Interview with Principal Design Engineer, David Glasscock
Name: David Glasscock
Current employer: Fluor Corporation
Job title: Principal Design Engineer
Time working in this field: 33 years
How would you describe what you do in your job to a student?
I build 3-D computer models of piping systems that include their material properties and thermal expansion properties. When the pipe gets hot, it expands or grows. When it grows, it creates large loads on the equipment it is connected to. These loads may be large enough to cause the pipe or equipment to fail, causing the pipe's contents to leak. This can result in a fire or explosion, which can cause extreme damage to the client's facility or, worse, loss of human life. As a stress engineer, I determine how flexible the pipe needs to be to perform safely and avoid any potential damage. My tasks include performing calculations, designing special supports, determining the optimal routing of piping systems, understanding client and industry code requirements, and communicating our requirements to other engineering disciplines. I aim to ensure the safe design and operation of piping systems we build for various industries.
How did you become interested in this area of science/engineering?
I have always been interested in how things work. I like to visualize how things work and try to determine how to make things better. As an engineer, I get to visualize, understand, design and figure out solutions.
What are some of the key characteristics that are important for a person to succeed in this type of work?
To succeed as an engineer in this type of work, one needs to be able to think critically and visualize in a 3-D environment. Having good common sense and a hands-on approach is very helpful. An understanding of how to calculate and use formulas is important.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy solving problems and figuring out how to fix something or make it better. Although there are similar designs and concepts on each project I work on, I am always learning something new. I also enjoy going out to the job site to review how the piping systems were built and, with my knowledge and experience, recognize installation problems and provide solutions to fix these problems.
Is there any advice you would give to someone interested in this field that you wish someone had given you when you were starting out?
Before I was hired as an engineer, the person interviewing me told me about all the complex things a pipe stress engineer looks at and needs to be able to consider to determine solutions. I was honest with him and told him I did not have experience with a lot of what he had presented me but that I was definitely interested in it. What helped me out was his response. He said, "Do not worry about what you do not know; we will teach you how to do this engineering work. You just need to be eager to learn".
I said, "I am".
Someone starting out as an engineer needs to know that their education is not complete. Learning is a lifetime experience.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I enjoy spending time with family and friends, cooking, building things, fixing things, and hunting.