Engineering jobs are expected to remain in high demand as 73 percent of employers say they are likely to hire engineers in the next 60 days, according to a recent survey by jobs site Monster.
Despite what has been a sluggish job market, CU-Boulder students and prospective students considering careers in engineering are in for a path primed for plenty of growth opportunities.
“Engineering is one of the fastest growing job sectors in the U.S. with the demand for engineers expected to remain strong for many years to come,” says Joanie Ruge, employment industry adviser to Monster and president of TACK Consulting Inc. “One of the main factors driving engineering job opportunity is a factor of basic supply versus demand. A large number of today’s engineers are baby boomers nearing retirement age, creating higher demand than supply. Anyone just entering college should consider a career in engineering if they want to take advantage of where the jobs are and will be.”
Hiring in the engineering field has been especially strong over the past year, says Jeffrey Quinn, vice president of Global Monster Insights. In fact, 60 percent of respondents say they anticipate hiring to account for necessary staff increases while 54 percent of respondents attribute engineering job growth to company expansion. With this kind of growth and sustainability, CU-Boulder engineering students are in a good position once they enter the work force.
Among the various engineering sectors, civil engineering ranks in the top half for job opportunities, the survey reveals. Engineering job seekers can expect to find the best job markets in Houston; San Jose, Calif.; and Chicago.
With the public’s safety at stake, the CEAE alumnus Ben Nelson says he and his fellow civil engineers have an especially important job.
“Regardless of a person’s country or economic status, people rely on clean water and safe structures,” Nelson says. “It’s a pretty high calling. When a civil engineer does the job correctly, very few people take notice of that. But when a civil engineer makes a design mistake, a structure can collapse, a bridge can fail, or a roof can come in.”
A two-time graduate of the CEAE department, Nelson (BS CivEngr ’84, MS ’88) has taken his talents to Martin/Martin, a Denver-based firm where he specializes in structural engineering. Part of Nelson’s portfolio includes pro bono design work for a homeless in Denver and a battered women’s shelter in Chicago. Nelson and other design professionals and contractors volunteered their labor and used donated materials to create these structures.
“Contributing to a pro bono design for people less fortunate gives me a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment in contributing to something that is so needed,” Nelson says. “Those kinds of projects really mean a lot to many people.”
Nelson, a trombonist, also played with three ensembles for the College of Music during his time at CU-Boulder, and his passion for the arts has carried through his career, he says. Much of Nelson’s portfolio focuses on performing arts buildings, such as the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. With his trained ear, the alum has a better understanding of the design requirements of these unique performance spaces.
Since graduating, Nelson has remained active with the CEAE department as a mentor, guest lecturer, and liaison for his firm’s activities with the university. He’s also had the chance to work on construction projects on the CU-Boulder campus.
“I’ve always had a love of architecture and thought that the university campus was particularly beautiful with its Tuscan vernacular architecture,” Nelson says. “When I was given the opportunity to work on my first project at CU just after I graduated, it was like a dream come true.”
As controversy over hydraulic fracking rages in local communities, Washington D.C., and even in Hollywood movies, CU Environmental Engineering Professor Joseph N. Ryan is leading research to improve the public’s understanding of the real tradeoffs between oil and gas development and the protection of air, water and land resources.
Funded by a five-year, $12 million National Science Foundation grant, Ryan’s team is weighing benefits such as U.S. energy independence and fewer carbon dioxide emissions against environmental drawbacks and developing a framework to help citizens sort through the conflicting information that has left communities in a stalemate over oil and gas development. The project’s first phase, an outreach initiative in Boulder County where heated debates have been causing a stir, has included a lecture series hosted by a diverse group of industry experts at CU-Boulder.
“Once we get that framework with how we evaluate these tradeoffs, we hope to use that as a tool to give people the opportunity to evaluate what would be the effects of new regulations and recommendations for best management practices,” Ryan says. “We hope this will help us move forward without getting stuck between the two sides.”
CEAE professors Karl Linden and Harihar Rajaramare assisting Ryan with this research. Linden’s is examining water safety following the hydraulic fracturing process ways to treat or repurpose the salty fluid left behind. Rajaram is developing groundwater models that show how oil and gas developments could affect the surrounding area which can be taken to a town hall meeting to help citizens visualize the true local effects.
“We feel many people think they’re at this high degree of risk, but they don’t have much information on which to base that concern,” Ryan says. “We hope to provide more information to give them a better idea about what the geology is like and how they could be affected.”
CU-Boulder’s American Society of Civil Engineers student chapter recently took sixth place in the National Concrete Canoe Competition, reviving a tradition and igniting hopes of a good showing when the competition comes to CU in 2016.
After several years without a team, CU ASCE team members had to build the canoe from scratch. Fabricating the canoe required a great deal of experimenting with different mixes of concretes to find one that would float but also provide structural strength.
The students are already planning for next year and focusing on growing student interest among the underclassmen as they look ahead to hosting the 2016 event here in Boulder.
“One of our big goals for next year is centered on recruiting,” says Julia Carroll, a team member and junior majoring in civil engineering. “We want to recruit good sophomores and freshmen and teach them to continue to program, so in 2016 we’ll be ready to go as the host.”
The team also hopes to create a professional advisory board of CU-Boulder alumni as well as procure research sponsors for materials and transportation. Interested parties can learn more and contact the team via the chapter’s website: http://ceae.colorado.edu/asce/.
The CU Parents Association presents this annual award to CU-Boulder teachers, advisers and staff who make significant, positive impact on the lives of undergraduates. These recipients have demonstrated true dedication toward caring for their students.
In choosing the recipients, CU-Boulder students are asked to identify who at the university has made such an influential impact and what they have done to help students. The award is named after Marinus G. Smith, a Colorado pioneer who made asignificant financial contribution and donation of land that made it possible for the university to locate in Boulder.
“What we do matters,” Vásconez says. “Our words, our actions, our time – they all make a difference. The Marinus Smith Award will always remind me of this. I am truly honored to have been one of this year’s recipients. I am grateful to the student who nominated me as well as the CU Parents Association.”