This series of articles explores the connection between you as a young practitioner and your civil engineering profession. The inspiring and thought-provoking series is written by Ranjit Sahai, PE, F.ASCE, a principal at RAM Corporation, a consulting engineering firm specializing in traffic engineering design, stormwater facility inspections, and information technology projects. He is a member of the NCS Transportation Committee leadership team and a past president (2013-14) of the National Capital Section of ASCE. To contact him, navigate to THIS page and click Contact Form to send an email.
Your choice of profession determines the medium through which to leave a legacy. For the educator, her medium is the educational system or method. For the physician his medium is the human body. For the programmer her medium is the digital environment. For you, as a civil engineer your medium is infrastructure, i.e. civil works. Every profession produces a material thing, i.e. artifacts for that medium that can outlast the artifact's creator.
When you choose the profession you love, your subconscious focuses your senses to observe even the minutest details of relevant artifacts and its medium, whenever and wherever you contemplate them. This focus coupled with your capacity for logic increases your professional knowledge until you develop the confidence to express yourself through the tools used to create artifacts for that medium.
Ralph Modjeski was born in January 1861 and died in June 1940. He chose the bridge as his artifact and left a legacy as a pre-eminent bridge designer. The bridge design practice he started in 1893 lives on to this day as the firm Modjeski & Masters. The documentary film Bridging Urban America was released in the Spring of 2015. It highlights the vital role of bridges during the massive growth of America’s industry in the early 1900’s. By carrying people and goods across topographical barriers to distant and promising markets, bridges ushered humans to an era of prosperity like no era before the founding of America. The movie includes spectacular aerial shots of many bridges Ralph designed.
As a civil engineer your profession’s medium offers splendor in expression while making human life on earth safer, benevolent, cheerful. Ralph’s life inspires us to: focus our senses, harness our minds, and dream up for our medium solutions to challenges that seem unsurmountable.