Month: April 2017

The Creative Side to Engineering and the Sciences…

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I was inspired to write this article because of the frustration I had with the educational system and its overall approach to educating the general public and more specifically, our younger generation, of the endless possibilities that are available to those who open their eyes to these professions.

My hope is that I can share in my own experiences to help open the minds of our youth, so that they can truly understand and appreciate what makes these fields so amazing. I wanted to show the side of engineering that most people tend to overlook… the side that enjoys the same creative and artistic expression that you would “normally” only expect from a painter, a musician or a photographer. Sadly enough, it goes without reason, that the areas of science in general, do not share in this image of creativity and expression…

With all the technological and medical advances we have made over in the history of the world, including new technologies that our world today cannot live without, it’s hard to imagine why so many people overlook these advances as purely as mere science without creativity and expression… Highly unlikely.

The structural engineering profession is no different. In school, when I was growing up, engineering and similar fields seemed be understood as pure (100%) science with limited room for creativity and expression. However, what was clearly “understood” to most of my peers, was what was REQUIRED of them to excel in these fields. For those of my peers that were not quite as successful in these areas (math and physics), they were “automatically” steered into an easier and more comfortable direction/path.   Maybe things would be different if our educational system focused on teaching not just pure science, but what actually makes these professions exciting, to help to spark their imagination and curiosity…

Instead of learning about the beauty and the possibilities that lie in the structural engineering field – such as our world’s history of engineering marvels… the Egyptian pyramids, the Roman coliseums, our amazing skyscrapers and bridges… We are taught only what tends to make us drift away – the requirements to “make it” in this field… in the case of many engineering fields, to “be smart at math or physics”… What a great way to streer away our youth…

Funny thing I’ve learned about the structural engineering field is that once you learn and understand the fundamentals, you do not need much math and physics after all… Seriously… AND when you do, we have calculators and computers to make our lives much easier.

Don’t get me wrong, structural engineering (theory) is in fact math and physics based, but in actual practice, many engineering disciplines just use what is learned in school as a basis for more formalized building codes. Again, yes, these codes are based off the underlying fundamental theory, but nonetheless, adopted by committee agreement to satisfy an arbitrary factor of safety…

What I’ve found about engineering is that TRUE engineering is more creative than pure science… YES, you have to know the fundamentals, but once you do, then everything else is a piece of cake…

When I talk about engineering as being highly creative, I am referring to those engineers that actively seek NEW and CREATIVE solutions to problems. Yes, I’ve seen my share of “engineers” who wouldn’t know how to be creative if their life depended on it, and who rely strictly on what is “standard” or what has ALREADY been done before… I DON’T call that engineering and I DON’T consider them engineers for the most part… I call that/them being only highly resourceful and knowing where or what to copy…

For those that actually engineer, you all know what I am talking about. We use our background and knowledge in simple engineering fundamentals – more in principles and concepts rather than equations/formulas… to find new and innovative ways to create. Just look around you… these engineering marvels are EVERYWHERE where you least expect them… it’s just that they tend to get unnoticed because of the ease at which they were put together and blend with the environment. You DON’T notice them because they WERE MEANT to be engineered and designed that way… Now that’s what I call pure genius…

Trust me, as a structural engineer I see it everywhere I go… these amazing marvels that spark my own imagination and creativity. And everyday I am amazed at the technological advances we have seen in engineering and in ALL sciences.. THIS IS NOT pure science- it’s the best of creativity at work… You just have to open your eyes to see it and appreciate it… Who knows, maybe one day our educational as a whole will take notice and try to adopt and instill this very way of thinking to our young and impressionable youth…

ZLS Consulting Inc. (c) 2017

 

 

Where did all the Engineers go?…

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In the past, the general engineering profession has always been a popular choice among young professionals.  Today, certain engineering disciplines seem to be experiencing a major shortage, which the industry, in general, is having trouble to sustain.

As an employer in a niche industry, I’ve seen this first hand.  Competition among firms for already experienced and skilled professionals and technical personnel has increased significantly because of the lack of new graduates entering into the workforce. But the numbers of even these very personnel have been shrinking as this generation begins to leave the workforce. And with the lack of new graduates to eventually replace them, the issue becomes apparent on a company’s ability to maintain the same quality of personnel (and quality of work for their clients) for the years to come.

