Sharp as a Tack

We Have a Winner!

We women in the foundations industry may have lots of questions about how to forge ahead in our chosen positions: When do we draw the line with suggestive comments from co-workers? How do we reconcile ourselves with the sacrifices necessary for life balance? How do we know if our gender is affecting our advancement within a company? If we could never wear cute shoes again, would we give up this career?

What is not in question is the fact that we have a community of truly outstanding women.  They are smart, they are funny, they are creative, and they can tell a really good story. We so enjoyed reading the many exploits and adventures of our Underpinnings friends, and determining a winner for our contest required a long and politely contentious conversation among the Underpinnings staff. But our winner was clear, and we’re so pleased to announce ….

Lori Simpson, Vice President and Principal Engineer at Langan Engineering and Environmental, is many fabulous things but most notably a very interesting person.  She obtained a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Stanford and a Master of Science in Geotechnical Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley, so she’s earthy AND crunchy. Lori worked long and hard to move up the engineering ladder, along the way amassing a wide and variable catalogue of geotechnical experience.  Oh – and she successfully raised several human beings along the way.  (Note: Lori, of course, is only 27, so we felt it important to note that her kids matured VERY quickly and were fully raised by the age of 5. No one is suggesting that she’s over 30).  Currently, she slays seismic dragons and conquers soft clay demons in the San Francisco area.  In her free time, (which is between 2:12 AM and 2:23 AM every third Thursday of the month), she’s a mover and shaker on the DFI Codes and Standards Committee.  She also has devoted much of her life to an in-depth research project intended to provide proof that an engineer can be married to a geologist and not get bored.

This week, Lori’s most impressive accomplishment is that she made us laugh.  And she’ll make you laugh, too.  Enjoy her story.  She will be enjoying a fabulous basket of goodies right after Christmas.

Lori’s Story

After graduate school, I got married and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where my husband was going to attend graduate school. Things in the Land of Enchantment work a little differently than the San Francisco Bay Area, where I came from.  My first introduction was in my first interview for an engineering job:  I put on a dress and heels and all 5’ 1/4” of me showed up at the office of a small geotechnical firm.   The boss looked at my fancy resume, and with amusement on his face, said he wasn’t sure I could do the job. As he looked me up and down, he explained that dirt was involved.  I assured him that I was aware of the job description of a staff geotechnical engineer.  I am not sure what got into my head—I guess it has something to do with the fact that I could bench press 145 pounds and felt the need to prove myself—I offered to do push-ups in his office! He declined and offered me a temporary position (he was a 3-person operation and didn’t need a full-time staff engineer).

One of the projects I worked on with him included drilling borings outside of town.  Think hilly desert landscape with no facilities.  At one point I needed to pee, so I told my boss I would go up the hill and find a secluded place to go.  I am a backpacker, so no problem peeing “in the woods”…..er, well, actually peeing in the cacti.  Yes, as I squatted down I misjudged the distance of my behind to the nearby cholla cactus. YEEEOOOOWWW!  It was like the cactus saw my ass coming and, with glee, ejected as many spines as it could.  Did you know that they have barbs on them like fishhooks?  i.e. NOT easy to remove. I removed as many as I could, pulled up my pants, and gingerly walked back to let my boss know what happened.  Of course, he howled with laughter….but was also sympathetic. We wrapped up our work as quickly as possible, and headed back.  I could barely sit in the truck on the way back to the office.

P.S.  We’ll be giving you a belated Christmas present next week when we run the story of our first runner up, Lucky Nagarajan, of Skyline Steel.  Many thanks to all who entered!

5 Responses to Sharp as a Tack

  • haha too funny Lori! And may I say… you don’t look a day over 25!

  • Ouch! I enjoy reading underpinnings – I have read every one!
    One common thread that I would like to see dealt with is hiding or being embarrassed of our age. Please break through the age discrimination barrier! This article jokes that Lori is 27. Why lie about it? Or even make a joke about it? Or even mention it? Well of course a VP of Langan is older than 27. With age comes experience and wisdom, so why can’t we age gracefully and OWN IT? Let’s respect the years of hard work and not try to turn the clock back. ONWARD!

  • Congratulations! Your story definitely got me smiling this morning and brought few memories (peeing in nature) back.

  • A good chuckle indeed. Thank you for sharing, Lori! And thanks to the Underpinnings artist for the sketches – they are so cute!

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