Andy is the owner of a structural engineering company called 29E6 in South Carolina and a former instructor with PPI. They do a lot of work with architects and contractors, helping them with their engineering needs. One of the aspects he likes the most about being the owner of a company is that he gets to help young professionals with their needs and curiosity by serving as a mentor to them. This reflects the lack of mentorship he had while at his first job, and now he’s trying to give others the help he didn’t receive.
Combining Andy’s drive and CEA’s mission, Isaac and Andy bundled all five depth review courses into one awesome course, The Ultimate Civil PE Depth Courses. This is the one resource you’ll ever need in order to organize, prepare, study, and pass your PE Depth Exam, and you can get one-year access to it with a 50% discount by using the code COUPON50 until August 21st, 2020. Just click on the link below and you’ll be on your way to become a professional civil engineer.
How To Win Friends And Influence People, by Dale Carnegie – Andy’s book recommendation
The Ultimate Civil PE Depth Courses – Become an early adopter and save 50% with coupon code COUPON50. It ends Aug 21st, 2020, so HURRY!
Civil Engineering Academy – If you need exams, solved problems or courses, make sure to check out our home base
CEA Community – Haven’t joined up on our free community? What’s wrong with you? J/K. Ok, just go there and join a group of like-minded civil engineers!
PPI – PPI is our partner to help you ace your FE and PE exams. Use our discount code of CIVAC and our link to get 15% off any book you order, including the Civil Engineering Reference Manual
Reach out to Isaac – [email protected]
Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/civilengineeringacademy/message
CEA Show Notes
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Isaac Oakeson: All right. What's going on, everybody? I'm excited to share this episode with you today. We've got a fun guest and we actually have a big, special announcement today. So, it's going to be a fun one. I have Andy Richardson here with me. How you doing Andy?
Andy Richardson: Hey, good Isaac. Glad to be here today.
Isaac Oakeson: Hey, I'm glad you're here too. Otherwise it would just be me flying solo and nobody likes those episodes that much, you know what I mean? So, let's begin this by maybe briefly talking about how you got into engineering what you do now and maybe what a typical day is for you. I'd like people to get to know your background, things of that nature.
Andy Richardson: Yeah. Well, I started engineering, and probably like a lot of people in that, I started by being good at math, good at science. And that was really a big part of what started me in engineering. I took drafting back in the day when we did hand-drafting, believe it or not.
Isaac Oakeson: No AutoCAD?
Andy Richardson: No AutoCAD. So, I did that when I was in high school and when it came time to figure out what I wanted to do, I considered architecture, but civil engineering was the way that I felt like I was led to go into. Maybe a little push here and there because of different things. But, that ended up being the direction I took and have been doing it ever since. Really have never -- I've always been doing engineering since about 1998, when I started.
Isaac Oakeson: And what discipline did you go into? Like, what are you doing? What are you working on?
Andy Richardson: So, right now, I'm structural. I've been doing that for the majority of my career. The first job I had was a multi-disciplinary type company. A small company here in the low country of South Carolina. And, you know, I tried different things out. I was able to do -- It was really neat because you were able to work on a variety of projects. I felt like I was able to use my full civil engineering degree, which I don't know that everybody's able to do that, in terms of, you know, one week you might do some drainage calculations, another week you might design a full water system for a small town, and then another week you might actually do some engineering for a steel building. And so, I was able to do a little bit of all of them. And I saw the benefit though, of going into a specialty area. And I really wanted to challenge myself, which is why I wanted the structural engineering and I felt like that was the direction I wanted to take. And I've been doing it ever since. And, for the past 11 years, have actually been self employed as a structural engineer here.
Isaac Oakeson: Cool. So tell us about what your company is. Well, you know, what are you doing now? You own your own company. What's the company and what are you, what are you working on?
