From Student to Professional: A Conversation with Seasoned Engineers

Camille Thompson
Sep 13, 2016 1:08:26 PM

Our recent blog highlighted some of the experiences and lessons learned from our young engineers and recent college graduates. This time, we decided to flip the coin, and speak with our seasoned professionals regarding their experiences since turning pro.

In speaking with a few of our veteran engineers, we quickly discovered that their responses were remarkably similar and on par with what our recent college graduates had to say about their experience of transitioning into a professional engineer.

As with our graduates, we first asked our seasoned professionals if they could describe engineering in one word. PBA Vice President, Bryan Laginess, PE, LEED AP describes being an engineer as ‘dynamic,’ while Greg Ziegler, principal at PBA describes being an engineer as ‘challenging.’ Many of the responses fell in line with how our recent graduates described MEP engineering as dynamic, having perseverance and efficient.

Next we asked our seasoned engineers, what has been their favorite part of going pro so far? Ziegler describes, “As an ESOP firm (or one having an Employee Stock Ownership Program) helping PBA maintain its title (can we say “reputation” here?) of being the largest and most respected MEP consultant in Michigan has been rewarding.” While Laginess describes, “seeing our designs applied in real life,” as a resulting satisfaction of the position.

Looking ahead to what’s to come 5-10 years down the road in the field of engineering, Laginess predicts: “I see the tools we use becoming more sophisticated, providing more assistance in design; also a continued push towards energy efficiency.” Associate, Scott Bilan, PE exclaimed, the future will include, ‘more collaborative projects with contractors to aide in fast-paced schedules. BIM will also be very integral.’  Ziegler sees the next 5-10 years as, ‘becoming more challenging. New regulations, codes and client expectations will require more effort out of budgets that continue to decrease.’

Lastly, we asked our respondents why they might recommend pursuing a career as an MEP engineer to students. Laginess notes the movement of the industry in stating that, ‘it’s never stagnant.’ Bilan also remarks at the diversity within the workflow, stating that, ‘very few jobs are an exact copy. Every project comes with its own set of challenges and responsibilities. Just when you think you have mastered one calculation or system, a new opportunity comes along.’ Lastly, Ziegler cites the opportunities to grow, in stating that it is ‘technically challenging. You learn skills that will lead to greater opportunities for future career advancement, both inside and outside of the engineering field.’

Understanding the ins and outs of MEP engineering takes years of practice. Keeping in mind the challenges and fast pace of the AEC industry, Laginess offers some helpful words of advice for new engineers stating that they should, “volunteer to do as much as they can. Ask why and always think about the next steps, and how the current task will affect those steps.”

Together, with its challenges and rewards, MEP engineering offers a dynamic work environment with opportunities for new and seasoned engineers, to grow and expand their skillset.  If you’re looking for a career that’s never stagnant and is technically challenging, then MEP engineering might be the right move for you. 

Learn more about our fall co-op program and open engineering positions by going to      

To apply for an MEP engineering position at PBA, go to:

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