Engineers Week Spotlight: Chris Ralph, PE

How has the industry changed since the start of your career? 

Development regulations have become more restrictive and defined since the start of my career. Cities and counties have adopted progressively more design standards and regulations to better plan for growth, impacts on roadways, schools, water and sewer use, and continuity of development. Stormwater management guidelines have also become further defined, requiring civil engineering designs meet stringent drainage and treatment requirements for removal of pollutants, controlling runoff, and flood prevention. This has made the industry become more accountable for the impacts of new developments.

What do you get out of engineering that you couldn’t get from any other kind of work?

The ability to be involved with a variety of projects from inception through design and construction. Land development projects require civil engineers to work with a team of clients/developers, planners, surveyors, building and landscape architects, environmental engineers, regulatory agencies, and construction contractors. Civil engineering involves field/site exploration; design and calculations; client, design team, and jurisdictional meetings; and construction site visits. Every project is different and comes with a variety of challenges to solve; civil engineers get the satisfaction of seeing a project through design and construction.

What BGE project have you been involved with that had the most significant impact on your career? 

I’ve only been working at BGE for just over 9 months, so I haven’t had the opportunity to work on a large number of projects just yet. However, since starting at BGE, our team has been working on a commercial development that has had some difficult engineering design challenges. This particular site is located within a floodplain and also involves wetland impacts. The project team was able to provide a comprehensive design that reduces wetland impacts and provides floodplain compensation, all while maintaining an accelerated schedule and meeting the client’s design goals.

How do you stay updated on the latest technological advancements in engineering?

As a senior project manager, I am not as involved in using technologies such as CAD and stormwater/drainage modeling software daily as I did earlier in my career. I stay current on the latest technological advancements in these tools by working with and learning from BGE staff members who are experts in using computer software throughout the design process. For technological advancement within general civil engineering and land development, I am engaged in professional societies and associations and attend training seminars, brown bags, and workshops. I also review engineering publications.

What’s your favorite geeky or nerdy hobby outside of engineering?

A geeky hobby outside of engineering would be studying Google Maps and Google Earth areas around the world. I’ll also review Google Maps before going to a new location so I have a sense of direction and understanding of how to get there and where points of interest are located once there.