It’s a tough economy out there. Graduate engineers are in a better position than most people when looking for a job, but getting that first job is a hard task for anyone right now. But, even with all of the problems facing young engineers right now, they still have some options if they can’t find their ideal position.
There are a few employers of graduate engineers that are always hiring, including:
- Work for a related industry or employer
- Graduate School
- Military Service
- Development and charitable organizations
- Go live at home and help the family
The first option makes an explicit assumption that not everyone will get their #1 choice for a job. This is not really a problem, though. There are still plenty of jobs available in the market, but some graduates will have to expand their concept of engineering.
Many firms that do not receive national press, have poor presence on the internet, and do not recruit at schools actually do very important engineering work. They are more difficult to find, but they can provide a new graduate with their important first job.
Another strategy is to apply for jobs in a related industry or employer. There are many companies that make products, components, or sell services directly to engineering firms. These companies prefer hiring engineers because they understand clients better. Just remember, becoming an engineer is a long process and engineering experience can come in many different forms in the first few years of employment.
Personally, I graduated during a recessionary period after the Dot.Com market fiasco. This was also a time when fewer entry positions were open. I was totally unprepared for this event and didn’t even know what part of the country I wanted to live in after graduation, and I certainly didn’t know where to apply for jobs.
Eventually I decided that graduate school was a good option for me. This decision must me made early in the final year of school, or else it is unlikely that all of the paperwork and testing can be completed on time. Graduate fellowship positions are extremely competitive when the job market is at a low, but sometimes it is worth the additional debt to continue classes anyways. The tuition costs can be paid off later with a stronger resume and a better job.
Military service is also an option. I know several friends and classmates who chose to join the military after graduation instead of looking for a job. It’s a hard decision for anyone to make because of the risks and consequences, but engineers can be a valuable asset in the military.
Experience in the military is a great way for graduate engineers to differentiate themselves when applying for a job. Here in the US, most employers are cognizant that honorably discharged soldiers make some of the best employees and get great training from Uncle Sam. On the other hand, military service is incredibly hard even during times of peace, so the decision should not be made lightly.
Another option beyond military service is finding a position with peacemaking and development organizations. The Peace Corp, Americorp, Teach America, and similar programs can provide a great way to give back to the global community with engineering skills. These programs also carry risk and consequences, so they must be carefully considered before any decision is made.
Moving Back Home
One final option for many graduates is to return home and live with their family. This is a very common action in times of economic hardship. Single family homes typically have an elastic capacity to absorb grown children, pets, married couples and their children. All of the empty apartments, rental houses, and foreclosed homes are good evidence of this happening. The last time this happened on such a large scale was the Great Depression, which forced many families back together.
Moving back home was also part of my strategy for graduate school. I was fortunate enough to grow up down the road from a state engineering school that accepted me for grad school. Not everyone will fit into that circumstance, but many people have families, relatives, or close family friends near engineering colleges.
Most people are often more than willing to have a long-term guest in their house to help out friends and family. The lower costs can make a big difference, as my stipend would have put me well below the poverty line but my free rent gave me the opportunity to eat things other than Ramen.
The Big Picture
Whatever choices graduate engineers make, there are a few key points to remember. The first is that most graduates should find jobs that will support their application to become a Professional Engineer (PE). This means that the job should be managed by an already licensed PE or should be academic in nature. The NCEES licensure page has additional information. Graduate engineers should *never* assume that their job is applicable unless specifically noted.
Also, the first few years after graduation are a time of continuing education. Indeed, this is true for the entire career of most engineers. Engineers must make every attempt to continue learning, studying, and asking questions. As noted in the beginning, not every engineer will find their #1 job waiting for them upon graduation. This is not the time to despair and abandon one’s goals. Instead, work hard to develop into the type of engineer that will qualify for one’s ideal job.
Whatever the future may bring, graduate engineers must take the initiative to learn from coworkers, stay active in the community, join professional groups, read books, play softball and sports whenever possible, and maybe even tackle some collaborative design challenges with other engineers and architects.
As a structural engineer, I get a lot of questions regarding the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings. People want to know if there is any validity to the claims of demolition by explosives. As with anything in life, there are no certainties, but I find the claims of conspiracy to be very unlikely. Consult the NIST website on WTC collapse (and final report here) if you want to see the official accepted course of events based on thousands of hours of research and analysis by disinterested scientists and engineers. For other opinions, consult Structure Magazine‘s archives and search for WTC articles (like WTC 7 and WTC 5).
