Ryan Landers: Walking a mile in an engineer's shoes

To truly understand the role of an engineer requires spending time in his or her shoes – learning how to apply education in a real-world context. What does it take to become a civil engineer? What does a typical day look like? What is the end result of that work?

Ryan Landers wanted to know.

He found those answers – and a lot more – during a one-day job-shadowing experience at ITD’s Headquarters in Boise recently.

Landers, a sophomore at Cascade High School, worked with Human Resource Services (HRS) staff to schedule a day of professional observation in April. Cindy Fosella of HRS put him in touch with Nestor Fernandez, who in turn helped schedule quality learning time with:

  • Ted Mason (geometrics)
  • Bryan Martin (hydraulics and QPL – qualifications products lists)
  • Mark Wheeler (pavement), and
  • Wayne Hamilton (ITD materials lab)

It proved to be an invaluable educational opportunity, Landers said in a letter to Fosella.

“I know that I definitely want to be a civil engineer for my career choice,” he wrote.

I would like to thank Ted for teaching me the reason why some roads are built the way they are, and what to look for when figuring out where the budget needs to go.

I would like to thank Bryan for teaching me about hydraulics, such as the 10-year flood and the 50-year flood, and how bridges are designed to stay intact during those floods.

I would like to thank Mark for showing me how the Idaho Transportation Department looks at the roads to tell what kind of condition they are in, and for taking me to the building with all of the different labs and test facilities in it.

I would like to thank Wayne for showing me around and teaching me how the asphalt is made and how they test it to see if it would meet the standards.

I would once again like to thank Ted, Mark, Bryan, Wayne and all the others who helped me make the final decision to become an engineer …

Ryan Landers
Cascade High School
Cascade, Idaho

Published 5-17-13