Yesterday, I picked up a Prestige Limousine client in Lake Oswego and took him to PDX for a flight home. As we crossed the Willamette on the Marquam Bridge, we took in the progress of the new light rail bridge being built. He told me that everything, like a bridge, is now built on a computer in the cloud and all sorts of engineering decisions are made there. An engineer can subject the bridge to various loads, make design changes, subject the design to earthquake stresses all on the computer. Because the design is in the cloud, what used to take two to three days for each iteration, even with a powerful computer, now can be viewed instantly or can take as much as a 30-minutes. The cloud substantially decreases the design time, cuts production or manufacturing time, cuts costs and increases safety.
I shared with him the bus charter of children that took us to the new Sellwood Bridge. The children saw from water level the result of shifting a working bridge 30 to 60 feet downstream, so a new bridge could be built in its place. They saw how new piles coffer dams were built and met the engineers working on the project. I doubt if it impressed the children, but I was astounded that most of the civil engineers were women fresh out of college in the last two years. When I grew up, engineers were men.
Big pipe to be used for the new bridge concrete.
Looking up at the old, shifted Sellwood.
My charter bus under the new bridge supports.
Here’s my future career tip: My passenger says his company is looking for female engineers to hire. I failed to ask him why. Maybe women bring a unique perspective to a project; maybe they demand less in salary; maybe it’s good for morale; maybe the answer is none of the above. Whatever, his company wants to hire female mechanical and electrical engineers. All they can get. This is still an area dominated by men, he told me. So if you like to design or build things and you’re a woman consider becoming in demand mechanical and electrical engineers.