Joshua Paquet, PE
CHIEF HYDRAULIC STRUCTURES ENGINEER
Joshua Paquet, PE
CHIEF HYDRAULIC STRUCTURES ENGINEER
“Genuinely hearing clients when they speak about issues and partnering to resolve them is paramount to the project and the working relationship.”
Born and raised in Michigan, Gannett Fleming’s Chief Hydraulic Structures Engineer Joshua Paquet, PE, possesses a well-balanced set of skills for inspecting gates and other hydraulic structures. Here, Joshua explains the state-of-the-profession, as he helps clients struggling to fill vacant job openings with qualified candidates and address the gap between entry- and senior-level professionals.
We asked Joshua a few questions to get to know him better:
What led you to become an engineer?
Like many students with an aptitude for math, it was likely I would become an engineer. But for me, civil engineering was tangible. Everywhere you look, you see something that a civil engineer has touched. Having the opportunity to impact people’s experiences in the world excited me. Once I earned a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from Michigan Technology University and became and an engineer, I descored a joy for working on the less visible, more hidden, and abstract aspects of engineering.
What is one professional achievement you are particularly proud of?
I’m goal-oriented and have achieved both a Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians (SPRAT) certification and open-water SCUBA certification. I’m proud of both certifications, because when I am developing recommendations for how a client can maintain an elevated or submerged hydraulic structure, those recommendations are based on me having seen them up close. These skills help me to be a better engineer.
What is next on your list of goals?
Although I am based in the Midwest, I have the opportunity to work on projects across the country—including in the West. Next on my list of goals is to obtain my California professional engineer license by early 2022.
How is today’s workforce shortage impacting your career?
Because there is a huge gap in mid-level professionals, the opportunities to work with industry legends and enhance my skills are tremendous. I have the chance to work more closely with clients as they face these issues. Fortunately, I’m soaking up all the experience as we collaborate and navigate this unprecedented time in our country’s workforce.
What have you learned from these legends?
When working with clients, it’s not essential to be the smartest person in the room, but it is necessary to be the best listener. Genuinely hearing clients when they speak about issues and partnering to resolve them is paramount to the project and the working relationship. Also, I’m not sure young professionals recognize the intrinsic value of building relationships with clients. Establishing credibility and earning trust is a journey.
I have also discovered that I’m adept at working with operations and maintenance (O&M) personnel to help them maximize their budgets and plan for future maintenance and repairs. For example, some hydraulic steel structures have cyclical inspection requirements—say every 10 years. Much of the maintenance being conducted on these structures is a result of the observations made during these obligatory inspections. I have found that many facilities can benefit from developing a more proactive approach to managing their aging infrastructure. By doing so, they can extend the life of their assets while reducing the likelihood of larger capital improvement projects along the way.
You have been with Gannett Fleming for six months. What has surprised you about the company?
The Geotechnical, Dams, and Hydraulics Business Line is a highly technical group devoted to each other both professionally and personally. The family nature of the team and company has been terrific. For example, our team is spread across the country, yet the level of collaboration—even while working remotely—has been fantastic. In my experience thus far, team members are willing to stop what they are doing to help one another.
When you’re not working, what do you do to unwind?
I enjoy playing the guitar and recording music. When I was a kid, I started playing music on my dad’s old drum set. But once I picked up the guitar, I was hooked. I have been playing for nearly 20 years, and I enjoy playing all types of music, including jazz standards, rock, blues, and country. I like it all! I also enjoy spending much of my free time outside. Now that it is fall, it’s a beautiful time of year for hiking in the Midwest.
If you could pick up one new skill in an instant, what would it be?
From the outside looking in, I’m intrigued by the great challenge of becoming a pilot. Imagine having that highly refined skill that would allow you to be free to explore amazing areas. My wife and I love to travel. I’m sure if I had my pilot’s license, we would enjoy extended weekend trips to fun locations.
What three words would your friends and family use to describe you?
I’m almost always doing something, so “busy” is a word that comes to mind. My family says that I’m “driven,” and I’ve also been told that I’m “even-keeled.”
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