Andy Richardson: It's called 29e6. And that is a fun play off of the modulus of steel. Modulus of Elasticity. So, for good engineer numbers people, it's a fun thing. And we do structural engineering. That's all we do. And we're down in the low country of South Carolina. We're a small team. We have two full-time personnel here. One drafter, one engineer, and then myself. So I guess that's three. And then we have a few part-time as well. And we do a little bit of everything, from commercial buildings to delegate a design, connection design type things. Also, we even do some houses as well. So, that's pretty much what we do, but we work a lot for architects and contractors as consultants for them and helping them with their engineering needs.
Isaac Oakeson: That's fantastic. I'm sure you're learning a lot owning your own business as well. You're probably wearing just as many hats.
Andy Richardson: Oh yeah. It's definitely a learning and it's enjoyable. But, you know, what's great about it is, what I've recently learned a lot is, some of the passions that I have for teaching the PE exam is what I enjoy about owning a company. So, you get to a certain point in your career when you really have -- You know, when you first start out and you just have this desire to learn everything and grow and, and then you take your PE and you want to really learn about that, and it was a really great point in my life, which is one of the reasons I love teaching the PE exam is because you almost want to re rehash that in a sense and help other people do that. So, that was one of the most enjoyable times. But one of the things I like about owning my own company is, it took me a while to figure this out, but I really enjoy mentoring the newer engineers that come through and using some of the same things as far as teaching the PE to teach people how to start out as an engineer. And, in my early career, I really didn't actually have a lot of that working for a smaller company. And, just the people that I worked with, it was -- I didn't feel like I was always necessarily mentored. And so one of the passions I have is actually to do that in my business and everywhere I can in terms of engineering, and to really expand and develop others.
Isaac Oakeson: No, that's fantastic tips, I think. Yeah, if you have a passion for that, that's awesome, because I know there's so many engineers that wish they probably had a little more support when they're just starting and that's very helpful. There was two things you mentioned just talking that maybe I want to touch on, or you could talk about a little bit more. One of them is, maybe, what a tip you would have for someone that wants to start their own engineering firm, their own company. And then, the other thing I want you to touch on, is tell us more about the background you have with teaching and preparing people to pass their PE exams.
Andy Richardson: Yeah. So, starting your own business, I think is a great thing to do if you have the right mindset and the right mentality for it. It's definitely going to be a challenge, but engineering is a challenge and, you know, it's not for everybody. But it can be a really great career to own your own business, whether you're a sole practitioner. And I did that for, -- It was a different company name and I did that for eight years, actually as what I call sole practitioner, meaning you work by yourself and you just get a job, you do the entire thing yourself, whether it's drawings, invoicing, and calculations, of course, you do it all yourself. It became a hybrid where I started hiring out contractors to help with certain aspects and part timers to help out with that. And so it evolved, and one day I realized "I just need to go ahead and hire some people full time". Sothat's what I've been doing for the past three years. But, it's a really great career. I like it a lot. And as far as how to start out, the best thing is you need to find some people around you, just like starting out as a new engineer. You wouldn't just want to do a bunch of calculations or design without a mentor. You really need a mentor. I have a coach. I have mentors around me now and, you know, Michael Jordan, guess what? I mean, he was the best player in basketball, probably ever. And there's arguments about that, I suppose. Butwithout a coach, right? He had a coach. Tiger Woods has a coach. Tom Brady has a coach. So, get a coach, get a mentor, whatever career stage you're at.
Isaac Oakeson: Yeah, I totally agree. You know, even running this thing to help engineers grow, you gotta have someone to help you. And so that's definitely good advice. Let's dive into that second part of the equation. What's your background with helping engineers pass the PE exam?
Andy Richardson: Yeah, so I mentioned -- It was probably eight or, actually it was about 11 years ago that I got into helping people pass the PE, which is actually about the same time that I started my own company. And it afforded me time to do that, actually, you know? Because it's hard to do some of these type things in the evenings when, you know, you've got other requirements in play as you probably know
Isaac Oakeson: Family, life, kids.
