Employee Spotlight with Mike Metcalf, PE – Technical Manager
December 6, 2022
Learn about Mike Metcalf, PE’s expertise and passion for structural and bridge engineering in our most recent Employee Spotlight.
Tell us about you and your career: Why are you passionate about your area of expertise?
“I am the Structures Technical Manager (Team Suspension) for our Transportation group in the Civil Department. I started with Ulteig at the beginning of 2022 and have over 13 years of experience in bridge/structural engineering design and project management for transportation projects. My entire career has been on the private consultant side. I’m glad to have found a great home here with Ulteig, my team and the Civil department – we are trending in the right direction.
I grew up in the City of Angels, Los Angeles, California. Go Dodgers! (Sorry, had to get that in.) I received my undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering from California State University, Long Beach. During my last semester, I interned at Jacobs Engineering and was brought on full-time after I graduated. One day, my boss came up to me and said “Hey Mike, we are starting a bridge group, how would you like to be a part of it?” That was the start of my bridge design career and I’ve been doing it ever since.
During college I always thought I would be a structural engineer who designed buildings because there were no bridge courses offered. I like to think my career chose me. Sometimes it really does come down to being in the right place at the right time.
The joy of being a structural engineer is being able to see what you designed come to life. That is rewarding to me, being able to physically see the mark I left on this planet. It is a double-edged sword though, because we are liable for public safety, and I take that very seriously. Thankfully, so does Ulteig and we use plenty of factors of safety in our designs.”
How does your experience help you better understand the regions you work in?
“I have worked on many projects in many states: California, Texas, Colorado, Montana, North/South Dakota, Wyoming, etc. Every state is different in the sense that they all have their own bridge design code, drawing standards and the way they like to do things. The region I serve the most is Colorado, since I live in the Denver area. I have learned that at the end of the day our mission is all the same: We, as a consultant, are striving to provide a quality product to a client in a cost-effective manner.”
What types of projects make you most excited?
“Anything structural. It can be a mega design-build project worth $500 million, or it could be a sign structure foundation worth $10,000. I’m excited about what I will learn, gain from the project and have the ability to pass those lessons learned on to other engineers.”
What trends in innovation and the transportation market make you most excited/concerned for the future?
“Flying cars like Back to the Future! If this becomes a reality, cars will not need to drive over bridges though, thus job security could be an issue for future bridge engineers. I like where the auto industry and Tesla are going with automation. Sitting in traffic sucks!”
What project challenges were you able to overcome? Did you use innovative thinking?
“Every project has some sort of challenge whether it’s technical or management related. I think it’s important to be flexible for our clients and challenge the status quo. I have worked on many mega design build projects and the biggest thing is saving money and shortening schedule using precast concrete elements wherever possible instead of traditional cast-in-place concrete methods.”
How does the projects you work on create value for clients?
“Value… That is an important concept to understand in our industry. How do we provide value? I like to think of it in terms of hamburgers. There are many places to get a good hamburger. Of course, the best hamburger is from In-N-Out (from California, remember). Their motto is “Quality you can taste”. We create Value for our clients in the Quality product we provide, Cost of our services, and the customer Experience. That’s why we have repeat clients, and that’s why people keep coming back to their favorite “hamburger joint.””
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