Just as with the moon landing conspiracy and the Obama is an alien conspiracy theory, providing evidence to debunk the myths does nothing to dispel the rumors. People believe what they want to believe, despite having the ability to reason for themselves. Thus, I don’t think any logical argument or presentation of evidence will change anyone’s minds, so I am not going to present one here. For a good, logical refute of the arguments, see Rolling Stone’s “The Low Post.”
However, I do want to discuss the ethical implications of these beliefs among the structural engineering and architectural community. If someone has not yet decided what happened on any of these occasions, just be aware that spreading conspiracy theories will have a negative impact on one’s career. Basically people will think they are crazy or stupid, neither of which are positive characteristics for an engineer.
An important ethical implication that must also be considered is that the many engineers that have been closely involved with the original design and investigations are essentially being accused of mass murder. Or covering up for mass murderers. These engineers have absolutely nothing other than the highest respect for human life, throwing them into the same category as history’s greatest villains will not win any points.
In fact, a recent debacle at the White House showed that indicating support for these ideas can create professional problems many years down the road. The Green Jobs adviser for the Obama Administration was forced out because of support for 9/11 conspiracy theory. This is a good lesson for all of us to learn. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
Balance. It’s important. And in engineering, it’s non-existent. Women make up less than 10% of the workforce in civil engineering. Indeed, I work in an office without a single female engineer. I find it to be an unfortunate situation. We don’t go out of our way to hire males, but they just don’t materialize when it comes time to hire. My undergraduate engineering class had a majority of women. My lab partner in grad school was Natalie. It has always made me wonder why engineers have such a hard time attracting women to the industry.
The first issue to resolve is whether or not this matters. It does matter. We do need women in engineering. A diversity of opinions is a good thing. Science has also shown that women are more risk-aware, and this is a great quality in an engineer.
Women can also help engineering by providing balance in the workplace. My own experiences are merely anecdotal, but I have found that women engineers do provide balance in the workplace. They are more aware of the social impacts of their design, a key piece of understanding the sustainability debate.
While I am merely writing a post on this issue, there are many people who spend their entire careers trying to help. For example, Society of Women Engineers is a great resource.
For many years, engineers have been trying to involve young women in engineering by encouraging them to enroll in engineering school and providing mentorship opportunities. This has been a good start, but it hasn’t had much of an effect. We need to do even more. I would suggest that we need to focus on the community of engineers.
In the educational environment, groups like SWE have played an important role in establishing groups within colleges and universities. The problem is these groups are not a community. Substituting an environment with a minority of women with one of only women does not fix the original problem. A real community will have a balance of people from different backgrounds of similar proportions as society.
I suppose this might be considered discriminatory, but I would suggest that program acceptance criteria be reviewed. Nobody wants a position denied to them because of who they are, so we must be careful. I propose that programs accept students based on skills that are important in the engineering workplace, beyond mathematical skills. Communication, social welfare work, and teamwork skills are very important, so schools should emphasize those skills in the acceptance process.
Whatever educational institutions may decide, they should not protect or coddle female students. If a student is underperforming, then they should never be given higher grades or special opportunities. This will shatter any community currently existing amongst the students, and will turn feelings against professors.
In the office environment, the issues are much more pervasive. How can anyone change the opinions of an entire society. Women engineers are working against the prevailing winds from day one. These are common opinions that women face:
- women make poor leaders
- women will leave the workplace after pregnancy
- women should not take jobs away from men
- women do not have enough professional clout
- women deserve to be harassed because they are women
A business owner can create opportunities for women engineers by providing a workplace absent of these opinions. A no-tolerance policy on these issues may be painful, but after following through on the first couple of problems then the culture shift will take place quickly.
Other issues that will help retain women engineers involve improving the work/life balance. There is a general reluctance to hire engineers as part-time employees. Many engineering company owners complain about the lack of engineers available to hire, but it doesn’t seem like many of them have considered a new part-time employee arrangement that would allow working mothers to balance work and family life. This could be a low cost, high quality source of labor. In fact, I bet some mothers would work just for the sake of providing quality health insurance for their family and maintaining their own career.
Of course, when it comes to field engineers, I think there are major issues that must be addressed. I think large engineering companies should retain a legal specialist who pursues harassment issues arising from site visits. Once again, a no-tolerance policy goes a long way to maintaining professional behavior, even from an industry famous for tolerating harassment. After a few court appearances, I am sure even a construction worker can spot the developing patterns.
