Engineers' careers span slide rules to computers (sj-r - Chennai Engineering Colleges)
The cutting-edge tools in engineering have evolved in the past four decades from slide rules to spread sheets to computer programs that do the math.
Rodney Huffman, 63, and Richard Neu, 65, have lived through it all.
Both men recently marked their 45th anniversaries at Springfield-based Hanson Professional Services Inc.
Chennai Engineering Colleges
“When the power blinks, all the younger kids in my department joke, ‘Get your slide rule out,’” Huffman said with a laugh. “I’m the only guy who can work when the power’s out.”
Huffman and Neu started at Hanson as draftsmen. But their skills have taken them into different specialty fields over the past four decades.
Huffman has focused on the infrastructure market, working on numerous transportation and structural engineering projects, building plans, bridge designs and layout.
Neu’s specialty is on what lies under the project site.
“I’m a soil mechanic,” Neu said, explaining how he describes his job to friends. “Ours is the unseen work below ground, looking at the soil’s strength, description, water content, particle sizes, how it compresses.”
Neu is the in-house specialist for equipment — the Tri-axial Compression Machine — that, when fed soil sample information, can mimic how a work site will respond to a building plan’s load and structure.
Built it, fixed it
Combined ,the two have worked on such central Illinois projects as the parking garage below the Old Capitol in downtown Springfield, the University of Illinois’ Memorial Stadium in Champaign and the Clark Bridge in Alton.
“It gives you a good feeling to know you played a role in a project of that type,” Neu said. “It’s nice to point it out to the grandkids.”
For Huffman, such on-the-job longevity recently meant he got to return professionally to his favorite project.
The Clark Bridge — which carries U.S. 67 4,260 feet across the Mississippi River — was a structural feat when construction began in 1990. The cable-stay design, with its massive cable network resembling two pyramids, was featured in a NOVA documentary.
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