Haskell’s structural engineers took in a St. Louis Cardinals game during their recent three-day-long summit.

July 12, 2023

Structural Engineering Summit Fosters Collaboration and Camaraderie

Forty Haskell team members from across the nation gathered at the St. Louis office for three days to gain knowledge and form meaningful connections.


Virtual collaboration has become the new normal, but no Zoom meeting can replicate the serendipity and camaraderie that sprout and grow naturally during in-person networking and knowledge-sharing events.

The differences were on full display recently when about 40 Haskell structural engineers from across the country gathered at the St. Louis, Missouri, offices of Benham, a Haskell Company, for a three-day summit where they heard from experts, compared notes and networked.

“Working in teams virtually is great to a point, but to see someone face to face and joke with them makes working together really go,” said Joshua Young, Director Lead Associate - Structural, who organized the event.

The three-day agenda included sessions such as subject-matter and peer roundtables, company and organizational updates, technical and discipline-specific presentations and a tour of the Canam Steel Corporation facility. There were also cookouts, dinners, recreational activities, a visit to the Gateway Arch, and an evening in a suite at a St. Louis Cardinals game.

Haskell structural engineers rode the tram to the top of the 630-foot-tall Gateway Arch.

The event was a first for Design Engineer Jade Short of Oklahoma City, who joined the company fresh out of college in June 2020 when remote work was mandatory because of the pandemic.

“I enjoyed the summit on many levels,” Short said. “It was very informative from an engineering standpoint. Being in the same room with senior engineers and collaborating and brainstorming was really helpful.

“The other thing was putting faces to names. I had heard of several people but had never had a conversation with them. I got to talk with Bobbie [Wood] several times. She’s awesome. And I got to work with a couple of people and see how they do things.”

Short said she particularly enjoyed the tour of the Canam manufacturing plant, where they saw steel joists under construction.

“I was actually seeing things I’ve put on drawings,” she said. “That was amazing.”

Short said the Major League Baseball game was her first.

“It was very fun. I got to go in a suite, and that was awesome,” she said. “And the barbecue was had was phenomenal. I loved everything I tried.”

Ryan Duchanois, who joined Haskell in January 2020 straight out of college, also got a lot out of the Canam visit.

“We use them in our designs in almost every project,” Duchanois said. “It was amazing to see how they got into the design based on what we put on our drawings, how they make them, welding the steel, painting, the efficiency of the process. It helped me understand what they wanted from us and opened a line of communication. I know I can call them.”

Duchanois said the informality of the conference helped break the barrier between team members and supervisors.

“You have to have difficult conversations with them sometimes,” he said. “But when you can strip work away, you find out they have had some of the same experiences I’m going through.

“Over the last couple of years, we’re growing so much. Remote workers are more common. It’s much easier when you meet face to face and have shared experiences. There are no boundaries now. We have a history. I can pick up the phone and call anyone on my team, and I’m more comfortable. It allows us to have collaboration. It’s so worth it to me.

“The young engineers’ roundtable was fun, talking to other young engineers about our common issues – workloads or organization. It was interesting meeting people from St. Louis, Oklahoma and other places that are not strictly design-build and hearing about their experience. What’s difficult in our job isn’t what’s difficult for them.”

Senior Engineer Steve Zengel, who works from his in Clearwater, Florida, home, echoed his colleagues’ appreciation of the personal connections made and gave the location a thumbs up.

“It was good to spend time and get to know people on a personal level,” Zengel said. “They said they’re going to rotate the location of the conferences. It’s going to be hard to beat St. Louis with barbecue and baseball.”

Haskell is hiring! Explore the many options available to join a growing company committed to educating and developing team members, enabling them to have the BEST job of their lives.

Haskell delivers $2± billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 2,200 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.

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