PMWT: You mentioned construction projects? How did you first get involved in construction? Are you a civil engineer? Did you study construction management in school? How did your professional work with construction projects begin? And when was that?
Max: Yes, I am a professional civil engineer, and a Fellow of the oldest professional association, the Institution of Civil Engineers in the UK. That's what FICE stands for. While we are at it, FCSCE stands for Fellow of the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers and FEIC stands for Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada.
I knew that I wanted to be a civil engineer ever since my first project - digging a hole in the sandy seashore and watching it fill with water from a rivulet issuing from further up the beach. That was at about the age of five. Since then, I've dug a lot of holes and filled them with a lot of things like sewage plants, railway lines, water and ships, as well as hospitals and tall buildings. Now I have reached the age of "discernment" where I just fill pages with text.
No, I didn't study construction management. In my day, there was no such thing. Construction management, by the way, is not project management of construction projects. Project management of construction projects is management of the administration of said projects. Construction management is management of construction technology, two very different things that are often confused. The same difference is even more confused in industries such as Information Technology ("IT").
My career in the real world of construction started when I decided that actually digging holes was more lucrative and challenging than just drawing them on paper. It was a shock believe me, and things like shoveling concrete was really hard work - and I've done lots of that in an emergency. I should have been a carpenter; it's not so messy and less fatiguing.
I remember the first day I saw steel reinforcement. In those days reinforcement was made of mild steel in smooth round bars and had hooks on the end so they did not slip out of the concrete. I had no idea what they were for, nor how to design the hooks - they didn't teach us that in university. So much for university education!
Yes, I have actually designed structures. I had to, to qualify as a "professional". I designed a flat top weir for measuring flow in a river in the heart of a jungle in Africa. The river was normally full of dust during the "dry" season. Came the first "wet" season storm, and it was so intense that it lifted up the whole weir and deposited it about half a mile down stream. But please don't tell anybody. Because, fortunately by that time my application for membership had been approved.
From then on I decided to return home and become a "Resident Engineer" and watch other people make mistakes. When was that? Oh, over half a century ago.