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Professionally Frustrated

Dear Dave
I own a consulting firm and have been in business for 16 years. One thing I notice is that people give more importance to an architect than an engineer. Even architects treat engineers very badly. How can we change this attitude?

Dear HS

Many engineers share your concern. The root of the problem, at least in the building market environment where engineers are typically working in teams with architects, is that the architect is almost always the prime and the engineers find themselves in the role of subcontractors to the architect. The architect’s client is the owner, the engineer’s client is the architect.

From one project to the next, the engineer may or may not have much access or contact with owners. It’s really no wonder at all why engineers have less public awareness and recognition than architects. If it’s any consolation or comfort, as hard as it may be for you to believe, I often hear similar laments from architects that they too feel vastly unappreciated as a profession.

From a broad perspective, engineers and their professional societies need to do to a much better job promoting the profession, and in educating the general public as to the vital role engineers play in the quality, safety and comfort of everyday life.

At the practice level, learn how to market your firm directly to owners to become a prime and wean your firm away from dependence on subcontracting to architects for your work. There are many engineers who have gone this route over the years, and they are almost always better off, by any number of measures, for having made the effort to do so.


Wahby and Associates