With an interest and aptitude for math and science, Julie Shipp, P.E., pursued her education and career in civil engineering, which allows her to help people by designing things that they use every day, such as roads, streets and bridges. Using her skills to make a way for others to travel and learn continues to fuel Julie’s career interests and project pursuits. She also shares her knowledge, experience and skills with students and interns.
Julie joined Hanson in 2008. She earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 2007 from Bradley University and is a licensed professional engineer in Illinois. She is a member of the Illinois Society of Professional Engineers’ Capital Chapter and received the chapter’s Young Engineer of the Year award in 2015. She also is a member of the National Society of Professional Engineers and the American Public Works Association.
Here, Julie talks more about her career and what drives her at work and in her life.
What led me to pursue this career?
When I was in high school, I began trying to narrow down what degree I would pursue in college. I was always good at math and science and started researching fields that could expand those skills. There were so many different fields of engineering, but civil engineering caught my eye. It was focused on the design and construction of real-world facilities that provide benefits to the public on a daily basis.
What I do on a typical day on the job:
I am always trying to balance multiple jobs that are in different stages of design. The goal of each day is to prioritize which jobs and clients need my attention. I also evaluate each project to see which tasks can be performed by other engineers or technicians and which tasks need to be handled by me, directly. Roadway projects require design, review, coordination, administration and organization, and therefore, my day to day is ever-changing as projects move forward.
My favorite part of my job:
The best part of my job is seeing a design fully constructed. There is a real sense of accomplishment when you can see a completed project and know that you contributed to its design. Seeing a project open for public use and watching it contribute to the network of everyday life is satisfying beyond words.
The biggest challenge I have faced on the job:
Given the variable nature of my job, different responsibilities have the potential to provide their unique sets of challenges. In addition to being a roadway engineer in Springfield, Illinois, I also have been an auditor for the National Precast Concrete Association, a resident engineer on construction projects, and traveled to Alaska to work on a design-build project for a very quick and busy six weeks. I think the biggest challenge is allowing yourself to be adaptable. People can get stuck in the habit of always using a certain tool to perform a design or always relying on a specific process to perform their calculations. People can be resistant to learning new programs or discovering a new way of thinking. But in this field, we need to be open-minded. Our design software is constantly changing and upgrading; staying current on the latest is what keeps us useful to our clients. Manuals and criteria are regularly updated and revised, because new and better ways of designing are constantly being developed.
Notable projects I have worked on:
- Glenn Highway Capacity Improvement Project for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, Anchorage, Alaska
- Springfield-Sangamon County Regional Planning Commission Economic Corridor and Freight Study, Sangamon County, Illinois
- Olympian Drive in Urbana, Illinois
- Illiana Corridor Project, Illinois and Indiana
- Woodside and Iron Bridge roadway improvements and grade separations project for the Sangamon County Highway Department
- Capitol Avenue corridor design and streetscape improvements, Springfield
- Stanford Avenue extension, Springfield
- McClugage Eastbound Bridge, Peoria, Illinois
What I like to do when I’m not working: When I’m not working, I enjoy playing soccer and working outside in my landscaping. I cherish the time spent with my family. My daughter is so much fun, and I am always looking for new activities to do with her in the evenings and on weekends. When I’m looking to relax, I like doing yoga and watching movies.