UPDATE: One of my friends suggested that companies can turn directly to the SWE organizations of the schools they recruit from, encouraging female participation in the resume seeking process. He also blamed society for discouraging intelligent women from pursuing engineering school appointments and funneling them into technical schools (his experience from Kansas & Kentucky).
FURTHER UPDATE: Economix has posted an interesting map comparing gender differences in pay. While I did not address equal pay for equal work in my entry above, you can safely assume that women will earn statistically less for similar quality work. How much less? To give an anecdotal example, a good friend recently discovered that out of 112 engineering managers in her company she was number 111 on the pay scale.
This was in spite of having an advanced degree, winning praise and awards for her work and management skills, and completing many successful projects. She was performing at the top and getting paid at the bottom. This could happen to anyone, but it usually happens to women. Talk with your friends, investigate pay rates for your location, or hire a compensation specialist. But don’t assume that your employer will be fair just because you are working hard.
What is a Structural Engineer?
An engineer is a person who applies principles of math and science to solve problems. A structural engineer focuses on built objects that resist loads. Structural engineers typically work in building construction industry, but highway departments, space agencies, airframers, and the petroleum industry also employ structural engineers.
An engineer typically acquires a college degree showing that he or she has mastered the basic knowledge requirements. (see earlier post on engineering education) At this point, the graduate engineer enters the industry as an engineer-in-training or engineering intern and must work as an apprentice to another fully qualified engineer. After several years of gathering experience and passing a professional exam, the engineer is allowed to practice engineering as a licensed professional.
An engineer is obligated to continue learning throughout their career. An engineer’s academic degree does not qualify them as an engineer, it only verifies their willingness and ability to learn. The skills that help an engineer succeed in the real world are learned after their first degree is earned.
What Does a Structural Engineer Do?
The primary responsibility of a structural engineer is to ensure equilibrium between a load and resistance. Engineers quantify loads and resistances using principles of physics or from collected experience (tabulated and published in building codes). Failure occurs when loads overcome resistance. Because knowledge about loads and resistance is never perfect, structural engineers must include additional strength in their designs to account for this uncertainty.
Preventing failure of structural systems is the main goal for a structural engineer, but there are many other constraints that also must be considered such as:
- safety / reliability
- serviceability (limit deflection and drift)
- communicability of design
- interaction of structure with other systems
Balancing all of the criteria requires knowledge, design talent, a toolbox full of analysis tools, and a lot of experience. While most engineers will arrive at similar conclusions when faced with the same problem, each will have their own unique path and put their own “fingerprint” on the project. Every engineer will view the problem through their own set of experiences and perceived responsibilities.
Our final product is a set of plans communicating our design
How Are Structural Engineers Different From Architects?
Simply stated, structural engineers are not architects. While much of the basic knowledge requirements are similar, the role that each professional plays during a project is very different. The architect is the “master-builder” who is responsible for the overall project. Architects are the single point of contact for the client or property owner. They are responsible for assembling a design team that will design the building. Architects often employ outside consultants or specialists, but sometimes architectural firms will have engineers on staff.
The architect devises the shape, size, use, and requirements of the building. In other words, the architect presents the “problem” to the engineer. This is where technical education helps an architect, because it is very helpful to present a problem that has a solution. If the architect is designing something unconventional, it is helpful to involve an engineer early in the process so that the design need not drastically change for the sake of structural issues.
Some professionals are both architects and engineers, taking on both roles. Santiago Calatrava is a good example. His designs are notable for being structurally and visually integrated. His technical background is a great advantage in his work, as he uses structural constraints as a source of inspiration.
One of the greatest differences between an engineer and an architect is how much time they spend on design versus analysis. An engineer takes years of college courses and spends a great amount of time learning analytical methods. In contrast, an architect student will focus on learning design. Little time in spent on quantifying loads and structural systems. Architects and engineers both spend considerable time in each others’ worlds, but usually they do not feel comfortable enough to do the others’ job. Some states allow engineers to sign architectural drawings (and vise versa), but this is not a general rule.
Computers are the engine of modern analysis and design
What Does a Typical Day of Work Involve for a Structural Engineer?
