Communication in Civil Engineering

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Carlos Castellanos began to work in Civil Engineering in the early stage of his college career. He currently works for the City of Anaheim as the City Engineer. He is presently in charge of all the engineering departments like: surveying, traffic, design, construction, etc. To land this position, it took him several years of dedication to both work and education. The hardest part of his career was going full time to school while working 40 hours a week. In the end, he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, Master of Science in Construction Management, and his Professional Engineering License.

Nothing Gets Done Without Communication

Mr. Castellanos works with consulting firms, developers, and the city council, so nothing would get done without communication. He emphasized that in government institutions, communication is critical to completing projects on time. The city is granted with millions of dollars, so good and effective communication is key to the city’s success.

Since Mr. Castellanos oversees 55 employees; he added that having open communication with his staff allows him to give feedback and vice versa. Mr. Castellanos must also answer to his boss, the director of the City of Anaheim. Thus, another important aspect of communication is staff reports. He must be able to give his superior an assessment on his staff.

Engineering Reports

Working for the city, Mr. Castellanos will work alongside with many firms and agencies. The technical part his job is working with geotechnical reports, hydrology reports, environmental reports, traffic studies, etc. Depending on either the size of the project, the impact on infrastructure or the community is what dictates what reports are requested. He said “a lot of it is driven by environmental documents”. Since there is a ton of information on these reports, Mr. Castellanos and his staff will mark up these reports with a red pen. This simple tactic will prevent error and confusion amongst the city and agencies.

Make a Mark There

When asked, who is your main audience when presenting technical information? Mr. Castellanos said “mainly engineers; we work closely with consulting firms, planning departments, developers, and upper management.” Mr. Castellanos strategy for communication on behalf of these reports is taking plenty of notes and making comments on plans, or engineering reports. There is a heavy load of information to cover, so a phone call won’t be much help when communicating. Rather, writing several memos throughout a project is practical, efficient, and it ensures a written record of what was said.

Communication with The Community

When presenting written information to the community. The city uses flyers, brochures, and pamphlets. Mr. Castellanos says that “we use a bunch of graphics, colors, and non-technical words; this way the community can simply understand what is presented to them.” Another medium that works well is social media; we can communicate the vision of the city council through the city’s website or Facebook.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

When asked, what advice would you give a Civil Engineering student who struggles with communication? Mr. Castellanos advise is not to be afraid to ask for feedback. By doing so, it allows you to see your weaknesses and strengths. He also recommends that you sign up for additional classes on communication. To become a better communicator; you got to be willing to get out of your comfort zone.

Angel Velazquez, Guest Blogger

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