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February 21, 2024

Engineer Spotlight: David Porter

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What inspired you to pursue a career in engineering?  

At an early age, my father saw something in me that even I didn’t see. When I was a preteen he told me, “You ought to become an engineer.” That was the furthest thing from my mind. When I graduated from high school, I wanted to be a computer science major. When I got to college, I hated the major because I realized I was going to sit at a desk the rest of my life. I remembered my father telling me that I ought to go into engineering, so I switched my major. 

Why did you select your area of specialty?

When I left school, I really had no particular idea as to what area of specialty I wanted to go into. I just happened to land in this particular area, which I love. I can only say I was blessed – God opened some doors for me that I wasn’t even looking to open myself.

I’m an applications engineer, so I do a lot of graphics and programming. I have the best of both worlds (computer science and engineering).

What do you like most about being part of a water-focused consulting engineering firm?

I was always fascinated with nature and water as a kid. I can recall as a preteen just following streams and seeing how they traverse the landscape and how they ran into other tributaries. I’m still fascinated by the art of treating water and how water flows and moves throughout the whole entire process.

How do you approach problem-solving on your projects?

I’m very logical, so I approach problem-solving from a logical point of view. I’ve been in the business for 20+ years and so when there’s a problem, I typically have a general idea of what the problem may be. But if I don’t know what the problem is, I approach the problem logically, “If this is not working, then let’s try this.” Then once I work through the logical processes and it still doesn’t work, call tech support and the guys I work with. If all else fails, start throwing things at it.

What is the most challenging project you were involved in?

In 2018, I was given a new water plant startup while with a different company. The challenging part was that I had to manage every aspect of the job. I was the project manager. I was the designer. I was the technician. I was the graphics designer. I was the startup technician. The only thing I didn’t do was build it. Since it was a brand-new water facility, it was an all-consuming effort. While it was my most challenging project, it was also extremely rewarding because the customer was very happy with the outcome.

What do you think the future holds for engineering, and what emerging trends excite you?

I’m excited about my work because engineering technology is always changing and that excites me. There’s always new breakthroughs in the way we treat water, whether it may be from a chemical process or an electrical-mechanical process. As an applications engineer, the software we use is always changing and there’s always something new coming out, so I get excited about anything technology-related. I started my career in 1999 and I’ve seen tremendous growth. Back then, water and wastewater technology lagged behind everything. Now it’s nearly caught up with the new trends, so that’s exciting as well. I also know that I could work as long as I want to because it’s hard to find good engineers.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

My greatest accomplishment may not be a big deal to anybody else, but to me it was when I was told I couldn’t do a certain thing on a project. They said “There’s no way you can accomplish this,” and everybody else had given up the idea of doing it. I was able to come up with a technical solution and find a way to accomplish everything they said couldn’t be done. That was one of my proudest moments.

What advice would you give to the next generation of engineers?

Be confident in what you do know, but also be confident in what you don’t know. There’s nothing wrong with not knowing. And lastly, just be humble.

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