Sandra Biddulph is a structural engineer and a principal at the firm DCI Engineers. Before settling down in Irvine, Sandra worked in both Los Angeles and Seattle and has had a really interesting career journey. She's worked at small firms, co-founded her own practice, and worked on the general contractor side before becoming principal at DCI. She appreciates the art of structural design; watching a project come together, with a tangible finished product that becomes part of our built environment.
In this episode, we talk about what it was like transitioning from project engineer to project manager to principal, what engineers can do to attract more young professionals to the field, and how she was able to balance her work life with her home life.
How Sandra decided to pursue structural engineering
On designing her first project
What it was like transitioning from project engineer to project manager
Letting go and developing trust with younger professionals
On co-founding her own practice
If she ever considered not going back to work after having kids
Realizing modified work weeks are a thing
How she became a Principal at DCI
What it feels like to be one of the few female principals at a structural engineering firm
How the profession can attract more young engineers
What she wishes more architects knew
LIGHTNING ROUND Q&A
WHAT IS ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU HAVE FOR SOMEONE JUST STARTING OUT IN THEIR CAREER?
Ask lots of questions, get to know the profession, and find a mentor.
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU FEEL UNFOCUSED OR OVERWHELMED?
I think the most important thing is to walk away from it for a minute. [Engineers] are problem solvers and it is easy to get too tunneled or focused into something, and if the solution is just not coming to you, you gotta walk away and clear your head - go out, go for a walk, get some air, go for a hike - forget about the engineering task that was consuming your brain and try to let it go.
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU FIND REALLY INSPIRING?
We've been hiring quite a few entry level engineers, and it's great to see this new wave of engineers with all their hopes and dreams, and they help inspire me.
WHAT'S A FUNNY OR INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOURSELF?
I love my dog and I love to do things outdoors...and I brush my teeth everyday!
MENTOR SHOUT OUT! WHO IS SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN A GREAT MENTOR TO YOU?
That would be my friend Blythe in Seattle, who was a working mom and showed me that you CAN make a modified week. She showed me that it could be done, and I was able to model my views on work and family and everything after her. Thanks Blythe!