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Minority Engineer Magazine, launched in 1979, is a career- guidance and recruitment magazine offered at no charge to qualified engineering or computer-science students and professionals who are African-American, Hispanic, Native American, and Asian American. Minority Engineer presents career strategies for readers to assimilate into a diversified job marketplace.

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 Lightfoot Uses the Latest Tech to Design the Future at McCarthy

As virtual design and construction manager at McCarthy Building Companies, Inc., computer systems are critical for Shannon Lightfoot and the construction sector.
“The construction industry is starting to heavily adopt technology solutions that make traditional tasks much easier to complete. The fact that we can be connected and share 3D models with our design partners and owners instantly enables us to improve communication and collaboration,” says Lightfoot.
“Nearly all of our building systems coordination meetings on projects are using a single multi-discipline model hosted on the cloud to discuss conflicts and resolutions. This helps speed up the design phase process so we can start building much faster.”
Computer systems aren’t just ever more essential for this sector. They make Lightfoot’s work ever more enjoyable.
“What I enjoy most about my job is that I get to help people solve problems and create efficiencies by utilizing the latest innovations in technology. Traditionally, construction hasn’t been a technology-focused industry, but recent advancements in hardware and software have made it more commonplace and practical.”
Technology is the cornerstone of Lightfoot’s role. “My role as virtual design and construction manager for McCarthy’s Southeast region is to provide direction, training and support to job-site personnel for building information modeling technology usage,” he explains.
“What I love about my job is that I have the opportunity to help our partners solve construction challenges and address inefficiencies using technology. This helps us provide better quality projects and makes for a much better client experience.”
Lightfoot rode one great wave of computer systems to his current role.
“Back in 2009, when I was only three years into my career in the construction industry, I was asked to redirect my career path to embrace a technology role that was, at the time, undefined. The industry was just beginning to integrate building information modeling (BIM) into the process, and I had very little knowledge of where this industry shift was going,” he remembers.
“I started to engage with industry professionals, relied on peers and attended industry events to get the most BIM knowledge I could find. This gave me more confidence to apply the technology to my projects and understand how it affected the way we work.”
And today he looks back and sees how far “we’ve come from those early days and realize by stepping up to the challenge, I’ve had the opportunity to learn, and help lead our company and industry in this area.”
Lightfoot urges those still in school to step up as soon as possible: “The best advice I can offer students is to get on-the-job experience. This hands-on knowledge is irreplaceable. First, you get to see and experience how your class content and curriculum is going to be applied in the real world. Secondly, it gives you the opportunity to confirm this is the career path you want to take moving forward.”
In fact, the construction engineering professional practiced what he preaches.
“Majoring in architectural engineering, I did an internship during my undergraduate years and quickly realized I wanted to shift from a design-focused career path to a construction-focused one,” Lightfoot shares.
“This would have been difficult to realize had I not completed an internship before graduating.”
And consider a career at St. Louis, MO-based McCarthy, where you’ll own a piece of the company.
“What I love most about McCarthy is our company culture and the fact that we are 100 percent employee-owned. These two really go hand in hand because the work each employee-owner puts in every day directly affects the performance of the company. This accountability inspires us set expectations high, making it a win-win for ourselves and our clients,” he notes.
Lastly, Lightfoot relishes knowing that his work matters. “The best advice I’ve received is to make sure you enjoy what you do. Don’t get me wrong; construction can be stressful at times, but it gives me pleasure to know what I’m doing on a daily basis is making a difference in my region, for my company and for our clients.”
Make your way to mccarthy.com/careers for McCarthy job paths. Connect on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.
 
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