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A Day in the life of an Engineer

Feb. 29, 2016

Meet Alicia Bailey

Current Position: Team Leader & Civil Engineer at Sain Associates, Birmingham, AL 35243, United States


I serve as the team leader of our transportation team.  My day to day activities vary depending on which projects we are trying to progress forward on that day.  Sometimes, my day is interrupted with “fires” that require immediate attention to remedy an issue that has arisen.  I do not enjoy “fires” and try to avoid them with proper project planning and management.


I manage a group of five people – project manager, assistant project manager, senior designer, designer, and construction inspector.  A large part of my day is spent answering questions and directing my staff on tasks and activities that need to be accomplished on projects.


I am the project manager on several of our projects which include transportation planning, environmental planning, roadway design, drainage design, and pedestrian and bicycle accommodation designs.  I also have several projects which require assistance and inspections during construction.  Being the project manager, my prime responsibilities on a daily basis are to manage the scope, schedule, and budget.  This requires meeting with my project team and client on a frequent basis and determining the next steps to be accomplished.  I also review plans on frequent basis to confirm the design is progressing as it should and help provide solutions if problems should arise.


I talk on the phone and/or meet with clients, utility companies, and approval agencies on a daily basis.  I write a lot of emails and proposals.


Being a project manager for an engineering consulting firm requires you to know your projects, the design requirements, and the process for project approvals and permitting better than your client so you can advise them on how the project should progress.  You have to stay on top of the project: always know its current status and next steps, and be proactive on resolving any problems.  You never want to surprise your boss or your client with issues such as a changed design, missed deadlines, or cost overruns; therefore, frequent and effective communication is required.