The Benefits of Being an Engineer in a Small Town

Born and raised on a farm outside of Pulaski, Tennessee, I always thought my first order of business after high school would be to move to the city. And I did. I attended Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville, Tennessee and later moved to Nashville and worked there for a couple of years. However, the position was not a good fit for me. I knew Richard Holt, the Branch Manager of Sain’s Pulaski office, and he’d been trying to get me to work for him since before I graduated. I originally told him there was no way I was coming back to Pulaski. But things changed, and before I knew it, I was back and starting my job at Sain Associates.

Over the last 20 years, I’ve learned much about myself and being a professional engineer living and working in a small town. A lot of my engineering friends are often jealous of my situation. They know I’m getting great work experience because even though we are in a small town, we are doing design and planning projects that the firms in Nashville and Birmingham do, and I’m living somewhere that fulfills me.

Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages to being an engineer in a small town, so here are just a few.

  • Easy commute. I live out in the country, but it takes me only 12 minutes to get to work, and the worst traffic I encounter usually involves a school bus. Even when we need to drive into Nashville to see clients, we can be there in about an hour, depending on traffic. We can jump on I-65 or US-64 and be in other areas of the state quickly as well.
  • Easy access. We do work for the City of Pulaski occasionally. Our office is across the street from City Hall, which is very convenient. We no longer work for Giles County due to my role as a county commissioner.
  • Community Involvement. It can be a little difficult to participate in engineering societies like the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) or the American Society of Highway Engineers (ASHE), but due to the advancement of virtual meetings, we are able to participate much more. I do a lot of volunteering locally, and it’s often more intimate and personal than what you might do in a larger city. So, whether it’s working with the Giles County Humane Association, the Public Library, or the Tree Board, as I have done, we have a lot of volunteer opportunities and usually know the people we are helping.
  • County Commission. The largest part of my community involvement is serving as a Giles County Commissioner. I’ve been elected twice and served as chairperson of the Budget Committee for the last three years. Without the support of Sain Associates, I would never be able to give back and help my community on this level.

Even though I always said I never wanted to move back to a small town, I’m very happy living in the country with my seven acres, donkeys, dog, and cats.