I spend most of my time at work doing structural analysis and design. This is just like they teach in school. The first step is to fully describe the problem, including all known information and preferably including a graphical representation. Careful notes must be kept because as a professional engineer there is a chance of litigation or sometimes you get sick and someone else needs to step in to finish a project. In any case, documentation and organization are very important skills to develop.
project calculations, code references, office papers, and client contact information
Analysis and design, design and analysis. It’s an iterative process. It is made more iterative because projects are always changing. Sometimes part of the project will be getting built while some of it has not even been designed yet. Managing this web of uncertainty requires a goal of adequacy, not perfection. Striving for excellence is different than striving for perfection.
My office does not specialize in any particular type of structure, so projects can range from pipeline crossings and roadway bridges to large office buildings. We design structural systems in concrete, steel, wood, masonry, or whatever material our clients request.
A typical day in the office is not much different for a structural engineer as it is for any office worker. The majority of the day might be spent on “real” work, that is work that involves design & analysis calculations, but the realities of operating a business mean that much of the time engineers are busy with other tasks. That includes organizational inefficiencies just like you see in Dilbert or The Office. But it also includes an inter-office camaraderie that is fun, and in the end the most difficult tasks do provide a sense of accomplishment.
Some of the other important things that happen in the office involve networking or marketing services to potential clients, maintaining professional licensure, and professional development. It’s all part of the business, and most of it is enjoyable if you have the right support from your organization.
Trying to find your vocation in a crowded world is a difficult task. I feel very comfortable as an engineer, and I am glad I found something that fits so well. Unfortunately, I don’t think many children understand what an engineer does, only what we help create. Explaining risk and consequences in the construction industry is advanced learning, well beyond stacking wooden blocks.
It takes a lot of work and schooling to become an engineer. You don’t get to engineer anything until the very end of the educational process. A person cannot just start taking engineering courses in elementary school. It’s a long process, and you must pay your dues.
Realistically speaking, the classes that “prepared” me for life as a professional engineer were my least favorite. Differential Equations, E&M Physics, computer programming, linear algebra, etc. These were courses I tolerated, but they held absolutely no appeal to me. I was not attracted to engineering because of the abstract mathematical principles involved. Far from it, I hated the homework that my professors handed out, assuming it was some arcane form of hazing.
Looking back, I can see how important those courses were in my development. I might still be an engineer without them, but an incomplete engineer with no chance of achieving any level of mastery. Now that I can honestly call myself a professional engineer, however, I readily call on these tools that I worked so hard to acquire. They are much more important than the fancy structural analysis programs that produce formatted reports and colorful graphs. The reason is simply that advanced mathematical knowledge gives one a better understanding of the physical world, and without that understanding one will never be able to innovate.
Many young engineers concentrate on learning skills they consider to be important in the industry. Finite elements, sustainable design, and historic preservation have been especially popular in the past few decades. Just as in previous decades it might have been statistical reduction, soap-film analogies, or proprietary truss designs. Remember to concentrate on the basics, remember to do your homework in mechanics class. You will never be forced to admit you have spent your life learning a skill the world no longer needs.
Sometimes I am asked what importance a Master of Science degree has for a young engineer. The answer is not clear. Just as with any aspect of life, you get out of it what you put in. If you are interested in a 1-year classroom focused degree (Master of Engineering or Master of Science Non-Thesis) and you go into it seeking a continuation of your undergraduate classes, then that is not a problem. You will be well rewarded and will see no loss of time required to get your PE license in most jurisdictions. Soon enough, graduate school experience will be required to even apply for a PE license.
On the other hand, a true Master of Science degree requires a substantial amount of time to devote to a thesis. A thesis is nothing more than your opinion on a difficult to solve problem. It is a great opportunity to wet your feet in the process of creating engineering knowledge. A PhD program is more like a headfirst dive off the top board (speaking merely as a spectator), so a little practice with an MS is probably a good thing.
If you are confused about where to apply for a PhD program (and somewhat for an MS), do not make your decision lightly. School reputation is important in some respects, but nowhere near as important as your ability to find a thesis/dissertation advisor who:
- has funding available for new students
- has a proven track record of graduating his advisees
- works closely with your topics of interest
You will be spending a lot more time with your advisor than anyone else in the school, so that is your most important consideration. Whatever situation you end up in, remember that it is now your own responsibility to ensure your work is completed and you move towards graduation. Graduate school can make you lose your bearings quite easily, so you must maintain a professional attitude and keep your eyes on the prize.
