As a result of our moving, I have taken a position of Senior Technical Writer with Bentley Systems, Inc. Specifically, I’ll be working with software in the structures group. In the past three years, Bentley has acquired several big names in structural engineering software: REI (STAAD), RAM International, and more recently TDV GmbH (RM). I think that a number of engineers were surprised to see this move by Bentley (at least I was), particularly given the perception that STAAD and RAM were major competitors. However, as I’ve learned a bit more about the company and what the direction of the structures group appears to be in, it has become clear that they have in place a remarkable suite of structural applications. What’s more, they are position themselves to provide software for virtually any structure type or size. Along the way of polishing the elements to build this toolbox, they are integrating all of them so they are better equipped to work in the future world of Building Information Modeling, which is the new hotness in the construction and engineering world.
So, let me back up a bit and explain how I got here.
Though I have to admit it felt at first like taking a long shot at the time, I sent out some resumes to some engineering software firms to gauge their interest in hiring a structural engineer to work remotely. I was pleased when two companies, including Bentley, were interested. I did my best to learn all I could about the positions and products of both (I have been a career user of the products now in Bentley’s line, though). After learning more about what they had in mind for both their software and this position, I realized that this was indeed the correct career path for me. To put another way, I believe that while both are excellent positions, I wanted the job I felt was not just a good fit for me but a great one.
It is a bit daunting to leave behind a career in design, but at this point it really feels like the natural background for the work I’ll be doing in the future, rather than a total career change. The knowledge in design and working in a consulting office will be indispensable as a technical writer as well as to serve as a liaison between engineering clients and software programmers; getting to talk to them about what they’d like our software to do and present to them how they can achieve that.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about being so apprehensive about total life changes. Well, when this job came together, something inside me clicked and everything just felt right. It’s not most people’s idea of a dream job to work mostly at home writing and talking about engineering software, but it kind of is mine. I’m genuinely excited about the work I’ll be doing as well as the company I’ll be doing it for; one that really seems to be providing a great set of applications and is moving the industry forward in terms of technology and how to benefit designers.
Also, for the first time in my life, being a nerd isn’t a social drawback; it’s a lifestyle and a marketable skill set.