Andy Richardson: So, I was able to have a little bit more of a flex schedule that allowed you to do those things. But, one of the things I was looking at is what are things that I really enjoyed over my career and it was, in fact. I really enjoy taking the PE. I know that sounds weird to some people perhaps, but I actually enjoyed preparing for it and studying, you knowI learned so much andit was a really cool time. I mean, obviously, taking the PE was nerve wracking and I was really nervous about it, but the preparation part I actually enjoyed. So, thinking back about five or six years after I took it, I thought, "You know, I'd like to get into helping people out and using this as -- ". I wanted to do something with it, you know? Helping people pass the PE and something with that. And that was how I got into it. So I did a bunch of what you had. This was 11 years ago. I don't think the podcast is available, but I did do a podcast. I did a website and I started some things. And I actually started working with a company most people know, PPI, now with Kaplan, but the Civil Engineering Reference Manual, which is really probably, I would say, probably still one of the most popular reference manuals in the civil engineering industry for preparing for and passing the exam. I was able to actually teach their first live course that they had online. So, I'm pretty proud of that actually. And we were able to figure some things out in 2012 and 2011 that -- The technology really wasn't as robust as it is now, and so we were able to figure some things out about how to do live courses online with a large company. So, that was really what got me started. And It definitely took some learning for me because I had not taught engineering before. But it was something that we did. And I really enjoyed it after obviously getting through some of the things that we learned early on. And, in fact, Isaac, you were one of my students, weren't you?
Isaac Oakeson: Yeah. Little fun fact. Yes. Fun fact. I was one of Andy's students.
Andy Richardson: Did you think that helped you at all?
Isaac Oakeson: Oh yeah, of course. I always recommend taking a course. You forget everything, you know? There's no way you're going to remember everything you remember out of school. So, taking a course, I always recommend. I highly recommend it. You can definitely go at it on your own, there's no problem doing that. But having instructor and some accountability, I think really helps. But, Andy, man, you're the pioneer of online stuff. That's good.
Andy Richardson: Yeah. Exactly. We're cutting our way through the forest of the online --
Isaac Oakeson: Could we call you the Michael Jordan of online civil engineering or learning?
Andy Richardson: That sounds great. Let's do it. So, I mean, there's obviously some great resources out there, but you know, I think what we've learned over the years is a great resource in itself, and with what you've prepared and the resources. Your website and everything is so much better than one of mine was, you know, 12 years ago. Butsome of the content that I had, we're able to utilize now, and that's what we're doing. But that's how I got started and we did that forI did the live course up until just a few years ago, maybe two or three years agoAnd actually developed -- In conjunction with that, also developed some on-demand coursework that is supplementary to the live. And trying to figure out the reason for that really is -- I've always been of the opinion. -- The reason for the podcast and the reason for all the content that I created was, people are busy and I was trying to figure out how can we help people who are extremely busy prepare, right? I mean, because I believe, Isaac, that the best way to prepare for the exam is to study. I mean, I don't believe actually that the videos and podcasts actually help people study the best. I believe that cracking up with the book and doing the work is the best way to study. Okay? However, I think that there is a place for the live course and there's a place for on-demand coursework. And that's what we want to provide to these students. It's those things, the supplementary. And I was also thinking about how can we help people that are extremely busy study in odd times, like when you're waiting for your wife or you're waiting for your husband and you're in the car and you've got your iPhone with you, can watch a video for 15 minutes? Or if you're on the bus, can you watch a video for 20 minutes? Or it's late at night and you're exhausted. Can you do some things like that? So that was really -- Where I think the videos can really help out is during these in-between times, like a lunch break at work or times when maybe you have an issue that you can't really figure out. You've looked at the books, you've looked at this and that, and you don't understand it enough and you just want somebody to show you how to do it. So, that's the other aspect. It's helping you crack the code of something that you just can't really get. And we all hit those points, you know?
