July 26, 2016
Get to know Chad Harden, a Senior Associate at Michael Baker International
Senior Associate | Irvine
What is your role at Michael Baker?
Chad Harden, senior associate at Michael Baker
I am a Bridge Engineer and Project Manager. I am really passionate about bridge and retaining wall design for transportation facilities. There is something fascinating to me about the coordination and structural design for transportation infrastructure, more so than with building design.
What do you find most challenging about your job?
The most challenging part of my job is perhaps juggling a variety of projects – from structures task manager on a large transportation facility to details on other project types, such as flood control or for land development projects. It is a double-edged sword because this forces me to solve problems on new combinations of project and structure types. So the “cross-training” in the end helps me approach all types of projects with new and evolving ideas or approaches.
What has been the most rewarding project you've worked on at Michael Baker?
The I-5 Widening project in Orange County, CA, which I currently am working on, has been by far the most challenging and rewarding project to date. With this project, I have been building on what I do well and tackling a challenge I really enjoyed. Taking on a larger role as structures task manager has been very rewarding – allowing me to work with an expanded group of talented and engaging individuals on a daily basis across four offices.
What does a day on the job look like for you?
I really love coffee, so my day always starts there. For some reason I am hard-wired with a need to work standing up, so you will usually see me working at a planning table on my own, or walking to an engineer’s desk to talk or coordinate in person. Before or after working hours you may see me with a bright silver microphone interviewing for “The Art of Engineering
What made you want to pursue this career field?
In high school I was good at math and science, and I wanted to make the world a better place – so I actually started out as an environmental engineering major. But when organic chemistry came up in my coursework, I knew this was something I wouldn’t enjoy, so I switched to civil engineering and have loved it ever since on both the academic side and in practice.
Favorite TV show?
My favorite TV show of all time is the Alias series by director JJ Abrams. It combines some of my favorite fiction themes: mystery, intrigue and sci-fi.
Last book you read?
“Saturn Run” by John Sandford and Ctein was fascinating – a realistic sci-fi book grounded in what would be possible in engineering and astrophysics now or at least in the next few decades.
What is one accomplishment that you're most proud of?
Over the last several years I have become a member of a few structures committees within the Transportation Research Board (TRB). Integrating into these circles has required some additional effort and patience, but these interactions have assisted in tangible ways to project pursuits. We all have only so much time to invest outside of work – but I am learning that if you can carve out a space for extra-curricular activities such as committees, organizations, etc. that are unique to both your strengths and interests – it will benefit your goals with very little effort or in ways you can’t predict.
What is the number one thing on your bucket list?
I’d love to interview Neil deGrasse Tyson for the Art of Engineering Podcast (www.TAEpodcast.com), and also travel to Ireland.
What’s one thing people might not know about you?
I took a break during freshmen year at college to train at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado for Olympic weightlifting – ending with a win at the junior national championships. I then returned to college at UC Irvine.