The importance of a contingency

HGTV drives me batty with the way they go into projects having spent every penny of the budget without leaving a contingency. This is simply irresponsible.

My wife loves her some HGTV. Home & Garden TV makes home makeovers, renovations and purchasing look easier than putting up a shelf in the garage.

As an engineer, I’m used to putting cost opinions for large construction projects together. It would be considered foolish to not include a contingency in your cost opinion: you may start off with a 30-40% contingency during preliminary design and reduce it to 10-15% when design is complete.

The contingency accounts for the unknowns. It’s not a safety net if something goes wrong; it’s a fund to cover the things that will┬ácome up that aren’t specifically accounted for in the design. Continue reading “The importance of a contingency”

Engineering on a whole new level

Engineering geekery ahead. You’ve been warned.

Been watching The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway about building CrossRail through London and it just puts my job and my perception of “difficult” to shame. The whole manner of undertaking civil engineering in London with its tiny streets, non-stop and uninterruptible traffic, its myriad subterranean utilities and tunnels, and historic buildings and infrastructure makes me embarrassed to put myself in the same category as them.

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My long road to becoming a licensed Professional Engineer

Becoming a Professional Engineer in the States is quite difficult for foreigners, particularly in Florida. Thanks to the state of Texas, I was able to become a PE in Florida and this is my story of how I did it.

I studied Civil Engineering at the University of Brighton having been born and bred in Brighton. As is standard in the UK I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in three years.

While I was at university I met and fell in love with an American who lived in Florida (her name is Marti by the way). Since I was a little more easy-going than her I made the trek to the US rather than the other way around so I now found myself, recently graduated, living in the States.

Work permit and green card issues aside I finally got a job working as a Civil Engineer with Black & Veatch. It wasn’t long before I started investigating what needed to be done to become a professional engineer in Florida. After all, in order to get anywhere in your career it’s somewhat expected/required (as is becoming Chartered in the UK).

As I have a foreign degree the Florida Board of Professional Engineers makes you get your education evaluated, which as I recall, cost about $250. It required getting my university and even my A-level exam boards to send transcripts of all my results directly to the evaluator (they cannot come through you). Several weeks later, I got a letter from them describing all the courses I had taken and how they compare to an ABET degree, which requires 32 credit hours in higher mathematics and basic sciences, 48 credit hours in engineering science and engineering design, and 16 hours in humanities and social sciences.

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