Alumni Highlight: Shawn Bates ’16 Civil Engineer

Alum Shawn Bates leans, smiling against a stair railing in professional attire.

Shawn Bates ’16 graduated from Hope College with a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering with a concentration in civil engineering. Upon graduation, Shawn joined Fleis & VandenBrink Engineering as an E.I.T., or Engineer in Training. The E.I.T. is a common designation for entry level civil engineers. E.I.T.s have completed their educational preparation. However, they still need to accrue work experience before becoming licensed Professional Engineers. Shawn initially performed construction inspection on various projects, such as, roads and bridges. He then began transitioning into the office, where he performed various design tasks and assisted with client management. Since then he has continued to execute duties in the areas of design, inspection, project management, and client management.

In the fall of 2017 Shawn began pursuing his Master’s Degree in Business Administration at Davenport University while continuing to work full-time. He completed his MBA – Strategic Management program in the spring of 2020. He also became a Certified Manager (C.M.) through the Institute of Certified Professional Managers. Shawn is now preparing to take the Professional Engineers (P.E.) exam in order to become a licensed professional civil engineer.

The following are excerpts from a recent correspondence with Shawn.

What do you find most exciting or interesting about the work that you do? 

What I find most interesting about my work is the wide variety of projects I have been a part of. Going into the engineering field, I was concerned about being pigeon-holed into a limited variety of projects/tasks. From the very beginning this could not be further from the truth. My employer has given me opportunities to see a wide range of projects. Some of the projects I have worked on include sea wall improvements, a tunnel design for a private developer, and load ratings for bridges throughout the state of Michigan. Other projects I have contributed to are public utility asset management, underground utility design with street improvements, and inspection of sand/gravel mining operations.

What are some activities at Hope that helped shape you as a person?

Plying football at Hope College certainly shaped who I am today. Many of my closest friends also played football at Hope. My college football career was short-lived, but it was filled with meaningful life lessons and development of team skills. While at Hope I also tried out for the baseball team. This took a tremendous amount of effort and determination. In the end I did not make the team which served as a tough, but very beneficial failure that only motivated me more in the engineering field. I also assisted with the construction of the Formula SAE car which was full of valuable lessons. Working as a team with one common goal is something I do on a daily basis!

What aspect of your engineering education at Hope was most beneficial?

The smaller classes really helped me understand some of the most crucial engineering principles that I draw on today. Also, the education was no walk in the park! The rigorous curriculum pushed my limits and I would not have it any other way!

Can you comment on the liberal arts aspect of Hope?

The liberal arts aspect has enhanced my communication skills greatly. My employer has taken notice of this, and I have been able to take on more client and project management tasks as a result. It is important to have that well-rounded education.

What advice would you give to current students?

Join a club that interests you early on! Establishing yourself in a team/club setting will set you up for success in the future. Also, start early looking for summer internships.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *