7 Sins of a Project Engineer

by CASEY BELL, Aecore

This article was originally published on November 18, 2015 at Aecore

Ah, the project engineer. Some view the project engineer (PE) as the kid out of college who doesn’t know how swing a hammer. However, do not be mistaken. As someone who has been in this role before, I’ve learned firsthand that a PE is the glue that holds the project together. Yet, mistakes happen that costs projects time and money.  I hate to admit it, but I’ve learned the hard way and caused my fair share of problems on projects. Don’t let it happen to you, learn from my mistakes that I’ve listed below.

1. Forwarding Service

Not reviewing critical submittals or RFI’s is like driving with a blindfold on. You should be able to explain everything that passes through your inbox in detail.

2. Not Tracking Costs

If a project change has the slightest hint of a cost impact, write it down and track it. You will not be able to remember every change order that you directed in the field. The surprise $40k bill from your sub on the last day of the project happens more often than you think.

3. Office Body

Don’t become fixated on your computer screen. A PE should spend a minimum of 2-3 hours in the field per day. Exposure to the job site can increase your awareness on quality control and help you learn how systems are built.

4. The Email King

Email is a great resource to communicate quickly and effectively between one another. Yet, at times it can limit building relationships. Pick up the phone and call people. It will leave a lasting impression. Just be sure to follow up with an email and recap important phone conversations.

5. Not Reading Your Contracts

If you don’t know your commitments, you cannot manage them. On your first day, read your owner contract and all of your sub contracts. You will be able to win any battle.

6. Turning a Blind Eye to Safety

If you see a safety violation, SAY SOMETHING. It doesn’t matter if the person is an iron worker and you are fresh out of college. It is your responsibility to keep everyone safe.

7. Not Using Technology

You have an advantage to being new in the industry. Seasoned staff are often stuck in their ways. It is your responsibility to think outside of the box and seek technology that can add value to your project. Help your team embrace new software and processes.


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Casey Bell is the co-founder of California-based Aecore. After earning degrees in Environmental Economics and Construction Management, Casey climbed the ranks of construction project management before creating Aecore with industry-colleague Anthony Cirinelli.