Welcome to our series, Getting to Know the Team! If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a structural engineer or simply wanted to learn more about the people behind Engineering Solutions, this series is for you. We’ll feature a new team member every month, so be sure to check back regularly and enjoy our fourth installment below!
Name – Tom A. McLaughlin
Location – Charlottesville and Richmond
Title – Director of Structural Engineering
Years with Engineering Solutions – 3 years
When did you know you wanted to be a structural engineer?
At first I wanted to be an architect, but after working some construction jobs in high school I realized I enjoyed the practical side of building things. I began studying to be an engineer when I got to college, although it took me awhile before I landed on structural engineering.
What is your typical day at work?
Aside from designing, as a director, a big part of my day involves teaching. I make sure the whole team is making progress, understands what we’re doing, and that we’re completing our projects correctly and on time.
What is the best part about your job?
It’s always cool to see something built, like driving down the street and seeing one of our projects completed. Problem solving is also one of my favorite parts about what we do. Teaming up and interacting with other creative people (architects, interior designers, developers, mechanical engineers, etc.) is another true pleasure of the job.
What are some of the challenges in your job?
Sometimes we have to make decisions based on incomplete information. It’s also important to be thorough, so we may discover new issues along the way that weren’t part of the initial problem.
What is one of the coolest projects you’ve worked on for Engineering Solutions?
The C&O Row Homes are the most recent project that come to mind. In the past, I’ve worked on the Quirk Hotel in Richmond, Dulles International Airport, and Trump International Hotel.
What is your favorite Core Value and how do you live it out?
I’m an explainer, and I like to know why we do something. So when I’m working on a design, the process is generally open-ended and give-and-take. The collaboration that happens when you approach things with this mindset lays the groundwork for innovation.
If you had to give one piece of advice for working with a structural engineer, what would it be?
A big part of what we do is behind the scenes. While it’s cool to see things we’ve helped build, the majority of our hard work happens in the office. It’s important to understand the product isn’t always visual in the traditional sense.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I like hiking, biking, home improvement projects, landscaping, and of course spending time with family and friends.
Tell us about your family.
My wife, Kate, and I have been married for 15 years and have two kids: Sarah, 9, and Sean, 11. We enjoy spending time outdoors together, and the kids stay busy with soccer and baseball. Every year we take a vacation to the Outer Banks.
Fun fact about yourself?
I once won a dance contest, and I came in 2nd place in the Virginia state chili cook-off.
What is the last movie you watched?