Preparing for the Unexpected: Engineering and HMI

Growing up in Leadville, I was introduced to HMI when I was about 13 years old after meeting a few of the HMI staff, specifically Kate Bartlett and Katie Baldazar. However, it wasn’t until I signed up for the High Peaks Adventure course in 2004 that I really learned what HMI was all about. After attending the HPA I made it my goal to be accepted into the Semester program. I succeed and returned to HMI for a truly life changing experience.

Since I was one of the local students my experience was slightly different than that of my peers, who were experiencing Leadville for the first time. After the semester was over, I did not return home to only remember my adventures and experiences from photographs. I could still see Mount Massive and Mount Elbert from my window and would sometimes run into my teachers around town. The high desert beauty still surrounded me. While we all have a special connection to HMI, I got to live my connection to Leadville and the state of Colorado each and every day.

Just as I made it my goal to attend HMI, I set my mind on attending the Colorado School of Mines to pursue a Civil Engineering degree, which I completed in 2012. I am currently an engineer for Kiewit Infrastructure’s Underground District. As a new engineer I am being rotated through many different positions. My current assignment is at the Denver VA Medical Center Replacement project in Aurora, Colorado. I am one of the engineers working to earn the hospital a Gold LEED certification, which signifies the building was constructed and will operate in a sustainable and environmentally responsible way.

As an engineer you have to learn not only to understand the principles of how things work but also how to be prepared for the unexpected. Planning ahead and being prepared are two concepts which I truly began to understand and appreciate while at HMI. It was there that I learned that the best way to succeed is through proper planning and execution. Throughout my training as an engineer, I have continued to use what I learned at HMIon a daily basis. HMI is like a well-oiled machine. Everyone works in sync and contributes for the greater good of the community. A construction site is run very similarly. While everyone has a different job, we are all working to build a tunnel, a bridge, or a hospital. The only difference is that, instead of reviewing routes and campsites for an expedition, I now review the play of the day (POD) with my crew. Indeed, much like planning how many meals we will need for our trip, I now plan how many cubic yards of concrete or tons of rebar need to be ordered and placed on any certain day.

Whether it is reading a map, valuing preparedness, or appreciating and respecting nature and its resources, HMI is now a part of my core values. The skills I learned at HMI will forever be a part of my daily life. Each student’s experiences may be different at HMI, but everything we experience cannot be forgotten or taken away, as it becomes part of the foundation of the people we will grow up to be.

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