Early career spotlight: SDSU engineering grad pivots from design to construction

by Sara J. Gillis, Director of Talent & Workforce Development
Published 01/21/2020

Tell us about yourself, including where you are from, why South Dakota State University was the right fit for you, and what led you to pursue the major you selected at SDSU.

My name is Brian Eiesland. I grew up Brandon, SD and spent the majority of my young life playing sports year-round. I chose to attend South Dakota State University because it had the larger university atmosphere I desired while still being located close enough to home where I could see my family whenever I wanted to. I enjoyed math and sciences growing up, and they came easier to me as I took more courses in high school, so I knew that engineering would be a good choice for my college studies. After doing some research on the different types of engineering, I chose to study Civil Engineering because the thought of designing the infrastructure that the public uses on a daily basis really intrigued me.

Tell us about your work experience after graduating from SDSU in 2014, including what your days look like as a Civil Superintendent for Journey Group.

After I graduated college, I got a job at an engineering design firm in Sioux Falls, SD. In my five years at the firm, I helped to design various transportation projects all over South Dakota. I also performed inspections on construction projects in the summer. That is when I recognized that I wanted to switch to the opposite end of the spectrum and build the work instead of design it. Being outside every day was the right place for me.

I was hired on as a Civil Superintendent for Journey Group in July of 2019. As a superintendent, it is my job to ensure the project progresses as smoothly as possible while delivering a product to the client on time and on budget. My daily activities involve managing my team, planning ahead to get the supplies needed on-site, ensuring the plans and specifications are being followed as the project progresses, and managing any subcontractors a job may have. I thoroughly enjoy being able to see a project from start to finish and having a happy client at the end.

How did your SDSU education prepare you for your career? As technology continues to advance and traditional industries are changing, what do you think the future looks like for SDSU graduates pursuing careers in construction management or the engineering field?

The SDSU Construction Management and Engineering programs are spectacular. The professors, facilities, and students I got to know along the way are second to none. Technology is a huge part of the construction field. The days of writing daily diaries on paper are coming to an end. iPads are being used for progress photos, diaries, tracking of materials, and so much more. The equipment we use is also advancing every season. Excavators, bulldozers, concrete pavers, and many other pieces of equipment are coming with GPS enabled so that they can react with elevations set within the plans; this saves contractors a lot of time and money.

What career goals do you hope to achieve in the future, and why is Sioux Falls a great place for engineers not only to launch their careers, but also to grow and develop professionally?

A future goal of mine is to be the superintendent on a new bridge build in the area. I think that it would be fulfilling to be part of such a detail-orientated project from start to finish. I also hope to help Journey Group continue to grow and do more and more work in South Dakota.

Sioux Falls is a great place to live and work as a young professional. The job opportunities here in my field are outstanding, and I enjoy all of the amenities of living in a larger city that allows me to feel at home.