Interview with Structural Engineer, David Hosking

Name: David Hosking
Current employer: Fluor Corporation
Job title: Project Engineer/Structural Engineer
Science Career: Civil Engineers
Time working in this field: 15 years

How would you describe what you "do" in your job to a student?

As a structural engineer I design steel and concrete structures including buildings, foundations, utility bridges, etc. I use computer programs, manual calculations, and code manuals to design these structures. As a project engineer, I coordinate between all the different engineering disciplines at Fluor including civil, structural, architectural, piping, equipment, process, electrical, and more to work together and develop very complex designs.

How did you become interested in this area of science/engineering?

I loved to solve problems and build things. I used to go to my grandpa's to do woodworking and build wooden toys. I loved helping my Grandpa use the tools to shape the wood and put all the parts and pieces together. I had as much fun designing and building the toys as I did playing with them. Then when I got older and learned to use math and science to understand the world and solve problems it all clicked. I have always been interested in how the world works; how buildings and bridges are built and stand tall. That is why I became a structural engineer.

What are some of the key characteristics that are important for a person to succeed in this type of work?

To be successful as an engineer you need to be curious, be eager to learn, and want to solve problems. You need to be inquisitive and want to understand why something works and figure out ways to improve. Then once you learn more about science and math you can use that along with your curiosity to solve complex problems.

Describe a project that you have worked on that was of particular interest to you.

I have really enjoyed my last two projects. They were both pharmaceutical facilities projects that require complex designs and have so many different types of engineers working together to make the process work and fit in tight spaces. Then ultimately, we build something that helps saves lives.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy being able to solve complex problems. That could be a technical design challenge, or it can be finding ways to get a team of different types of engineers to work together to solve the problem.

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?

You will always need to learn. Especially after you are done with schooling. Part of school and learning is figuring out how to learn. School challenges you so you can pick things up quickly later in life. Sometimes the subjects you learn in school may be hard to understand why you need to learn them. But it really is important to develop that ability to find ways to learn because it never stops.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I enjoy wood working. It is fun to build something from scratch. I also love to play competitive sports.

Editor's note: David helped design the 2021 Fluor Engineering Challenge for students.

Free science fair projects.