Over the years, the engineering profession has seen a major shift in the numbers of new engineering graduates entering into the profession. Why this is the case is uncertain, but through my own experience and seeing my own kids growing up, I can see a huge disconnect between what kids are being taught in school and the actual REAL world. Focus in our school system seems to have shifted from a more practical to a more technological approach to learning – in my opinion both a good thing and a bad thing. A common problem I see today is the lack of exposure and interaction (and connection) that children have to the REAL world. This type of interaction is important to helping the next generation to “find” their creative interests. The engineering and science professions RELY on this type of engagement for the future, as our children are the ones who will be driving us years down the road. Our children ARE the key to the future, and we need to help guide them so that they can clearly “see” what is in front of them.

We as parents need to help our children develop in a way that helps nurture and open their creativeness. We need to “force” them to put down the IPads and go outside to explore our world the same way our generation did, without the distractions that these “conveniences” bring. When we do, we help to open a world that we are forced to discover on our own… One in which we can experience first hand, interact with and LEARN from. This type of connection is the answer to opening up a “new” world and spark the imagination and creativity of our young, and to  help them to “find” their own path which they can be excited to explore…

ZLS Consulting Inc. (c) 2017

A quick road map to life’s little roadblocks… random thoughts to get you “moving” through the day…

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The road of life is tough. There are too many obstacles around us every day trying to stop us in our tracks… But don’t be discouraged. This is a “normal” part of life…

Drive through these “road blocks”… Or take a detour… There is ALWAYS a way.

STOP driving blind or in the dark… open your eyes and turn on your headlights… YOU WILL find direction and the light…

ALWAYS know YOUR DIRECTION… Use a compass or map to guide you… Create YOUR own road map and FOLLOW it ALWAYS…

Always STAY on the road… Stay on YOUR path… and KEEP ON DRIVING…

And… DON’T run out of gas… Fill up your tank when it’s empty… and keep on going… and going…

Until… YOU REACH YOUR DESTINATION…

ZLS Consulting Inc. (c) 2017

There is NO such thing as “Luck”… only “HARD WORK” in the REAL world…

 

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You hear it all the time… “this person” or “that person” seems to have ALL the “luck” in the world… You know who I’m talking about…  We all probably know someone directly who ALWAYS seems to be in the “right place at the right time”… Sometimes this may truly be the case, but for THE REST OF US, who are not so lucky, there’s still some hope…

I’ve seen it first hand with my own folks… They seem to have this magical touch when it comes to playing slot machines at the casino… my parents seem to have this gift of walking up to any slot machine, putting some money in, and walking away with THE JACKPOT! How I would love to hit even just one small jackpot in my LIFETIME gambling career… wouldn’t we all…

This was my mentality growing up… that luck happens strictly by chance…. I know better now. After watching my parents in action at these casinos, I can tell you now that “luck” is only a small part of the equation. Trust me, you would be a believer after seeing how much  hard work THEY put into “beating up” these machines… My parents “play” those machines with the same intent and ferocity that a fighter has in the ring… I’ve seen my mom literally sit there on front of a machine ALL night long, without sleep (or food), simply because she was 100% convinced that it was going to “hit” any second, and she was not about to let the jackpot go to the next person in line. Funny thing.. as much as I always doubted the outcome, my mom (and dad) ALWAYS had the last laugh… and walked away with the jackpot.

Watching my parents, I realized that what they were able to accomplish in the casino was not luck at wall… Instead, it was really their WILL to win and to ultimately beat these machines that allowed them to be so successful. It was like a game to them. Yeah the reward at the end of the tunnel was always the main motivating factor, but whether they would directly admit it or not, they ENJOYED playing the game, just AS MUCH as they loved winning.

This whole idea was the “edge” that my parents had over the casino. They NEVER gave up and always just trusted their gut and instinct. Even at times when a particular machine won the round, they simply moved on to the NEXT machine until they FOUND the RIGHT one… Some of the “battles” that I’ve seen, MOST other players would have NEVER returned to the game. But no matter how painful a defeat, my parents ALWAYS came back to win.

The type of effort and “fire” that they put into the casino was at the SAME level that we would normally only expect from a professional athlete or even a Fortune 500 CEO.  In essence, my parents were actually PROFESSIONAL slot machine players, who won not because of “luck” but through shear will and determination to succeed.

