Civil Engineering and Public Service

Posted by on Oct 16, 2018

By: Erin Curry, P.E. 

When I was in high school my favorite teacher was Mr. Billy Hamlett, who taught me Algebra II and Geometry.  At some point, I think in my sophomore year, he suggested I look into engineering as a career.  I did and I never looked back.  I think one reason engineering appealed to me was the chance to help people.  Engineering is defined as the application of science and math for the benefit of humankind.  Further, I think civil engineering is the closest an engineer can get to directly helping out her fellow citizens.  Civil engineers are responsible for safe roadways (which is what I do), safe bridges and building, clean drinking water, and many more services directly related to public health and safety. 

In my experience, many civil engineers are inspired to help their communities on a personal level or through their careers.  I have always enjoyed being an active member of the community going back to high school.  When I moved back to Pulaski in 2003 to work for Sain Associates, I immediately began participating in the community and have continued on the path of service with such groups as the Giles County Humane Association, the Rotary Club of Pulaski, and the tnAchieves mentor program.  I will soon finish my 4-year term on the Giles County Chamber of Tourism and Commerce board – one of the most satisfying groups I’ve been part of.  I’ve so enjoyed being a part of the growth of our downtown festivals – Here’s the Beef and Summer SOULstice.  I’ve also been able to apply my professional knowledge by serving on the Pulaski Board of Zoning Appeals.

The ultimate community service to me is to run for elected office, which I did this year.  I ran for County Commissioner of Giles County, District 1 and was elected to a 4-year term in August.  I’m so fortunate to work for a company that allows and encourages my involvement.  As a civil engineer, I’m a problem solver and that skill should serve me well as a County Commissioner.  It is the nature of an engineer to think logically and analytically, which could enrich the decision making process.  And many of the decisions facing local governments involve technical solutions and could benefit from more technical input and rational thinking.  The Commission committees I’ll be serving on include the Highway and Environmental committees – right up my alley.

Here’s an interesting fact – of the 541 members of the 115th US Congress, there are only 8 engineers.  Imagine how we could benefit at the national level with more technically minded individuals.  I encourage other engineers to get involved in your community or government.  Civil engineering is a fulfilling profession and by adding further community service to our lives, we have the ability to help many people.

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