In several trade magazines I have seen stories written to a business manager audience arguing that green/sustainable initiatives are worthwhile because they help attract and retain young engineers. Apparently young engineers have this concept in their unstable heads that they would like to help create a world that is more enjoyable and just.
I certainly agree with that, but I think young engineers are looking for something more important than the opportunity to specify pervious concrete on a future job.
What attracts and ultimately retains the best employees is the strong leadership and proven adaptability that firms need in order to make cultural transitions. Changing policies within an organization requires an effective leadership structure. Adaptability is very attractive to young employees. Nobody wants to work in a bureaucratic nightmare of a job where their efforts to make a difference are absolutely wasted.
When companies refuse to change or refuse to adapt to the realities of the industry, then it won’t be able to attract nor retain quality employees. Hard decisions must be made, and in companies where nobody is able to make these decisions it is clear that the company is paralyzed by fear of action.
The important point here is that going green is just a tactic, but not a strategy, to compete for the best engineers. The marketing of green designs is only a fad; in 10 years from now it will be merely boring policy and yet another item on the code checklist. But innovative, bold companies will already be revising their image to adapt to the next big thing on the horizon.
No, this isn’t one of my strange ideas, it actually exists. R. Buckminster Fuller and a photographer collaborated on a book that, to my knowledge, is the only extant children’s book (amazon) written from a structural engineer’s point of view.
It is an interesting book, if not short and unfocused in its selection of quotes. I selected my favorite for the scan above “If you want to do something good for a child… give him an environment where he can touch things as much as he wants.” I am not quite sure if this is something I will actually read to children or if it is something I read to remind myself that I was once a child.
R. Buckminster Fuller left a deep legacy, and definitely opened options for architects and structural engineers. The USPS issued a stamp for him in 2004 commemorating his contributions to society.
One of the key things I learned in architecture school (in a former life) was to keep a journal with thoughts, ideas, and neat things you find walking around. You never know when inspiration will strike, so having a safe place to collect these flashes of insight is incredibly important.
The journal started in grad school is now retired
I have kept writing the journal, although it became an engineering journal when I switched majors. At that point, it became much more textual rather than visual, but I am a literal person so that made things easier. Now that I am retiring a journal and moving to a fresh clean one, a process that only happens once every few years, I wanted to share my thoughts about journal-keeping.
No editing allowed until the ideas are written down
Over the years I have accumulated plenty of things to write in my journal. Putting it down on paper helps to lock the concept into my brain, usually to the point where I never needed to consult the written words again. But it is essential to write it down, because if I ever lose the idea I can always go back to refresh my memory.
The new journal, a nice leather bound gift from the wife
Many of the ideas presented on this website were once just a line or two written in my journal. A high percentage of the ideas are abandoned because they can’t all be winners. Essentially I agree with the quote “If you want to have a good idea, get lots of ideas”.
There is a level of self-editing that needs to be done, and the journal plays a key role. There is absolutely no editing in the journal, everything can be written down. Bad ideas are given just as much attention as prima facie brilliant ones. Preparing the thoughts to be presented on the website requires a much more significant effort, so in the end you only choose the topics that can be presented effectively and are actually interesting.
Architects are basically required to keep a journal in school. However, it doesn’t even get a mention in engineering curriculums. It should. As an engineer, one’s most important resource is creativity. Don’t risk losing all those great ideas!
The skyline of downtown Indianapolis
Tall buildings are a source of civic pride. They represent technical ability and economic power. Modern cities are defined by their skyline. Young engineers dream of adding their own touch to the cityscape. Tall building construction occurs in phases, and the most recent phase has probably died with the deepening recession. It may be 5 years or 5 decades before the next tall building trend. Tall building designers are a specialized group and are typically well positioned ahead of the start of the next trend. Unfortunately, this means that most engineers will have more experience with a skyline matrix than any actual famous tall buildings.
Construction of the newest Indianapolis hotel tower
For some reason people blame architects and engineers for the lack of tall buildings in their city. Certainly, architects and engineers have become more comfortable with taller buildings as time has passed, and taller heights are easier to achieve. New structural systems, new materials, and new ways to prevent swaying action has led to consistently taller buildings over time.
Throughout the twentieth century US engineers and architects led the way, but now the world is outperforming the US in terms of tall building construction. In fact, the number of foreign tall buildings built in the past decade is staggering. US construction continues along a slow trend but the rest of the world significantly outpaced the US in speed and total numbers of skyscrapers.
