What makes up a company are the people themselves, and it’s worthwhile to gain insight into why individuals do what they do. What motivates them to come to work everyday? What are some of their greatest accomplishments? Meet James and Sanaa and read about two of our outstanding engineers.
Why did you choose structural engineering as a career?
James Donahue, Design Engineer: In my freshman year of high school, for one of my first projects in an engineering class, I built a small tower out of balsa wood. I had to determine how much load the structure could hold. After finishing it, I just knew I wanted to design structures and put myself on the path to do so.
Sanaa Anini, Design Engineer: I chose to become a structural engineer because I knew a structural engineer growing up who designed amazing projects. Also, I’m really good at math. But the reason I decided to stick with engineering is that the field challenges me everyday. Problems come up that require critical thinking, knowledge and the use of engineering principles to solve them. It’s so interesting and fulfilling when I see projects that I have helped design actually get constructed.
What was your education and past experience before coming to KNA Structural Engineers?
JD: I graduated with a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in December 2015. Prior to working at KNA, I had internships with two general contractors, Granite Construction and Anderson Burton Construction.
SA: I graduated from Damascus University, in Syria in 2008, with a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering. I worked for The Ministry of Local Administration until 2012. I obtained my Master’s degree in Civil Engineering from California State University, Fullerton in 2015. I joined All States Engineering and Surveying in 2014 and worked with them for two and half years before joining the KNA Structural Engineering team.
What’s been your favorite project while working here?
JD: My favorite project has been the new La Habra High School Performing Arts Center. It was a challenging project due to the many intricacies involved in the design of the center. It was very rewarding when the project was approved by the Division of the State Architect (DSA).
SA: I have been given the opportunity to work on a variety of interesting, challenging and sizes of projects such as: repairing a partially dry-rotted glulam girder, seismic evaluation of an existing church, designing steel canopies, single-family residence additions, upgrading schools’ HVAC systems and designing sports-lighting poles. My favorite project has been the Apple Valley High School barn. I’ve invested significant time and energy into designing steel trusses and special moment frames and it has been great to see them progress through the various stages of development. I’ve also collaborated with numerous members of the company so it provided me the opportunity to get to know the team and appreciate working with them.
What would you consider to be your dream project?
JD: To design my own house.
SA: My dream project is one that offers me the opportunity to utilize my creativity to problem solve and especially to learn and grow in my discipline. I especially find it fulfilling to create something that I can actually see built and that I was part of its creation, especially if I am to make improvements to the status quo.
What’s been the most rewarding experience you’ve had in your career?
JD: It’s having my first large project getting approved by the DSA. It’s great to realize the many hours of studying and hard work I put into college has turned into something real.
SA: The most rewarding experience has been to see how engineering principles that I learned in school can be used to overcome real-life challenges that improve the lives of people.
What role do you foresee technology playing in the future of structural engineering?
JD: I see that technology continues to improve the quality of work that allows for better collaboration between structural engineers and other disciplines.
SA: Technology advancements in structural design will allow engineers to produce a higher quality product in a much shorter period of time than previously possible. It will also provide multiple options and optimized designs. After all, good engineers can design a structure by hand if they wish to, it just takes a lot more time and they would need to make many conservative assumptions.
What do you enjoy most about working at KNA Structural Engineers?
JD: Coming into work each day knowing that I have a great team to support me.
SA: I appreciate the KNA culture that promotes a friendly, collaborative environment amongst talented engineers. Everyone is extremely approachable and is willing to help each other.
What is something we don’t know about you?
JD: I was a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician for several years in my hometown of Allendale, New Jersey.
SA: In my free time, I enjoy photography. I am thinking of taking a course one day.