News Stories

Engineers Share Reasons Why They Chose Engineering as Profession

Published March 7, 2017

   Engineers Week 2017 is celebrated every year to recognize how engineers make a difference in our world, to increase public dialogue about the need for engineers, and to bring engineering to life for kids, educators, and parents. 

   Each year, Wilmington District engineers get involved with various schools in the Wilmington area to give students and pupils a realistic explanation about what it takes to become an engineer.  And in local media, civil engineer Tamara Carter Murphy went live on WWAY TV’s Good Morning Carolina to explain the significance of Engineers Week, and how parents and teachers can help steer those students and pupils who have the aptitude for math and science to explore a possible career in engineering.  The following two interviews help explain why to of our colleagues chose their profession and what they encourage parents and teachers to do to help a budding engineer.   

Dr. Greg Williams, Chief of Engineering

I became an engineer because I wanted to solve problems.  I enjoyed math and science in high school. I really wasn’t the best math student, but I enjoyed science and I enjoyed physics, I enjoyed applied math and then realized that I could use that to address problems

How do engineers use math and science to solve problems?

Wrightsville Beach is a good example with this coastal storm damage reduction project. We use math and science to understand the volume of sand that has to be placed on the beach, ho0w often it has to be put on, where the sand comes from, the composition of the sand.  All that goes with how compatible it is with the beach and its ultimate purpose to provide storm damage reduction.  You have to understand the waves and storms that impact the beach. Our goal with these projects through the design. Look at the sloped of the beach, surveying, how long the sand stays on the beach

Who inspired you to become an engineer?

I really didn’t know what an engineer was when I was in high school. I had to learn to figure it out on my own.  I had really good math and science teachers that taught the material in a way that made it enjoyable. So I liked going to class and all the best classes that I ever had in high school all the way through grad school were really directly reflecting on the teachers and their enthusiasm for the subject, even if it was something that I wasn’t really particularly fond of, the teacher that loved the material and that was passionate about the subject it made me like the subject.  My parents are absolutely, fundamentally influential. The teachers and their passion for the subjects and making it interesting are what got me through. If it hadn’t been for them I wouldn’t be here. 

What can parents or guardians do to encourage kids with aptitudes for math and science o consider a career ion engineering?

You know, the question you have to ask sometimes is ‘Do you want to contribute to the better of society?’ You have to encourage them and there are lots of ways you can do that.  I sit down with my kids and ask them what their day was like. I ask them to tell me what they’re studying and then I’ll go over it with them.  I make myself available to answer questions.  And sometimes I can’t answer the questions, but at least I’m engaged with their li9ves. We get tutors for them. I think parents can make schedules and arrangements for kids to go to tutoring after school or during weekends. Find those tutors to encourage kids and not allow them to get discouraged and say to themselves that it’s okay to give up.     

Leslie Bowles-Early, Civil Engineer

Why did you become an engineer?
Bowles-Early: Growing up, my family and I would visit New York City often and I was always fascinated with the infrastructure it offered. I especially enjoyed driving across the George Washington Bridge into the Henry Hudson Parkway and seeing the grand structure of the High Bridge and the “street steps” along the way, next to a busy river. Those structures always captivated me – and still do, to this very day!
Math was always my favorite subject growing up and I knew from an early age that I wanted to do something in that capacity. I was happy to learn that the engineering field would allow me to combine my fascination with structures and love of math in one discipline.

At what age did you know that you were good at math and science, and did you pursue higher levels of math and science through high school?
Bowles-Early: When I was in eighth grade, I began to truly enjoy and appreciate math and science and wanted to learn more. I sought out higher levels of both subjects academically and would pursue activities that encouraged them.

What do engineers do for society?
Bowles-Early: I believe that engineers "keep everything going" – from the roads we drive on, the bridges we cross, to the plumbing in our homes, and the cell phones we communicate with. These great inventions are all possible because of, and stem from, engineering. We provide the foundation of the day-to-day technology and infrastructure we now take for granted -- yet can't live without! I am really proud to work in a field that positively and regularly contributes to society in an on-going basis.

Did your family help motivate you to become and engineer? Do you advise parents of children with aptitudes for upper level math and science to pursue a potential degree in engineering?

Bowles-Early: Absolutely and unequivocally! My family was very supportive in my pursuit of engineering at an early age. My father, in particular, motivated me and gave me the drive to further explore and excel in mathematics and science. He worked as a scientist when I was very young and I would say that this influence, and his passion for chemistry in particular, rubbed off on me. I hope to encourage and influence my young daughters with my passion for engineering. I believe we, as parents, owe it to our children, and today's youth, to introduce them to (and get them excited about) the multi-faceted, influential, and earth-friendly field known as engineering.