D|F Benchmark Series – Andrew McWilliams

Andrew McWilliams, PE is a senior transportation engineer at Davis & Floyd and has been with the company for 3 years. With a large responsibility for Davis & Floyd’s QA/QC, he has also grown his skills and experience in writing. We were able to get Andrew’s perspective on engineering and his career experience in the following interview.

Professional Questions:

  • What is your favorite part of working at our company?

    The people. When I joined Davis & Floyd, I was drawn to the genuine connection and family-oriented atmosphere that sets it apart from my previous, more corporate experience. Here, it’s not just a job, it’s about the people, and that’s exactly what I was looking for!

  • What is one thing that surprised you about your current role?

    It’s not so much as what has surprised me as much as challenged. Unlike my previous experiences, I find myself delving into more extensive writing tasks, particularly in crafting and tailoring proposals. This involves a deep dive into past proposals, understanding what has been done, and adapting them to align with our current projects. When it comes to proposals, you’re flying in the dark, unsure of the outcome as you’re simply trying to write about your team to win the project.

    What you learn in school for engineering is the post-proposal work, how to use CAD, and design solutions. Now, I’m doing the pre-design work by writing about our team to win projects.

    The project manager role has also been a learning curve. I’ve learned to effectively manage my own time, and now I want to take on the challenge of helping manage others’ time.

  • What is one thing that you wish people knew about your job?

    The time it takes to research things. Sometimes as a professional, people assume you have everything figured out, but the reality is that the job is about knowing where to look and utilizing the right tools for comprehensive research. You have to know how to manage expectations while taking time to gather and create the best answers for them.

    Also, implementation. Like research, it requires a considerable amount of time. Everything is constantly changing, and you have to keep up with the change.

  • What are you most proud of in your career so far?

    I enjoy seeing the projects once they’ve been built. What I find particularly rewarding about engineering is the opportunity to address real-world challenges and provide solutions. Something I’m very proud of is the design of the interchange leading to the Buc-ee’s in Florence, SC.

    Being involved in the designing of the interchange for such a significant development is profoundly rewarding. I drove on it for the first time last year, and seeing a project that I had only known on paper come to life was surreal. It shows the tangible impact that engineering can have on shaping and improving the physical world around us.

  • What’s unique about your team/sector?

    I never did any Design-Build at my previous company. Since joining Davis & Floyd, we have done more Design-Build work. It’s fast paced, and I like it. These projects allow us to work directly with contractors, which allows us the opportunity and value of seeing the construction process. As engineers, we design things from standards and regulations, but being able to work with the team that will physically build the road or bridge gives us insight into how things are put together in the field and will improve our design process. The collaboration between the design and construction teams not only adds efficiency to the process but also strengthens our ability to provide effective solutions and support, ultimately contributing to smoother project execution and fostering lasting partnerships.

  • What is the most interesting project you have worked on with Davis & Floyd?

    Design-Build Bridge 14. The pace at which you produce the project is a different level. You’re on call each week for the same project, ready to assist contractors at any time, which adds a different level of responsiveness and engagement. Challenges and opportunities will arise that lead to great personal and professional development.

  • What are your goals for the next few months/years?

    My primary goal is to become an invaluable resource for both the Columbia and Charleston offices. Becoming the go-to person for brainstorming ideas and providing transportation support as well as assuring and developing a better QA/QC process. Making sure we’re presenting the best version of our plans minimizes comments, navigates changes seamlessly, and keeps our projects on schedule.

    Additionally, I’m aiming to take on more of a role as a project manager. This involves not only overseeing the efficient execution of tasks, but also managing teams to optimize the overall project process. By stepping into this leadership role, I hope to contribute to the continued success of our projects and foster a collaborative and streamlined approach within the teams I manage.

Personal Questions:

  • What is one thing people do not know about you that they would be surprised to find out?

    Until my niece was born, we had 15 boys across my siblings and me. For 107 years, there were only boys in the McWilliams family. Now, thanks to my brother, we’re flooded with girls and couldn’t be happier.

  • What is one thing on your bucket list?

    I’d love to travel to every continent. So far, I’ve been to South America, North America (obviously), and Europe. I have been to New Zealand—so near Australia, but not quite there yet.

  • What would you eat if you had to eat only one meal every day for the rest of your life?

    A breakfast casserole with sausage, egg, cheese, and grits.

  • Any other fun facts?

    I’m an avid golfer. Every year, I go on a big family golfing trip with my dad and brothers. This past year we went to Bandon Dunes in Oregon.