Isaac Oakeson: Well, I like what you've been talking about. I think this is a good time to talk about what we have teamed up and what we're offering. So Andy and I have teamed up with Civil Engineering Academy and Andy has provided depth exam resources. Complete coursework for you. If you are in need of courses to help you with your depth exam, we've teamed up to offer that for you. And so, if anybody is interested, we actually do have a special deal going on right now where you can get 50% off the initial price that we've got. So, if you actually go to the website civilengineeringacademy.com/depthcourses, you'll be taken to our page. You can read all about the course that we're offering. The beauty of it, I think is that we have bundled all of these review courses together into this one course offering. So, if you are struggling in another area in your breadth studies, you can go hit that and study. But go check that out. Civilengineeringacademy.Com/Depthcourses. Once you check out, use the coupon code of COUPON50, that will give you 50% off for one year of access to the course. It comes with lots of extra goodies, including practice exams an equation reference guide, a bonus theory questions, all the modules that cover the specifications, a private Facebook community for support and lots of other good stuff. So we're excited to share that with you, guys. We'll definitely be talking about it more, probably a little bit sprinkled through the interview, but go check that out because the deal only lasts until the 21st of August, and then it goes away. And the courses will still be there. We'll still have those for sale, if you're listening to this after August 21st, 2020. But, if you do want to take advantage of that deal, go get it now. That's civilengineeringacademy.com/depthcourses. So, yeah, good stuff. Andy, tell me about -- This is a fun question. What's a lesson learned from a mistake made, whether that's been through study or your own business, or project you've worked on? What's the story. Is there anything that you could share with our audience about a lesson learned?
Andy Richardson: Oh man. I've got many of those, but I would probably go with -- It's been some years ago and I realized the importance -- A lot of us move into project management as we move up the proverbial ladder and we start dealing with clients and customers, right? So, I learned the value of the phrase, "The customer is always right" and dealing with the customer. And one day I got a little bit onto my high horse with one customer. This has been probably almost 15 years ago and I really got into it with one of our clients or customers, depending on what you want to call them. Your clients. But I really got into it with him and it was not good because they -- Ultimately, we lost a customer that day, okay? And it made me realize, "you know what, even if I don't necessarily agree with this person, I need to make sure I respect everybody and listen to their needs." Most of the time, it's just a matter of somebody wanting to make sure you understand and listen to them. Even if you're right, it doesn't really matter, you need to listen to other people. So, that would be one thing that I learned. And, to be fair, I still need that reminder from time to time, right? We always would need that reminder. So, perhaps I'll listen to this again in a couple of weeks and it'll be a good reminder for me, but it's just a good reminder to listen.
Isaac Oakeson: Customer is always right.
Andy Richardson: Yeah. Listen to your customer and let them air out their issues because that may be all they need to do. So, a good marriage advice too, by the way.
Isaac Oakeson: I agree with that. That's very good. Boy, we're giving all kinds of advice today. That's good. I guess last kind of things I want to cover real quick with you are just more kind of get to know you a little bit more. These are kind of just real quick questions, short answers. You can take as much time as you want, but what's a major obstacle you faced in your journey to become a civil engineer, whether that was school, PE, career, boss? What was something that stood out in your mind?
Andy Richardson: Yeah, I alluded to it earlier and I'm very thankful for the people that gave me the opportunity all the way through my career. My first hire all the way to where I am today. And, I am very thankful for those people. However, I do feel like there might have been some of mentorship early on. And that was an obstacle for me. And trying to find resources was very difficult, especially when the internet was in its infancy. S,O that was an obstacle.
Isaac Oakeson: What do you recommend now for an engineer?
Andy Richardson: It might be that, most of the people that are listening to this are obviously out of school and have a job, but it's, if you are looking for, you know -- If you're in a situation where you don't have a mentor, like maybe you're in a tough situation with your boss, you know? There's people all over the world, we have access through the internet, etc. Reach out to somebody who you feel that can help you out, whether it's just answering questions about like the project management example, or some specific technical examples. And I'm not even talking about the course today. I'm just saying, like, reach out to some mentors that can help you out because it's really helpful to have that thing to lean on, that person to lean on and give you some advice. And because, really, it's important to ask questions and have the humility to ask the questions to other people and not just think that you have all of the answers. So, that would be one piece of advice as well.
