginning of an ROI on my nearly 6 years of college, compared to if I had done a 6-month cert in CAD, irritates me a fair bit.  And I’ll have the additional responsibility/liability the whole time…  How did we get to this point?


From: Hemal Modi [mailto:hemalmodi(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 5:04 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: License (discussing industry practices in general)



It was this passion & optimism that intrigued me and motivated me to be a structural engineer. However, with the current economic downturn that almost stopped the construction even in a town like Las Vegas, where construction cost was never an issue and time & quality was always of essence. Having graduated from one of great universities in Texas, I moved to Vegas and have had great success at building structures and have worked with some of best engineers, architects, building officials and contractors


However, as many have noted in this discussion, the engineers have been undercutting and operating at ridiculously low profit margins, if any. It is my understanding that when these companies face the financial crunch the young and aspiring engineers will be among the first ones to loose the job. Unfortunately some of the excellent young engineers are on the verge of leaving the industry due to the absence of work. What I fail to understand is that most employers, who are engineers too, aren't even willing to hire engineers without prior relevant experience. For example, if some engineers has been involved in building design for past 5 years, he wouldn't be considered for a bridge design position or even a structural engineering position in heavy industrial or oil & gas industry. However, I believe that structural engineers are capable of adapting to various trades and transfer the relevant design & analytical skills with the basic understanding of building materials.


Hemal Modi

Stan Caldwell <stancaldwell(--nospam--at)> wrote:


I am going to assume that you will not actually leave the fine profession of
structural engineering.  Over the years, you have written too many
testimonials on the satisfaction that you get in doing design work to
suddenly walk away.  However, if you are seriously planning to leave it
behind, then I sincerely wish you well.

You already know my opinion on the profession from my many posts in previous
years.  Even at the age of 62, I still get out of bed each morning looking
forward to going to the office.  The hours go by quickly as I oversee my
ever-growing structural engineering group ... mentoring on some projects,
cheerleading on others, and trouble-shooting when necessary.  At the end of
the year my compensation always seems to exceed expectations, but Barack
Obama is grateful that I am squarely in his crosshairs.  And in spite of his
best efforts to kill the economy, our backlog is at record levels and


Stan R. Caldwell, P.E., SECB, F.ASCE
Richardson, Texas