A Typical Day in a Consulting Engineering Firm

As a Junior Engineer, your typical day might include:

You start your day meeting with your Project Manager to review the previous day’s progress on the project you are designing. After reviewing options, you agree on the concept for the next phase of the design.

Then you email the other consultants in the design team to let them know about the concept, and advise them that a drawing will be available on the shared file in a couple of days.

You call the client to give them a progress report and tell them about the concept.

For the rest of the morning you do calculations and sketches to flesh out the concept, then meet with the CAD Operator (Computer Aided Drafting) to explain how it needs to be incorporated into the drawings and agree on when the drawing should be ready.

For lunch you might meet your friend working for an architectural firm to find out what they are up to and ask if there is an opportunity for your firm to do the engineering work on their next project.

In the afternoon you visit the construction site where the project you designed a few months ago is being built.

You meet with your firm’s Construction Inspector to review any issues that have arisen since your last visit, then with the Contractor to discuss how to overcome an unforeseen problem that will require a minor change to the design. You make a quick calculation to verify that the Contractor’s suggestion will work, determine if there will be any additional cost, then phone your Project Manager to recommend the change. If the PM agrees, then you issue a change order to the Contractor via your Blackberry, and copy it to your PM and the shared file.

On your way back to the office you stop by City Hall and buy coffee for the engineer that will be reviewing the drawings for your current design. You tell the engineer when you expect to be able to submit the drawings and ask how that will fit in to his/her schedule. You learn that the City is planning to upgrade the street fronting your project, so you ask for your firm to be considered for the design work, and report the information back to your PM.

Back at the office you close out the day catching up on emails, and meeting with the CAD operator to review how the new drawing is coming along.

A typical day as a Junior Engineering Technologist:

You may start your day working with a project manager or senior engineer on specific parts of a design or by working through possible design concepts.

From a less technical perspective, you may find yourself gathering information for a proposal, communicating with contractors, or coordinating with architects and other consults.

You may find yourself as a participant in design meetings or chairing construction bi-monthly meetings for projects that are under construction.

More hands on tasks might include travelling to project sites that are under construction and seeking substantial completion or project closeout at the finalization of projects, or completing site inspections to confirm projects are being built to the design intent as shown in the construction documents.

A project manager may require you to complete the CAD drafting or to check the drafting on a set of plans prior to a submission.

Lunch could involve meeting with other junior technologists or engineers and networking to promote your company or discussing potential project prospects for your company.

After lunch you might have a conference call with other technologists who are working on modifying design standards to make them current or to make them more efficient to streamline design.

You may also complete a site review report or write a Contemplated Change Notice (CCN) for the site you visited in the morning or complete the minutes for the meeting you attended. On completion, you will process the files with your company’s filing system and send any required documents off to the clients.

Next, you may start the CAD drafting and set up for a new project for any design concepts a senior engineer or project manager may have discussed at design meetings.

To round out your day, you will finish by checking your email, reporting to your project manager or senior engineer with the design progress for the project you worked on in the morning.