What Is A Consulting Engineer?
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What Is A Consulting Engineer?


Consulting Engineers: Partners For Progress In Designing The Future of Texas

The safety of a bridge support beam, the effi­ciency of a heating system, the purity of a glass of water, the convenience of an interstate high way... these all are made possible by the expertise and efforts of engineers.

The range of engineering services has grown significant in the past 10 years. Hazardous waste clean-up technology and computer-assisted drafting and design (CADD), for example, are new technologies that boost consulting engineers' prob­lem-solving capabilities.

Consulting engineers also are artists in that they mold utilitarian struc­tures and systems into the backdrop of the environ­ment. Graceful bridges arch over deep ravines. Glistening glass buildings rise up out of urban land­scapes. Powerful rushing water plunges hundreds of feet to the base of a dam. And smooth ribbons of roadways wind through quiet countrysides.

Consulting Engineers are Entrepreneurs.

Consulting engineering is a profession similar in many respects to law, medicine and accounting.

Men and women who study engineering in college, then develop expertise in a particular field of engineer­ing, may feel that their experience and talents warrant an independent venture. They may want to establish their own, or join another, entrepreneurial firm.

Practicing engineering in such independent businesses can provide a particularly challenging and creative career path for these skilled professionals. Not only must they be good engineers to succeed, they also must be proficient business managers. They need extensive financial, human resources and marketing skills, for example.

Consulting engineering firms many range in size from a sole proprietor to a multinational firm with hun­dreds of engineers, archi­tects, scientists and techni­cians in several regional offices. The firm may con­tract solely with "owners" of public and private facilities, or may partner with other engineering firms, architects and constructors. The consulting engineer may design an entire project, or be responsible for only one ele­ment of a larger plan.


The Engineering Edge.

Quality is a basic tenet of the consult­ing engineering profession, since to be competitive in the marketplace and to be successful, a consulting firm must be the best in its field. Consulting firms build their reputations on being experts in specific disciplines of engi­neering, thus it makes sense that they should be selected primarily based on this expertise.

The cost of engineering services also is important, but should be a secondary consideration behind qualifica­tions. Engineering design costs typically represent less than one percent of the total life-cycle cost of an average project. Yet an innovative, quality design can have an enormous impact on reducing construction, operation and maintenance expenses, which comprise the other 99 percent.

Hiring consulting engineering firms on an as-needed basis allows large public and private sector clients to keep their costs down by not having to support dozens of permanent in-house design professionals. Clients have the flexibility of hiring only those experts in spe­cific specialties for whatever time they are needed. Consulting engineers give small public and private entities opportunities to develop projects which would otherwise be impossible with their own limited staffs and budgets.


The Critical Role of A Consulting Engineer . . .

A consulting engineer provides expertise and leadership in the planning, design, modifica­tion or rehabilitation of public and private infrastructure. Consulting engineers are licensed pro­fessionals who practice in many disciplines, including civil, structural, sanitary, environmental, mechanical, electrical, geotechnical, chemical, industrial, petroleum and agricultural engineering.

Consulting engineers are involved in designing virtual­ly every construction and renovation project in Texas from highway interchanges, bridges and dams to sports complexes, museums and fine arts venues.

They design ventilation and electrical systems, plan water purification plants and flood control projects and renovate wastewater treatment systems. Consulting engineers solve a broad range of complex environmen­tal and ecological problems.

As catalysts in the problem-resolution process, consult­ing engineers lead teams of multi-disciplined profes­sionals on challenging technical projects. They also serve as expert advisors to local, state and federal gov­ernment agencies, and to private businesses and indus­tries. Consulting engineers serve these public and pri­vate clients from preliminary survey and analysis through final design and construction.


Why is Consulting Engineering Important?

The physical framework that supports our society and makes our lives safer, cleaner and more comfortable is the substance of the consulting engineering profession. It is the consulting engineer who must first design a solution to a problem before it can be corrected.

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ACEC San Antonio Chapter Meeting-08/19/20