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. In this edition, we’ve got a double feature of our two summer interns, Ben Zook and Phillip Sowers.

Name(s) – Ben Zook (BZ) and Phillip Sowers (PS)

Location – Harrisonburg

Title – Summer Interns

When did you know you wanted to be a structural engineer?

BZ: I worked for my dad in the carpentry business growing up and I found interest in building and designing structures from an early age. About half way through high school I decided to follow this vocational path because of how much I was enjoying my applied mathematics classes.

PS: From the time I was little, my family thought I would grow up to be an engineer, but being involved in my family’s construction and remodeling company in my late teens drew my attention to Civil Engineering. My desire to concentrate on Structural Engineering came when I was introduced to Free-Body Diagrams while I was getting my associate’s degree.

(Above, intern Phillip, second from left with his family.)

What is your typical day at work?

BZ: Since I just started working for Engineering Solutions, my day-to-day responsibilities are still forming into a routine. Regardless of what my tasks are, I hope to aid in various forms this summer and make my coworkers’ jobs a little easier.

PS: So far, I’ve performed deliveries, drafted a few projects in AutoCAD and Revit, and studied to familiarize myself with REVIT for the bigger projects.

What is the best part about your job?

BZ: The best part of my job is helping others with my knowledge and organizational skills. I love applying what I’ve learned in the classroom to the workplace and finally fitting all of the pieces together.

PS: The office environment is friendly, and I enjoy the focus on problem solving and systematic solutions.

What are some of the challenges in your job?

BZ: Problem solving is sometimes one of the most challenging aspects of the job. Learning how to stay persistent through these problems is also a difficult process.

PS: I am new to the vast depth of commercial construction and engineering industry. Knowing the specifications, the right way to perform a task or check safety, and trying to find that way can be somewhat overwhelming but gradually tackled with help from coworkers.

What is one of the coolest projects you’ve worked on for Engineering Solutions?

BZ: Since I just started working in May, I don’t have very many projects under my belt. However, I did enjoy inspecting a skate park the other day. It was fun to see the bones of the ramps and check the structural integrity of the system.

PS: I’ve drafted a few parts of projects so far but haven’t been very involved in any particular project yet. However, I’ve had a few site visits and one of the interesting ones considered how to safely and structurally support a wall above a kitchen so it could open up the room below.

What is your favorite Core Behavior and how do you live it out?

BZ: Helping others through the knowledge that I have obtained is one of my core values, so our focus on Community resonates with me. Working as an engineer allows me to live this out everyday.

(Above, intern Ben on the right.)

PS: My favorite Core Value is Integrity, which stems from my faith and how I was raised. I’ve sought to uphold my word in and out of college life and find ways to correctly or helpfully do things for others.

If you had to give one piece of advice for working with a structural engineer, what would it be?

BZ: Answering questions from clients helps us connect to them more and ultimately improves communication for the design process, making everyone’s job easier.

PS: Some general advice would be to have some level of flexibility and be open to changes to the project. Designs aren’t always feasible or structurally possible as initially envisioned and that takes a lot of communication and flexibility for everyone involved.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

BZ: I enjoy watching and playing sports with friends. During the weekdays this summer, you might see me at the soccer fields playing in a recreational league or in the middle of a slow pitch softball game on a Sunday afternoon.

PS: I enjoy playing video games, spending time with my family making jokes and watching movies, learning about engineering from my family/college, and attending Bible studies and church activities. Now that I am back in the Rockingham County area, I’m hoping to make some new friends and find some volunteer opportunities where I can be effective and serve others.

Tell us about your family.

BZ: I grew up in Canton, OH with my parents and three siblings. I am the middle child and have an older sister and brother named Nikita and Jared who have both moved away from home. Andrew is my youngest sibling and he is a rising senior in high school.

(Above, intern Ben with his family.)

PS: I was raised in a close-knit, sometimes silly, homeschool family. My parents, who are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year, have a residential construction company and enjoy working together. I have a brother who is still homeschooling and is working part-time as a lifeguard and a sister who is engaged to be married later this year.

Fun fact about yourself?

BZ: I am a Canadian citizen and lived in Canada for 2 years.

PS: When I was younger, I used to compete in surfing and bodyboarding on the Flowrider (simulated surfing machine). I still like to ride from time to time.

(Above, intern Phil on the Flowrider.)

What is your favorite food or restaurant?

BZ: I love my mom’s homemade pizza with some fresh applesauce and ice tea to top it all off.

PS: IHOP for breakfast or DiGiorno’s pizza

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