Richard Punt

Alum, Bachelor's
Civil Engineering

How did you first become interested in engineering?
I participated in a high school program called ACE or Architecture, Construction, Engineering. During the program, I learned all about structural and construction engineering and I participated in it for four years. I loved what I was learning there, so I decided to pursue it in college.

Why did you choose UW Civil & Environmental Engineering?
The first time I entered the Structures Lab during my ACE program, I knew this was where I wanted to spend my time as an undergraduate. During a field trip, we broke a piece of steel in a tension test. I still have part of the steel fragments to remind me what I’m here for.

What did you enjoy most about the program?
I really like how open the professors are to talk about their research and ways that they can help students (even undergraduates) with their academic path.

What aspect of the field were you particularly interested in?
I really enjoyed learning about Structural Analysis and Finite Element Methods. I love how Computer Science can be applied to solver real world structural engineering problems.

If you’ve been involved in research, what have you worked on?
I participated in two research projects. The first one was during my sophomore year. I worked on a “salt wedge” and “river plume” project to determine how a salty ocean basin and fresh water moving estuary interact. The second project was when I worked on the Chevron V Braced Frame project, building a life-sized frame to test how small beams act when large lateral loads are placed on them.

What other activities on campus were you involved in?
I really enjoyed my time in Steel Bridge, putting what I had learned in the classroom into effect. I enjoyed being the finance and sponsorship lead my senior year, being able to talk with the people that fund what we do and explain what the program means to each student who participates in it.

Where are you now working? Please describe your job. 
I currently work at Transportation Engineers Northwest in the planning department. We act as a consulting firm to developers, estimating resultant traffic due to new construction projects and determining ways to mitigate impacts. We then summarize it to the city, county or state that has jurisdiction with a Transportation Impact Analysis.

How did your UW CEE degree prepare you for your career?
The CEE department gave me an excellent foundation (pun intended) in all the basic concepts of civil engineering. But above all, the department taught me how to apply my knowledge to various situations. While I didn't know how to write a Transportation Impact Analysis before my job, I did understand technical report writing. 

Any advice for prospective students who are considering UW CEE?
This is a simple one. Talk to anyone and everyone. All the best experiences I have had in CEE have been because I talked to an adviser, professor or classmate. It’s how I participated in both of my research opportunities, why I joined Steel Bridge and how I knew which graduate programs to apply for.