MS Consultants engineers find interesting work in the valley – Business Journal Daily

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Much of the infrastructure here vital for daily life in the Mahoning Valley bears the hallmark of MS Consultants Inc.

From the water treatment plants providing drinking water to our homes, to the bridge that carries our vehicles safely on National Highway 11, these projects started as a design by the engineering firm’s Youngstown headquarters. .

As part of the Brain Gain Navigators virtual career exploration series, The Business Journal spoke with engineers from MS Consultants about the engineering career path and how students in the region can find rewarding and rewarding careers. by working on community projects. Employees answered students’ questions during a webinar on November 1.

By 2026, the United States plans to add nearly 140,000 new engineering jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Civil engineers make up the bulk at 32,200.

Whether students choose to work for private companies such as MS Consultants, a public entity such as the Ohio Department of Transportation, or as a municipal engineer, employment opportunities are plentiful, says Joe Leson, chief of project at MS Consultants.

“There is currently a shortage of engineers in the market in all areas,” says Leson. “Everyone is looking for the next superstar engineers to bring in and help with projects – everything from [computer aided drafting] from technicians to project engineers, project managers, operations managers. You name it.

Joe Leson, project manager at MS Consultants.

And the field allows a lot of professional growth. The lesson started with MS doing construction field inspections. When he expressed interest in the design, the company transferred him to the water treatment group. Eventually, he continued his career and assumed a managerial position, he says.

“So I had a number of projects under my belt and then I started managing my own projects,” he says.

Project managers oversee a varying number of projects at any given time. Much of their time is spent meeting with clients, collecting feedback from the community and seeking funding, says project manager Steve Preston. Communication skills are essential, he says.

“I often have to run for city councils,” Preston says. “You could spend half your day talking to construction workers. And then you could spend the other half of the day talking to politicians. I would say at least 30% of my job, maybe 40%, is meeting people. “

Since 1963, MS Consultants has been providing civil engineering services in the Mahoning Valley state and nationwide. Local projects include countless roads and bridges, as well as water and sewer systems, municipal construction, urban planning, energy, building systems and architecture.

One of Bill Ruggles’ favorite projects is the Canfield Bridge which crosses over Highway 11. The structural engineer and project manager worked on the bridge, which has Canfield’s name in bold on the side. , easily visible to drivers.

“The most rewarding part of being a structural engineer is seeing our design and our work come to fruition,” he says.

At MS Consultants, the company’s employees – over 80 in Youngstown and some 300 across the company – all do a bit of everything from design to tendering to management. project manager and staff, explains Craig Mulichak, regional operations manager. Every day is different, which is not always the case in large companies where people are specialized.

Mulichak says he is proud of the projects he has been involved in since joining the company in 2010. He has been heavily involved in the planning of the Phelps Street pedestrian bridge project in downtown Montreal. Youngstown. Seeing the residents enjoying the space now “makes you feel good,” he says.

William Ruggles, Steve Preston, Phyllis Schaab, Craig Mulichak, Brian Hughes and Jillian Penman.

Engineers are important to a community, he says, because residents – whether they know it or not – trust engineers for their lives and the safety of their families.

“If you think about how many bridges you’ve crossed today… an engineer designed every part and every part of this bridge to make sure it’s going to last and hold,” says Mulichak. “There are a lot of things that we entrust to engineers in everyday life that you take for granted. “

The company is completing the design of a pedestrian tunnel that will allow students at Jackson High School in Stark County to cross safely under a busy road to a park and amphitheater, said Brian Hughes, chief of transport project.

Hughes was also a project manager for the ongoing Fifth Avenue project in Youngstown, which is part of the Smart2 Network – Strategic and Sustainable, Medical and Manufacturing, Academic and Artistic, Residential and Recreational, Technology and Training.

“You get some satisfaction when they’re done. You can look back and say, “Hey, I’ve been involved with this project since its inception and helped bring it through to its full development,” Hughes said. “We’re there at the start and we’re just turning ideas into realities. “

During Hughes’ 35 years with MS Consultants, the firm provided him with opportunities to expand his career. “MS Consultants has been good to me that way,” he says. “They encourage you to spread your wings and explore different avenues of work. “

Phyllis Schaab recently moved to the role of Director of Quality Management after her previous role as Project Engineer.

“I have to develop and maintain company standards to make sure we put a quality product on every project,” she says. “I can also develop and implement standard procedures to make sure we do our jobs better and faster. “

In addition to her work with the firm, Schaab volunteers with the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley Young Women Mentorship Program.

This is important to Schaab, she says, because engineering remains a field dominated by men. When taking drawing and design or civil engineering classes at Youngstown State University, she says there would only be one or two women in her classes.

“It’s important for me to talk to the girls and tell them where I’m from,” Schaab says. “In the workplace, it’s not as noticeable. At MS, I have never been treated like a female engineer. I have always been treated like an engineer.

Jillian Penman also finds time to volunteer in the community. The graduate engineer assisted at the YSU Physics Olympics and the annual Math Counts event, she said.

Penman received his Bachelor of Engineering degree from YSU this year after completing two internships with MS Consultants. She joined the company full time in May.

Like many of his colleagues, Penman took an early interest in engineering. An affinity for math and science led her to follow the engineering career path under the encouragement of her high school teachers.

“When I was little, I liked to think about things in my head and bring them to life using Legos and other stuff,” says Penman. “So with that kind of state of mind, I was like, ‘How do I do this in real life? And the best field I thought of was civil engineering. Because basically you design something on paper and then it comes to life.

For students interested in pursuing an engineering career, Leson says MS Consultants offers internship opportunities for high school students in their junior and senior years, as well as some internships. He also recommends that students get involved in any STEM clubs that their schools or communities may offer.

After earning a bachelor’s degree, college graduates then must pass a fundamental engineering fundamentals exam, which sets them on their professional path, says Preston.

“Once you’ve passed you have to wait four years and then you can take your professional engineering exam,” he says.

“It takes four years of experience for that. And that allows you to get your state license to practice as a professional engineer, to stamp blueprints. This essentially puts all of the responsibility on you to make sure current projects are carried out. “

For engineering graduates, a starting salary of $ 45,000 to $ 50,000 “is pretty reasonable for the Youngstown area,” he says.

And there are plenty of opportunities for engineers to work locally with MS Consultants, Mulichak says. Most of its departments – from transport structures to land surveyors to construction – are understaffed. The sewage group alone is short of eight to 10 people, he said.

When he was in engineering school, Mulichak remembers a teacher telling him that engineers would be in high demand 10 to 15 years from now. Now, 15 years after graduating from college, he has seen demand increase in recent years.

“There are many different avenues in engineering,” says Mulichak. “So you are not confined to one thing and your everyday life will never be the same again. It will certainly not be monotonous.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.

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