The structural engineer thrives on problem-solving opportunities | Jobs Vox


December 14, 2022

This paid piece is sponsored by TSP.

Growing up on a farm in southwest Minnesota was influential in Lucas Lorenzen’s decision to become an engineer and remains an important dynamic in his work as a structural engineer at TSP Inc.

Lorenzen earned an engineering degree from South Dakota State University, and he also served in the Minnesota Army National Guard from 2000 to 2009.

“I find that a surprising difference in a fulfilling engineering career is not technical, but in my experience, based in problem solving and decision making,” he said. “Working on a farm, serving in the military, and being at a multidisciplinary firm like TSP have helped me hone those essential skills to a higher level. Communication, clarity of external sharing, and engaging in active listening, make technical work precise. and important to complete.

Lorenzen is one of the founders of TSP’s Innovation Team, an internal group that explores the answers to questions and recommends promising strategies and emerging tools to lead in the 100 percent employee-owned firm.

Lorenzen, who was recently named to a regional list of 40 professionals under 40 who have made a positive impact at work and in their communities, further describes his engineering career.

What drove you to pursue a career in engineering?

Creating and understanding things was interesting to me from an early age. From Lincoln Logs and Legos to helping out on the farm and doing a little construction work as a young kid, I discovered that building was in my blood. I also had some great math and physics teachers in high school. I remember Mrs. Anderson and Mr. Dulas in my hometown of Pipestone, Minnesota. They were able to instill in this often bored student a genuine enthusiasm for engineering and ultimately led me to SDSU and a career as a structural engineer.

What brought you to TSP, and what has kept you with the firm for more than seven years?

After earning my license as a Professional Engineer, I began looking at various opportunities in the Sioux Falls area. A combination of timing and persistence led me to sit down with TSP and discuss a career path that would not only involve developing high-level structural engineering expertise but also provide opportunities in leadership, sales and innovation. More than seven years later, the diversity, level of design quality and opportunities for growth continue to make TSP the right place for me.

Which TSP projects have been most memorable for you?

One of my first TSP projects, the BCom Institute of Technology at Dakota State University, has many aspects of what I consider to be the most fulfilling work we can do. “Heritage” is a word that is continually brought to the forefront at TSP, which is part of the history of our founder, Harold Spitznagel. BCom Institute of Technology is beautiful first of all, but it will be a permanent place of higher education in our region and clearly make it a heritage design project. I stood next to project architect Chase Kramer at the ribbon-cutting and was certain I’d found my business.

Most recently, we have worked with St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Sioux Falls. I remember feeling very young, yet part of TSP’s heritage, when we did a facility-situation assessment on campus, and I reviewed the original 1949 school drawings designed by Harold Spitznagel . Collaborating with St. Mary’s has also instilled a strong sense of responsibility as I have personal connections, friendships and a shared faith that shape my focus to deliver maximum value with all we do.

The Sanford Clinic and Lewis Pharmacy in Harrisburg is one of the most involved and literally close to home projects I’ve been a part of. The role of project leader suited me right from the start. Our team met with a large group of customer representatives, and we shuffled back and forth with the floor plan and strategized.

Taking on the challenge of squeezing more efficiency into the design and making it fit perfectly made the project one we were proud of in the end. Our TSP team was able to facilitate those first meetings, then meet with Feigen Construction and Sanford regularly throughout construction and finally participate in the ribbon cutting and opening it to the public. Driving by every day, and even taking my kids there for a while, brings me a little pride in being a small part of a bigger advancement for the Harrisburg community.

What is your typical work week like?

A typical week for me involves at least two or three projects being in an active design mode, preparing steel, concrete, timber and other structural drawings using structural software and conducting design calculations.

Many other projects are in the construction phase, which means I review shop drawings, make phone calls, and facilitate coordination between our design and the manufactured product. Something will usually come up and require attention or a visit to a construction site to see something for the first time. All of this project work involves collaboration with members of my TSP team.

You have mentored high school students who are interested in engineering. What advice do you give them?

Get out in the field and see how things turn out, learn how to communicate with a group of people to achieve a multifaceted objective, and take the risk of challenging yourself in STEM outside of school. It’s exciting to see Harrisburg and other high schools help students gain real-world experience in professional careers early in their lives.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not at work?

Getting to spend time with my wife, Kelly, and our four children is a great gift. Kelly and I often share a look of joy when one of the kids does something funny or sweet as we watch them grow. We all look forward to spending a week together in the Black Hills every summer.

I enjoy fishing, golfing and horse riding. My dad and I were selected as equestrians in the 2022 Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup, which was the experience of a lifetime. I also enjoy running and completed the Sioux Falls Half-Marathon last summer.


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