I believe that it is this same will and determination that is the main driving force behind any successful person or operation.  Throughout my own experience, I have come to realize that “luck” is something that YOU can actually CREATE in YOUR own life.  By this, I mean that by PUTTING YOURSELF in the position and SETTING YOURSElF UP for these opportunities, “luck” is more likely to come your way. And all it takes is to be fully PREPARED and ready to take advantage of these opportunites… and take advantage of YOUR OWN “LUCK”, that you,YOURSELF, have helped create…

ZLS Consulting Inc. @ 2017

 

 

Forget Grades… Experience Makes the REAL Difference to Land that Job…

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Well not exactly… But it makes a HUGE difference…

As a company owner and an employer, I have seen some of the brightest and most intelligent applicants just come short because of their lack of experience they had to show for in the real world…

I’ve seen new graduate applicants with close to 4.0 GPA’s who have been searching for jobs for over a year, and just haven’t had the “luck” to land ANYTHING… As an employer in a niche market, I am constantly searching for new available talent… but in many cases, I find myself in the situation of asking these applicants the very same question – “what experience do YOU have?”…

After discussions with colleagues in various fields, I have come to the simple conclusion that most employers are simply out to find not just the best talent, but the best talent that actually HAS real experience… I found that most employers in highly technical fields would rather pay more money to hire an experienced employee than to hire someone who would require more time and energy to train… What a dilemma that becomes for the majority of new grads who approach the job force with NO experience what-so-ever…

To these applicants, I can only suggest one thing… FIND a job… ANY job – related or unrelated to your profession.  I find that limited or even minimum work experience is much better than none at all, and in the very least, putting yourself in such a position can actually help you to find some direction.

As far as those that are still in college, YOU still have the time to do something about it… Although, during my college years, I did the direct opposite, I can tell you right now, that in certain professions, especially the more technical ones, landing a job and more importantly an internship can mean the difference between having a job straight out of college or being unemployable for years right out of college…

Finding an internship while in college is probably the best advice ANY employer can give to potential graduates… What I’ve found is that most of those individuals that actually take the time do so while in college are more likely to be hired directly by those same employers who they were interning for.  And if not hired directly out of college, these candidates will, in  the very least, be more employable than those without the experience because they now have that direct work experience that employers are looking for… Good luck to all the new grads on the hunt…

ZLS Consulting Inc. (c) 2017

 

 

Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Practice… Understanding Through Simplified Concepts…

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One of the biggest problems I see facing most new grads as they enter into the workforce is their inability to grasp simple concepts related to their field.  This is such a common issue I’ve seen, particularly the engineering professions.  I have seen it time and time again, where these very bright and highly intelligent individuals come in for an interview, but mess it up because they simply can not show their understanding for the simplest of concepts.

But I don’t blame them… I believe the issue lies in the educational system which seems to value  theoretical based knowledge over more practical and simplified concepts.  As a new graduate, I fell under the same problem… and it took me years to finally be able to grasp all these concepts that should have actually been learned in the curriculum.

My dad played a huge role in helping me to see the importance of learning through more simplified concepts. As a new engineer, I was overwhelmed by the pressures of being under the microscope of one of the most accomplished and creative structural engineers I have ever known – my own dad…

Growing up I have seen my dad tackle the biggest and most complicated of structural problems… many of which, I have seen most structural engineers would try to avoid out of exposing their actual knowledge and understanding (or lack of) in the very field that they claim to be so-called experts. Instead, my dad took every problem head on and he found the most creative of solutions to all of them…

Training under his wing, he taught me to look at engineering through a more practical approach.  He explained concepts, not in terms of complicated theory, but in the most simplified and easy to grasp concepts… concepts in which the “average” (non-engineer)  would be able to understand, given the explanation.  He taught me the complexities of structural engineering through the simplest concepts and ideas, which allowed me to finally grasp this theory that would be meaningless without a true understanding of the simple mechanics behind it all.

Today, I do the same with my own… I train my team through the simplest concepts and ideas… ideas to which to an accomplished structural engineer may seem almost laughable at the surface, but which in no means cannot be denied…

ZLS Consulting Inc. (c) 2017

Valuable Mistakes and the Lessons Learned From Them – A Structural Engineer’s Perspective on Life…

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Growing up I never quite understood the importance of making mistakes.  I think as adolescents we tend to equate making mistakes as failure, as we are surrounded so much by life’s pressures that we get confused about the real meaning behind them. Throughout the years, I have learned to accept my mistakes and simply use them as potential learning opportunities.

