Cameren Lewis, A.M.ASCE, is a geotechnical engineer at Campos EPC, having graduated from Drexel University in June. His work involves traveling the country, performing soil borings for testing and design in preparation for future infrastructure. This past fall he presented at the Johnson & Johnson’s Engineering Showcase in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Today’s Member Voice article is an outgrowth of that presentation, as Lewis considers where he’s come from and where he’s headed, with an engineered ethic as the foundation.
An open letter …
You never quite know where you’ll end up when you start your way down a road. Even if it's one you’ve traveled before, there is still much unknown; much yet to be discovered.
“Hi, my name is Cameren Lewis, and I study civil engineering at Drexel University, with a minor in construction management.” This is how most of my roads began in the last five years. I must say it's been a rocky ride, but truly nothing worth having comes easy, right? I am now a Drexel University graduate and work at Campos EPC.
Coming from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, you come across all elements of human life. This has not only shaped me, but in plenty of ways, this is me. And I accept that.
With there being numerous statistics that may convey a horrific picture of my city, there is no shortage of grim roads to journey down. And, unfortunately, many do travel down these dark roads. When darkness engulfs the light and surrounds your world, it is easy to lose hope. However, a lot of times the light to help guide us is still there, just waiting to be found.
As I start my way down a brand-new road, entering society as an engineer, I know that having a solid, engineered ethic will keep me on track and serve as a reinforcing support on which I can properly uphold the standards that are bound to the designation of civil engineer.
Here is why I view ethics as essential to the engineer – for our role in society as a planner, a creator, and that light along the road of discovery.
Ethics is a part of the supporting substrate of any serviceable structure. This also means ethics is something one instills, not discovers. “Structure” to most engineers evokes lovely thoughts of buildings, bridges, retaining walls, the cool stuff. But the definition of “structure” is the arrangement of and relations between the parts or elements of something complex.
Furthermore, the governments for which we vote, the schools in which we learn, and the families in which we grow are all structures. Not merely structures – these are structures with ethics as their keystone component, serving as a bridge for separate entities to interact, communicate, and bond over the chance to develop an increasingly fruitful future for all.
Many seem to be cynical these days about the idea of a better tomorrow. They have good reason, I must admit. There is famine, war, pandemics, inequality, and the list goes on. On the other hand, giving in to the woes of the world is not a mindset I can ever accept.
I know if I had, I may not be here today. Furthermore, it is anti-science, anti-engineer, and anti-human. We are here, if for no other reason, to move things forward and provide a habitable and fruitful terrain for the ones who come after us. I choose to have that view.
I do not ignore the pain of the world; rather, I ponder how to ease that pain and strive to never add to it.
Civil engineering ethics
As I enter the workforce, I am endowed with one of the most precious titles I could fathom: Civil engineer.
As I reflect, a deep breath is taken. What a feeling it all is.
I can’t help but think of all my peers who have joined me down this road; those of us ready to build upon our ethics even if it wasn’t always easy. Children who come from divorce, homelessness, abuse, poverty, and crime. These kids are tough; they are resilient. We are resilient.
As we venture forth, let us remember to put one foot in front of the next and keep our heads high (though not too high; we still must check the sidewalk for spalling).
I will carry myself as a member of society and as a professional ethically. Operating in good faith might not be what I always grew up observing, but it’s how I will build my career as a civil engineer.