Who says you should only use your engineering skills at work? When we learned about Luis Duque’s story we were instantly impressed. In addition to being a bridge engineer, he’s also the host of an engineering podcast and uses his engineering skills to do volunteer work. Time for an interview to learn more about how he pursues all these different passions.
Let’s start with an introduction. Can you tell us a bit about you and your engineering background?
My name is Luis and I currently work as a bridge engineer in the Denver area. I am originally from Colombia and came to the US to study civil engineering. I have worked in engineering for about four years now and my current job consists of a lot of bridge demolition, temporary structures, and bridge retrofitting which is a really exciting field of civil engineering.
What’s the most exciting part of being a bridge engineer? Is there a specific project you’ve been most proud of?
My work is very unique because we are not really designing new bridges but rather taking them down. I have worked on many unique projects. For example, I’m currently assisting in various aspects of the Golden Gate Bridge wind retrofit and suicide deterrent system. I would say the work at the Golden Gate has been the most unique and exciting so far.
You host a great podcast ‘Engineering our Future’. What made you decide to start this podcast? And who should definitely listen to it?
I really enjoy talking to people and helping others succeed in their career.
The podcast came out of conversations with students and young professionals asking me for career advice. As an introvert, being behind a microphone at home answering those questions was the best option.
Since then, I have expanded to YouTube, interviewing some of the brightest engineers out there.
The podcast is geared towards students and young professionals looking to achieve great things in their careers.
If I’m a new listener, what are your favorite episodes that you would recommend me to listen to first?
I would recommend checking out my list of the top 10 episodes of 2020 on my blog. This year I have talked to some amazing engineers but my top three would be episode 24 about developing an entrepreneurial mindset, episode 28 about how new bridges are connecting millions op people in remote areas, and episode 32 about finding passion in your career.
You also have a blog where you write about different engineering related topics. As a bridge engineer, is there a specific topic that you feel passionate about?
I try to focus on a holistic approach to engineering. Often people tend to focus on the technical aspects but fail to talk about the other needed skills to succeed. I have been slowly putting more effort into the blog and am currently accepting applications for guest blogs. Some of the topics on the podcast that will eventually make it into blog form are finance, getting your first job, writing a perfect resume, finding your career passion, and much more.
As if that wasn’t enough, you’re also a volunteer in numerous organizations.
I am very active with the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Structural Engineering Institute of the ASCE, and Engineers Without Borders. These organizations really sparked my interest in volunteering and are helping students and young engineers all over the world.
The work I do with these organizations is what I truly enjoy the most. With ASCE and SEI I am part of several committees in business practices, leadership, students initiatives and more. On the other hand, with EWB we have various projects in Guatemala where we are providing small underserved communities with clean water.
With EWB I have had the pleasure of working in Bolivia, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, and South Dakota using some of my engineering knowledge to bring this community the help they need. My work with ASCE and SEI is more related to soft skills and creating resources and educating engineers to become successful in their careers.
At Tasker we offer engineers the opportunity to develop their skills by working on challenging tasks for different companies. What’s the most important thing you’re doing to develop your skills and making sure you stay up to date with what the market needs?
At work we currently have a lot of webinars to stay up to date on the most relevant engineering topics. Outside of work, I try to challenge myself with new skills like podcasting, photography, and videography to keep my mind active. I have found that having these hobbies outside of work really opens my mind to new ideas and ultimately I see better performance at work.
Many people reading this are probably wondering how you combine all these activities with your work as a bridge engineer. So what’s your secret to making this work?
My main goal is to find ways where I can provide the most value by simplifying the processes behind them. Most of the volunteer work is a team effort so it doesn’t require as much individual effort as some may expect. For the podcast and blog, right now it’s just me but I am definitely looking to get some help soon. Most importantly, it’s about finding the opportunities that I am really passionate about as well as creating rules and practices that allow me to do all of this in harmony without stretching myself too thin.
Thank you so much Luis for sharing your inspiring career story with us. If you want to know more about Luis, make sure to check out his website Engineering our Future.