As a fresh graduate from college, I, like the thousands of other new grads entering into the workforce was excited and eager to experience my new profession head on. I approached it as an opportunity to prove my understanding and “knowledge” and ultimately prove myself to the real world. What a humbling experience that it actually turned out to become…

The countless mistakes I made along the way seemed to be a major road block to successfully “proving myself to the world”. Initially, I took these perceived “failures” as major blows to my ego… And it took some time to actually digest how really unprepared and unqualified for the profession I really was.  But like most others, I continued on and tried to move past these mistakes, and hopefully learn from them…

What I eventually realized was that this situation was not only happening to me, but was a common and normal process for most people entering into ANY new and “uncharted” territory… I began to look at mistakes not as “failures” but merely as obstacles or “minor” setbacks along the journey… Ones that NEEDED to be tackled head on…

As an adult now, I have learned that mistakes are actually important and healthy steps in individual growth.  They help shape and nurture our lives and bring about actual meaning to them, as they give us new meaning and challenges to overcome. With them we become stronger.

As human beings, it’s tough to accept our mistakes, but we have to learn to be able to accept them into our lives.  Instead of being critical of our own mistakes, we need to learn from them.  We need to accept them merely as part of life’s normal challenges, and embrace them so that we can eventually overcome them… And REALLY learn from them.  When YOU do, you will NEVER make the same mistake twice, and will be more successful in everything that you do along the way…

ZLS Consulting Inc. (c) 2017

SPECIALIZED SEMI-CUSTOM RESIDENTIAL & COMMERCIAL DESIGNS – SALE 10% OFF, VALID THROUGH 4/14/17.

SPECIALIZED SEMI-CUSTOM RESIDENTIAL & COMMERCIAL DESIGNS

Bearing Wall Removal w/ New Header & End Column Design (Standard Foundation) – Description coming soon. Some exclusions apply.

Price: $500.00

Bearing Wall Removal w/ New Header & End Column Design (Raised Foundation / “Crawl” Space) – Description coming soon. Some exclusions apply.

Price: $600.00

New Single Family Residence, Single (1) Story, Up to 1000 sf Living Space w/ 2 Garage, 400 sf – Up to 3 Bedroom, 2 Bath. Various design configurations available. Structural engineering and design with Civil PE stamp. Includes applicable calculations. Full size 5 drawings.

Price: $3000.00

New Single Family Residence, Single (1) Story, Up to 2000 sf Living Space w/ 2 Car Garage, 400 sf – Up to 4 Bedroom, 3 Bath. Various design configurations available. Structural engineering and design with Civil PE stamp. Includes applicable calculations. Full size 5 drawings.

Price: $4000.00 (+ $1500.00 for 2 story)

New Single Family Residence, Single (1) Story, Up to 3000 sf Living Space w/ 3 Car, 600 sf Garage – Up to 6 Bedroom, 4 Bath. Various design configurations available. Structural engineering and design with Civil PE stamp. Includes applicable calculations. Full size 5 drawings.

Price: $5000.00 (+ $1500.00 for 2 story)

Please check back for updates. Thank you. – ZLS Consulting Team

ZLS Consulting Inc. (c) 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Real Estate Inspection Services by Trained Professionals…

Home buyers beware… When doing your due diligence in purchasing of a new (older) home, make sure to have the best home property inspector take a look at the property first. Trust me, you want to make sure that he/she is able to find the property’s “problem” areas or any issues regarding the property BEFORE you decide to go further. In doing so, you can eliminate any potential headaches AFTER moving in…

What’s equally as important is the potential “bargaining chip” that a complete and thorough home inspection can provide. Proper home inspections can offer either a means to “back out” of a deal or even to renegotiate for potential credits to the home buyer.

The sad truth about most real estate property inspectors is that they are usually not trained to properly address a property inspection. Many of these individuals often just use templates and follow a generic checklist to identify common “visible” issues. But this process may completely overlook the REAL problems that may ACTUALLY exist…

So next time you are on the house hunt, ALWAYS get a professional who can get the job done right…

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Check our website : http://www.mystructuralengineer.com to get a FREE property home inspection checklist / template for all of you who would rather do it yourself..

ZLS Consulting offers the highest quality real estate / home buyer inspection services at the most affordable prices:

Southern California – General Residential Property Inspection (“Home Buyer” Inspection) 

Residential inspection performed by trained professionals to help prospective home buyers determine the general condition of a property before purchasing. Includes general property inspection and condition report. Currently offered only in Southern California area (with more areas to follow).

Price: $425.00 (+$0.50 per mile each way – call or email for more details)