National Engineers Week Spotlight: Paul C. Larsen, PE

02.22.17   Paul C. Larsen, PE | More by this Author

National Engineers Week Spotlight: Paul C. Larsen, PE

As SME celebrates National Engineers Week, we asked our engineers to tell us why they love their profession. Here's what Paul C. Larsen, PE, Regional Vice President had to say.

What inspired you to become an engineer?

My grandfather, Al Koval. He was a self-taught Engineer with Excello Corporation in Detroit and was instrumental in the development of Paper milk cartons (you will never see me using my finger to pull open the spout!). As a child, I worshiped him. He was a very brilliant and hardworking man who could fix anything, and taught me many valuable life lessons. When I broke it, he would fix it. However, when he would fix it, he would also teach me how to fix it and not just do it for me. This taught me to be curious and inquisitive about how and why things worked. ‘Till this day, I still try fixing stuff when it breaks before simply getting rid of it.

I still have a small model speedboat in a box in my garage that he fixed for me as a child with a piece of copper plate, wire and tiny screws. He also taught me the value and importance of education. At the age of eight, he had me dig a trench for a waterline at his cottage in Port Huron (no wonder why I am a geotechnical engineer). It was a lump sum project! It took me all day to complete this project due to the many stones and rocks in the sandy soil. When I was done, he sat me down and told me that I did a great job and paid me for my efforts. Then he said, “There is nothing wrong with physical labor and working hard for an honest day’s pay. If you work hard and study to get your education, you will get paid to think instead of having to work so hard digging trenches in rocky soil all day. The choice is up to you."

What is your favorite part about working in our industry?

The PEOPLE! I love interacting with and helping others be successful. The best part of our profession is that it is filled with honest, hardworking and dedicated people who are always willing to help. For me, it is more than just the people I work with and for. It is about “professional” family and relationships. From a career perspective, many of those “professional” family values and the importance of relationships were instilled in me at SME during the initial (formative) stage of my career. I feel that many great people at SME personally cared about me and wanted me to be successful. Many times, they were willing to do what was right for me as opposed to what might be solely best for them. As a result, I have always tried to do the same for others. I am happiest when we are collectively working hard, accomplishing great things and having FUN! I love it when an office is “alive” and everybody enjoys working together and being with each other. Successful projects for me are those where all team members literally feed on the energy and enthusiasm that each individual brings to the overall team. When that happens, it is magical and simply the BEST!

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