Engineers Week Spotlight | Mathew Orr, EI | Civil Engineer

How many years of experience do you have as an engineer?

I have almost two years of experience at this point.  I only say this because I’m an engineer, but technically I’m at 1.75 years to the day as I type this.

When/how did you discover that you wanted to become a civil engineer?

Since I was a little kid, I’ve always had a fascination with construction and taking things apart and trying to put them back together.  Throughout school, science and math were always my strong points and I realized engineering was the path for me.  I grew up around engineers as my stepdad was a chemical engineer but it wasn’t until I was applying to college that I settled on civil.  The idea of having an impact that people see and use daily intrigued me, as well as the opportunity for working outside an office environment.

What do you like most about the work you do?

What I enjoy most is the engagement with people that a civil engineer has on a day-to-day basis.  Whether that is with fellow employee-owners, clients, municipal staff, contractors, abutters to a project, utility companies, or just informing the general public of what is going on.  Along with these conversations I enjoy the change of environment that comes with being a civil engineer.  We spend a majority of our time inside, but there are also plenty of opportunities for work outside the office, whether conducting an inspection of a construction site, or walking in the woods on the land of a project yet to be developed. 

What is your favorite/most notable project and why?

This is really hard, but I’d say my favorite is actually a project that I’m currently working on.  It’s a residential subdivision in New Hampshire and it is the largest project I have designed in terms of size so far in my career.  This is also the first project I was able to get experience with road design and on the design of a wet pond for stormwater treatment.  I’ve also enjoyed the challenge of learning the ordinance of a town we don’t work in often and understanding the regulatory requirements and procedure of the NH Department of Environmental Services.  Learning and growth is what I’m here for, and I have definitely been doing a lot of that on this project. 

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about becoming an engineer?

The best advice I can give is if you’re interested in engineering you should take the time to research different companies, schools, and the many different types of engineering.  For instance, there are five core disciplines underneath the civil “umbrella” and each of those can be branched out to their own subdisciplines.  Also, becoming an engineer does not mean you need to excel at math and science.  Engineering has many other aspects, and so long as you can critically think and not be afraid to ask for help when solving a problem, then you will excel as an engineer.