by Bradlee Maramba
On December 8, 2017, as a recent college graduate, I walked into the offices of JDB Engineering proactively looking for a job. To my surprise, I was actually able to speak with a couple of JDBE executives. After the conversation, I was offered the opportunity to come in for an interview, which occurred two weeks later. The new year began with a job offer, and on February 1, 2018 I began my career as an electrical designer with JDB Engineering. Although it seems like it has only been a few weeks since I started, I am now four months into the job as I write this.
In the short amount of time I have been here, I have learned a lot about the design and construction industry; and there is much more to learn. However, this is not my first time being exposed to construction. During the summer of 2014, I had the opportunity to intern for a large construction company, where I was responsible for site walkthroughs, surveys, and working with drawings for bidding and subcontracting. I also gained hands-on experience with construction through several renovation projects undertaken by my church, including a complete renovation of a 15,000 sq. ft. building.
Generally, people seem to take buildings for granted today, but being exposed to the engineering aspects of construction has given me a deeper insight of buildings and systems. It has also given me a greater appreciation for them because of the amount of work that goes into designing a building. I recently finished a small, simple outdoor pool bar project that required a considerable amount of time because of the amount of detail work it needed. There is much more to just laying out electrical fixtures and equipment, lighting, and wiring on a drawing. There are surveys, meetings, conference calls, code conformance, drawing and model development, coordination, specification writing, and other tasks that go into every project.
Another thing I’ve learned to do is ask questions (after I have done what I could). Being a quiet person, I tend to not say much. But I quickly learned that I need to speak up and ask questions if I am to learn. Through that, I also learned to set aside my pride because I did not want to look like I did not know anything – even though the truth is that I was lacking knowledge. I had to set that aside and step out of my comfort zone to grow and to learn. I do appreciate my coworkers, who are patient with me as I ask them a number of questions throughout the day. I definitely have learned a lot more because they go above and beyond when they answer my questions.
However, of all these things I’ve been learning, I’m beginning to understand that detail is the most important attribute of this industry. It is the reason for all the surveys, meetings, conference calls, code conformance, drawings, models, coordination, and specifications. It is why we have all types of code books to specify how we go about designing a building or system. It is the reason why this title I hold as an “Electrical Designer” exists. One could have the most organized and clean drawing in the world, but missing a single detail could make that drawing void. Missing a minor detail in a meeting could cause major problems in time, money, and other project aspects. I am currently going through a learning period here as I am handed more and more “empty” drawings and with less and less guidance, and I am seeing that I have a long way to go. There is definitely much to learn.
I am so appreciative for this opportunity I have, and am looking forward to more growth and learning here for years to come.