STEM JOBS

EARLY FALL 2017

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8 EARLY FALL 2017 // STEMJOBS.COM A Future Worth Building BY ELLEN EGLEY ARCHITECTURE // JERA SCHLOTTHAUER A CAREER WITH A SOLID FOUNDATION STEM JOBS: What sparked your interest in a career in architecture? JERA SCHLOTTHAUER: I have always had a love for drawing and planning. As a kid, I often drew 3-D drawings and plans of homes and cities always thinking about the people that lived there, how they got around in the spaces they were in, and what impact a certain layout may have on them. I would even take my drawings home and build entire cities on the dining table out of whatever I could get my hands on. Little did I know at the time, but I was playing with different forms of architecture. It was in college that I finally discovered architectural/ structural engineering, a field that brought my love for architecture, engineering, the environment, and solving mathematical problems with the science of materials together. From that point on, I was hooked and decided to focus on structural engineering, a component of architecture. SJ: What is your current role, and what all does that encompass? JS: I currently work as a professional structural engineer but am often in the role of a project manager. A great deal of what I do involves working alongside architects and contractors to design the structure of buildings. I like to think the design of a building structure is much like the skeleton of a human body in which the bones are what support the weight of the body and must be strong enough to resist the forces that act on it. Architects generally focus on the building layout or the 'skin', its form, and its function. It is my responsibility as the structural engineer to analyze that building layout and calculate the loads the building must resist. The loads I analyze that generally have the most impact on the design include snow, wind, earthquake, water, soil, and other heavy loads such as large equipment, assembly groups of people, storage, and more. I must decide which structural systems are most suitable for the building and the materials that are most economical to construct in that region. The different types of building systems I work with often include steel, masonry, concrete, wood, or a combination of these materials. Using the loads and the appropriate building materials, I design the columns, floor beams, roof system, and walls to fit the structure to the shape of the building layout. On most projects, I see the building through construction and work directly with the contractor and builders to ensure it is constructed according to the plans so it is safe for the people inside it to use. SJ: What type of education is needed to be qualified for your position? JS: First, you should decide if architecture, design, or structural engineering is the right career for you. You must possess strong skills in math, science, decision making, writing, communication, and problem solving. You can start to practice these skills while you are still in high school by focusing on classes in math, science, and English. To become a structural engineer, you must attend and graduate from an ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) accredited university in either a civil or architectural engineering program with a structural option. Many choose to continue to get their master's degree in a specific topic, but that is Taking a building from an idea to a design to a structure is a complex process that requires many professionals working together to ensure it is safe, functional, and appealing. That's something that Jera Schlotthauer learned earlier than most thanks to some incredible experiences in high school. STEM Jobs spoke with Jera to learn about her passion, path, and profession.

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