From Playgrounds to Plan Sets – The Evolution of a Career in Civil Engineering

David Doxtad, PE
November 3, 2016

Engineers have a tendency to be pigeon-holed into the Type-A population. How many times have you heard, “oh she’s an engineer, a numbers person”, or “he’s more detail-oriented?” While both statements may be true some (or most) of the time, the truth is engineering requires a lot more than number crunching and applied science. Case in point: A career in modern day civil engineering.

After receiving his Rising Star Under 40 award from the La Crosse Tribune, we had a chance to sit down with Will Kratt, PE, and discuss the evolution of engineering, STEM curriculum, and impact that his present role plays in the community while achieving his professional goals.

Have you always wanted to be in the A/E industry?

When I began pursuing my career as an engineer, I had chosen the profession largely because of my personal interest in STEM programs at school. College was pretty much the same. The funny thing is, while I still enjoy that aspect of my work, it constitutes a very small amount of my day-to-day responsibilities.

But if it’s not all STEM, what is civil engineering all about?

Civil engineering is all about community building; politics, networking, and relationships are at its core. I have the privilege to work with people from all different kinds of background not only here in Wisconsin but across the Midwest. For me, I love that my job as a civil engineer allows me to work right here, within my own La Crosse community, alongside individuals and organizations truly invested in the futures of their cities and neighborhoods. For engineers starting out in their careers, this can come as a bit of a surprise, but a positive one.

Understanding the impact civil design has on everyday life, how do professionals translate those needs back into quantifiable engineering solutions?

I think it’s important that A/E professionals push one another to think critically, creatively, and act with accountability not only for the strength of their individual firms but for the public and clients we all serve. Whenever I think about it, I keep coming back to a popular term in civil engineering, “livability”, which refers to the balance of life, work, and play. Once you have a clear vision of the end goal for a community, it’s just a matter of exploring potential engineering solutions and finding creative ways to apply them to each unique project. That’s where we civil engineers get to flex our STEM expertise in the application.

What’s it like getting to see those applications come to life in your community of La Crosse?

La Crosse is by no means a small town, but it is just small enough that positive actions made with intention can have rippling, measureable, and long-lasting effects on the community. As a Wisconsin native, I was excited to return back to my roots and have been proud of the positive changes I have helped spur right here in La Crosse. I think other professionals in this field would agree that the opportunity to find professional AND personal fulfillment each day is the most rewarding aspect of our work.

Join the Conversation #CivilEngineering #RisingStar #STEM #ISGLaCrosse

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David Doxtad, PE
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