Full Name: Sean O’Neill Eisler
Job Title: VP, Henderson Engineers, Inc.
Graduation Year: 1993
Current City: Parkville, Missouri
Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri
Find me on Twitter! @seaneisler
What is something that you wish was available to you as a student that current students at UMKC have access to?
The access to technology and the information it unlocks was not available when I was at UMKC. No email, no google searches, and the computer we had access to was a mainframe that ran on UNIX. I didn’t see my first personal computer until my junior year, and it was running DOS. Email and the world wide web didn’t become available until a couple of years after I graduated.
What project have you worked on that you are the most proud of?
The projects that I am most proud of are the ones we undertake after natural disasters have struck. It’s amazing to watch Mother Nature take a big, stout, commercial building and do the damage it’s capable of doing. It’s also amazingly sad to see the toll that is taken on the human element of the aftermath.
We were involved with quite a bit of work in the gulf coast after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, as well as several retail and education projects in the after the Joplin, Missouri tornado in 2011. Watching the commercial construction community come together in a time of crisis and rebuild what once was is inspiring and gives me a lot of pride in my work and our industry.
How has the field of engineering changed since you started working?
AutoCAD was in the process of being adopted when I graduated from UMKC. I interviewed at five consulting firms around Kansas City and two of them were still using manual drafting. Part of the reason I joined Henderson Engineers was because every engineer had their own PC and they were designing 100% in a CAD environment. Now our industry is moving from designing in a 2D environment in AutoCAD to the 3D BIM environment of Revit.
What advice do you have for students entering the field?
My dad once told me that the only thing college does is teach you how to learn. What is in your head the day you graduate is a foundation. It’s not everything you will need to know to pursue the career you have in front of you. In fact, you will discover how much more you don’t know about engineering once you are out of school. My dad also told me that it’s not what you know that’s important. What’s important is knowing where to go to find the correct answer. College prepares you to be able to learn without the structure of a classroom and a teacher. You have to teach yourself once you get your diploma.
What had you choose UMKC?
I knew I was going have to work my way through college, and I didn’t like the idea of going away to school. My Dad went to UMKC in the 50’s, so I was already familiar with the school. As it turned out, not only did my Dad and I get degrees at UMKC, my wife, my brother and his wife, mother in-law and father in-law, and my wife’s brother and his wife, all went to UMKC. There’s 9 of us total.