#Eweek2023 Spotlight | Brandon Besser

Engineering to great heights.

For National Engineers Week 2023, we’re sharing stories from Cushing Terrell’s engineering talent to learn more about how they chose their profession and what makes them tick, and to help inspire the next generation of engineers!

Who or what inspired you to be an engineer?

I wish I could say I have a good story of how I became an engineer, but it really just happened because I didn’t know what I wanted to do in college. I was good enough at math and science, so I followed my Dad’s advice and just kept taking these classes, figuring when I failed out of one, I would know my max. Fortunately, I decided on engineering before I failed any classes!

What is your area of expertise and why did you choose it?

I’m a structural engineer. I didn’t like problems where things moved, so the mechanical door swung shut. I didn’t feel like I really understood my second electrical engineering class, so electrical was a bad connection. I didn’t care for chemistry, so chemical and materials didn’t get a good reaction. And I didn’t understand thermodynamics at all, so I came up cold there. That left me with civil engineering, and I intentionally chose structural, which has been pretty stable.

What is one of your favorite projects and why?

Any of them that get designed and paid for, but never built: the perfect project. In all seriousness though, all of them once they are complete. There’s something really satisfying about seeing a project you’ve worked on go from being a bunch of lines on paper to being solid and something you can experience. One project that will always stand out for me is the first Google office in downtown Austin. It was a lot of hard work, but the end product was amazing. I wish more people could see it in person.

Pictured is one of the feature staircases at Google Gates in Austin, which was designed to look like a floating boulder with the stairs inside. The boulder uses a skeleton of structural steel suspended from the floor above and clad with neolith panels.

Tell us something about the field of engineering that is surprising or not common knowledge.

For structural engineering, it would be the amount of time you spend drawing things. Everyone thinks it’s nothing but math, but I spend more time drawing than any of my artistically inclined friends.

What is the most interesting/strange thing someone has asked you to ‘engineer’?

We hung some old theater seats from the ceiling in an office once; that was an interesting request and a great example of reuse. Anything friends and family ask to have designed is always interesting. No matter what the design is, they just do it how they want instead, which always strikes me as strange.

What can you not help but engineer in your life?

Everything in life is engineering to some degree. All engineering is just problem solving, and life is a problem-generating machine.

What piece of advice would you give a young person interested in becoming an engineer?

Give it a try. If you like math and science, there’s a good chance you can find an engineering discipline that will fit your interests.

Brandon at a Glance

  • Structural Engineer
  • Living in Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Defining characteristics: Honest, level headed, and I don’t take myself too seriously.
  • Interests: Home brewing, hanging with my cats, working on my house, snowboarding during the winter, rafting and canyoneering when it’s not snowing, and cruising around on my motorcycle.
Brandon rappelling “The Cathedral” in Pine Creek Canyon, Zion National Park.
Brandon (far left and face down), exhausted after the day’s canyoneering; it’s much more strenuous than engineering.

Read about the other engineers we’ll be highlighting for National Engineers Week 2023!