Each year in August, the National Society of Professional Engineers observes Professional Engineers Day. It’s an opportunity to raise awareness about the profession and show appreciation for the work engineers do each day.
Count Jake Buckmiller among those professional engineers. He works at TSP, Inc., a multidisciplinary firm with architecture, engineering, planning, and interior design expertise under one roof.
Buckmiller earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from South Dakota State University. He always had an interest in STEM-related academic work that aligns with engineering, but he was also drawn to engineering’s ability to positively impact people and communities.
“To see people actually going in every day and using the building that you helped to design is really satisfying,” Buckmiller said.
Buckmiller has worked at TSP for seven years. He’s also a member of TSP’s Innovation Team, a grassroots group that encourages new ideas and processes and creates an environment for leadership development.
We had a chance to learn more about his role as an electrical engineer.
How did you first learn about TSP?
Darrell Bren (Director of Engineering) and Carly Nord (Electrical Engineer) from TSP visited SDSU and spoke to the student chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. They shared examples of their work and explained what consulting engineers typically do at work. After hearing their presentation, I wanted to follow up and learn more. I started at TSP about a month after I graduated from SDSU. I definitely am happy where I‘m at.
What projects have been most memorable for you?
The American Indian Student Center at SDSU. To be a designer on that project and give back to the school where I got my engineering degree is really cool. The American Indian Student Center is located next to one of the buildings where I had most of my classes. It’s nice to go back and see that I helped to add something to the SDSU campus. Another project is the Sanford Harrisburg Clinic, which is opening soon. It’s great to have that facility in the town where you live to help provide for the community.
What keeps you at TSP after seven years?
The people and the environment. There’s an energy here, and the people like what they do and they’re great to work with. The office building itself is also very inviting. There’s just a great feeling coming to work at TSP every day, and a lot of it is the people who make it that way.
What is the TSP Innovation Team?
It’s a platform to try new ideas and if it doesn’t work, we take time to determine what didn’t work and what can we do better. The Innovation Team is leading a company-wide wellness initiative this year to focus on the health and well-being of our team members, so we can continue to be as strong as we are. The opportunity to try something different and to carve time out of my day to coordinate those events and activities has been great. The Innovation Team is a chance to work with other people at TSP who are looking to see how we can make the organization better.
Are there some general misconceptions about engineers?
A lot of people think engineers can’t communicate and can’t be social individuals, but the fact that we’re always collaborating proves otherwise. Having architects and engineers in one firm is excellent. It makes communication a lot easier. There’s also external communication with the client to make sure their needs are met and relaying that information back to the internal team.
Where do you see yourself in five to 10 years?
It’s difficult to answer that when you’re in the trenches doing your job, but I would like to explore more of a client care leadership role in the future. I enjoy working with people.
Has anything surprised you about a career in engineering?
It sounds cliche, but every day is different. You set a plan for the day and it is amazing how often those plans don’t make it or get reshuffled, but it’s always something different day by day and week by week. That’s great and there’s always something new to jump into.
What do you do when you’re not working?
My wife and I stay busy with our two young daughters. Aside from that, I play Magic: The Gathering and like to watch my basketball (Boston Celtics) and football (San Francisco 49ers) teams when I can.