Faculty Spotlight: Civil engineering provides a service to humankind

Posted: May 24, 2016

Civil Engineering instructor Brian Smith says his personal values are the three M’s—Music, Mountains, and Mathematics (and, by extension civil engineering, a form of applied physics). He admires the built environment and large projects, such as bridges, tunnels, dams, canals, freeways and skyscrapers. This is the essence of a Civil Engineering Technician’s job—to assist in the design and completion of such projects.

With nearly 40 years of combined teaching and fieldwork experience, Brian says his major accomplishment was the design of a large freeway interchange in Fresno, California. He has a broad set of interests, including riding roller coasters; mountaineering (two summits on Mount Rainier), and scuba diving. As a classical pianist he performed a piano concerto with the Burbank, California Symphony Orchestra.

  1. What inspires you each day?

The beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

  1. What is your mission at Bates?

My mission at Bates is to promote engineering in general, civil engineering in particular, and to assist students to achieve a high level of accomplishment.

  1. What’s the best part of your job so far?

The campus environment and the students.

  1. What would you say to someone thinking about enrolling in the Civil Engineering program?

There would be some job security and opportunity for advancement; and civil engineering is generally a profession that provides a service to humankind. In addition, the Washington state has in place an infrastructure budget of nearly $20 billion, and that will keep civil engineering technicians busy for years to come. There is the opportunity to work outside in the mud, work in a design office, or both.