Isaac Oakeson: That's great. Here's another one, what's the best advice you've ever received or just good advice in general? You've already shared quite a few. Is there any others?
Andy Richardson: So, I guess it's kind of similar to that in terms of what I mentioned earlier. And it was actually my father-in-law, but he said, "you know, it doesn't really matter who's right or wrong. You just need to go ahead and say you're sorry as soon as possible", if you're in a fight, that is. And it was mostly about marriage, right? So, we've talked about marriage twice now, but you know, it kind of goes back to the "customer is always right" mentality. It might be a coworker, it might be your spouse, or friend, it doesn't mean if you're not married. But the idea is have some humility in life, you know? And have some balance in your life. Don't try to, you know, -- We engineers think we know it all. And we are smart, you know? You gotta be smart to pass this exam. But the fact is, let's have some humility too, right?
Isaac Oakeson: Very good. Very good. I like it. I mean, we've talked a lot about our course today as a resource. Maybe if we stepped outside of that, is there any books that you would recommend to engineers, whether it's leadership, or engineering, or education, or maybe fun that have impressed you that we could share?
Andy Richardson: Yeah. I mean the biggest thing is continuing to learn in all aspects of your life, whether it be engineering and I'm a learner. I love learning about engineering. I love learning about business. I love learning about spiritual and personal development aspects. So pick up some books and read, and don't just read about engineering all the time, but there's some really cool books out there. I mean, obviously in the area of the PE exam, we talked about the Civil Engineering Reference Manual. It's is a great resource. One of the first books that I read on personal development was How To Win Friends And Influence People. So, it's a great book on how to relate to other people. So there's a couple off hand and --
Isaac Oakeson: I love it. And if you need that book, go use our link, civilengineeringacademy.com/ppi. We got a discount code, CIVAC, and you'll get 15% off any book you get at PPI. So go use that, if you're going to go check and get the CERM. They changed the title of the CERM. I don't know why, when Kaplan took over. Do we call it the PERM now? I don't know. It's called like the PE Civil Reference Manual. Anyway.
Andy Richardson: It'll always be The CERM iN my heart.
Isaac Oakeson: Yes. Well good deal. We'll end with this. If you had all the resources in the world, or all the knowledge, what's something you'd like to be a part of in the world of civil engineering?
Andy Richardson: Yeah. I alluded to it earlier. It's just, how can we provide more development and mentorship to this next, younger generation, if you will, of engineers that are coming through, whether it be in their career ,education and development or what we're doing right here, which is the PE exam. So that's what I would like to be a part of and aim for, and, hopefully, I'm a part of now.
Isaac Oakeson: Great. I love it. Thanks, Andy. So, guys go take advantage of this sweet deal. We've got a sweet deal for you. If you need help with your depth exam, go get the courses andy and I teamed up to share with you. Again, the website, civilengineeringacademy.com/depthcourses, and It'll link you to the page, go check it out. Use the coupon code of COUPON50, and you'll get 50% off right now. That ends August 21st. It's still a good deal if you're listening to this after that. So, definitely go check it out. So, Andy, thanks for jumping on the show. I really appreciate it. What's the best way to reach you if people want to reach out to you and talk to you?
Andy Richardson: Yeah. If you have any, anything you want to reach out to me, I would say LinkedIn is where I really like to go for connecting with people. So, link up with me on LinkedIn, I guess, is that the right way to say that.
Isaac Oakeson: I guess that's how you sat that.
Andy Richardson: So that's really how I like to hook up with people. So go over, find me and, if you like something I've written, you know, like it. But yeah, thanks again, Isaac, for having me on today. And I like what you're doing at the Civil Engineering Academy and glad to be a part of it today.
Isaac Oakeson: Perfect. Well, we're excited. So, thanks again. And I guess we'll see you around. Thanks Andy. Bye
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