I can honestly say it is not our fault that the US is not building skyscrapers as fast. The design expertise for most of these tall buildings has come from US designers, so there is no doubt that the US is still leading the way in technical design. But there is still a feeling that the US is losing some sort of race to assert itself in the international economy.
In reality architects and engineers in the US have no influence over developers and their decisions to build new skyscrapers. No, the demise of US domination over tall buildings has been due to continued suburbanization. The American Dream has killed our cities.
Local market forces determine the height and size of buildings much more than any conscious design decisions. Iconic towers are even more rare than simple tall buildings, because there is a premium on design and construction for a truly unique building no matter what size it is. Developers are not willing to risk such a huge investment unless there is a clear chance for profit. For an in-depth study on this issue, consult The Economics of Super-Tall Towers (full text PDF available) published by CTBUH.
Basically, there are two considerations for developers:
- How much additional square footage is profitable in the current market?
- How big is my plot of land?
To get the height of their new building, they take the total square footage they want to end up with and divide it by the size of their plot.
Smaller plots are difficult for two reasons. The building must be taller for the same square footage, and the slenderness ratio makes the structural system more expensive. Developers are very happy with smaller buildings. They are less expensive, the elevators take up a much smaller percentage of the floor plate area, and they are not terrorist targets (easy to insure).
Companies are reluctant to sponsor construction of a new building these days. Especially with an on-going recession and plenty of leasable space available at inexpensive rates, very few are willing to risk the wrath of shareholders for the headaches of owning an iconic building.
All of this means that there must be a great, compelling reason to build tall. Here in Indianapolis, people desperately want the skyline to fill out. However, there are so many empty parking lots that developers will require a lot more demand before they are willing to take a risk on the premium costs of tall buildings.
Taking Indianapolis as an example, building more tall buildings may not be in our best interest. First, let us assume there is sufficient demand for more leasable floor space. For a tall building in a downtown so centered around car commuting, each tower must have a large parking garage next to it (or under it). In addition to the space lost to the garage (and any existing buildings that are cleared to build it), the road system must be expanded to accommodate the new commuters. Instead of densifying the downtown area it is now spreading out, losing nearby businesses in order to accommodate transportation of workers.
Basically, tall buildings are most appropriate in a dense, urban environment. If the downtown relies on car commuters, it cannot achieve the density necessary for successful tall buildings. Ignoring this caveat, certain communities have achieved tall building construction in a suburban area, but the buildings are out of context and at their base are nothing more than an attempt to draw attention and proclaim relevance as something they are not.
This type of environment is an entirely new invention. Drivers leave from their garage at home and drive directly to their garage at work. The need for roads and garages spaces the buildings apart so far that no infill development occurs. It is not an urban environment, it is a suburban environment with a sense of inadequacy. And I suppose if that is what people want, they can have it. But it is just as authentic as the EIFS clad southwest style grocery store sitting behind the hundred acre parking lot.
In order for a skyscraper to contribute to a dense urban environment and really make a difference in the local economy, a few items have to happen:
- all existing buildings must be leased at profitable rates (Indianapolis is not there yet)
- all existing surface lots must be converted to income producing leasable spaces, typically of a low rise density (Indy is at least one decade from this step)
- a public transportation system must be in place that can collect and distribute people from around the city to a single point (Indy is probably three decades from this)
If these requirements are not met, then asking for more tall buildings is just asking for a failed development. You can’t even give away a tall building downtown right now. There is just no demand to fill it.
So, if you are a fan of urban spaces and want to see more investment in your skyline, here is a simple recipe:
Don’t just take up space, take up space in the central core. Without a strong demand for leasable space, no additional supply will be built.
Look for work options downtown. Petition your office decision makers to locate in the central core. Once again, this increases demand and makes it an easy decision for the city and developers to move forward on their plans.
Use public transit options
Without public transit, cars will need to be parked and moved around. This dramatically reduces density, and makes tall buildings less viable. Pedestrian options are reduced as well.
Support local business
The businesses most likely to lease space in that shiny new building are local ones.
Support infrastructure initiatives
Expect to pay higher taxes. The extra costs associated with the urban core are manifold, including security for tourists and commuters, reconfiguring water & electric services, and caring for indigents. Don’t be upset about it, because this is the cost of society. For when someone isn’t paying their share, the rest of us must pay it for them.