SWE - Fall 2010 - (Page 42)
Small vs. Large
While trade-offs are certain, small companies and large companies offer distinctly different advantages. Knowing where you’ll flourish is as much a matter of self-knowledge as it is understanding the company culture.
obtaining higher education while working for a large oil company in the 1980s: She obtained her master’s degree in chemical engineering from Rice University in Houston on a full fellowship, and the oil company gave her an educational leave of absence to do so. Shelley Wolff, P.E., LEED, AP, former SWE national president, and vice president with HNTB Corp., Kansas City, Mo., has found diversity and challenge staying at one company for her entire 30year career. Wolff, a civil engineer with a master’s in engineering management, has worked for the 3,000-employee HNTB since she was graduated from college. She earned two master’s degrees — an M.S. in engineering management and an M.A. in organizational management — with HNTB’s tuition assistance program, and gained valuable experience Wolff working in the corporate training and planning ofﬁces as a way to enhance her business acumen. “Working for an engineering company that strives to have best business practices presents opportunities,” Wolff said. “You can explore a path on the business side of the ﬁrm as I did, but you can come back to a technical path if you want.” Wolff did just that, returning to HNTB’s federal services division, where she works as a civil practice leader and senior project manager. Erin Hartmann, microassembly production line lead at Wavestream Corp., a 130-employee manufacturer of high-frequency ampliﬁers for Hartmann mobile communications units,
UNL PHOTO, COURTESY OF NEBRASKA MAGAZINE
Dingman Pam Dingman, P.E., loves the diversity of the work she does and the opportunities she seizes upon at her 10-person ﬁrm, Engineering Design Consultants. After working for both small and large engineering ﬁrms, Dingman realized that she was best suited for the smaller-company environment. “The major deciding factor was that I felt there was more opportunity at a small company,” she said. “The work requires that you be much more diverse in the kinds of projects you handle day-in and day-out.” Deborah E.R. Quock, a computer scientist at Argonne National Laboratory who holds master’s degrees in chemical engineering and computer science, enjoyed great beneﬁts at large and small companies, but ultimately decided that the large ﬁrm was right for her. “The science done at Argonne is unique globally, and the educational Quock beneﬁts are the best,” said Quock, whose supplemental education to work at Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source electron accelerator and her computer science degree from the University of Chicago came courtesy of Argonne. Quock appreciates the “novel science” that the accelerator allows her to explore, unlike her previous work in oil-industry technology, which she found static. She also beneﬁted from 42 SWE • FALL 2010
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