Joseph S. Schuster, SE, PE, is a practicing structural engineer licensed in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Illinois. He obtained a bachelor of science in civil engineering from Cornell University and a master of science in structural engineering from Stanford University. Currently, Mr. Schuster works for the national engineering firm Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, where he is involved in the structural design and renovation of steel, concrete, masonry, and wood buildings. He has also worked extensively on projects involving the repair and adaptive reuse of historic structures and has investigated several building collapses.
Mr. Schuster is the Author of
16-Hour Structural Engineering (SE) Practice Exam for Buildings, the most realistic practice for the SE exam.
What inspired you to become an engineer?
As a kid I was inspired by visits to the top of the Sears tower and the awesome views of Chicago’s skyscrapers. Also Legos. But everyone says Legos.
Structural engineering is rewarding because it requires a deep technical understanding of mechanics and building codes, yet still allows for creative solutions within that framework. It’s also incredibly gratifying to be able to walk around a city and see the buildings that you helped create—the tangible and lasting testaments to long nights in the office.
What is the best advice you can give to others who are pursuing an engineering career?
The most important element to a successful career is finding a firm with great people: supervisors that you can learn from, and co-workers you like hanging out with—maybe even after work.
Is there a particular project that you were involved with that was an exceptional experience?
Early in my career I was involved in the renovation and seismic retrofit of an historic townhouse in New York City’s Greenwich Village. The project involved adding two new stories above the roof and a new swimming pool below the existing basement. I think I learned more on that project than any project I’ve worked on since.
Are there any interesting/surprising facts that others may not know about you?
I used to be a Junior Olympic springboard diver, until, at the age of 15, I went through a growth spurt and could no longer keep up with the competition. This was an unfortunate way to learn about the concepts of moment of inertia and angular momentum.