#Eweek2023 Spotlight | Shane Gerkin

Living out the ethos of constant curiosity.

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. 

Who or what inspired you to be an engineer?

The ability to create and build things is what drew me to engineering. Learning the skills to create something from nothing was quite powerful. Engineering is much more than just math or science. There’s a lot of creativity that can be applied once you have the fundamentals down.

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

I was drawn to mechanical engineering initially based on how many different areas you could go into. When I was a college freshman trying to figure out a career path, a degree with wide applicability was appealing. It allowed me to try different fields, from solar cell research to vehicle manufacturing, before ultimately settling on construction.

Do you have a passion project or initiative you’re working to advance?

I’ve always been an advocate for sustainability. That’s what drew me into the building industry because construction has a large impact on the environment. Working to improve the sustainability and health of the building industry is an important initiative of mine. Our buildings shape so much of our lives and making them better can have long-lasting positive impacts on our communities.

One of Shane’s current projects is the Aspen Lumberyard Affordable Housing neighborhood, a planned mixed-income housing development on 11.3 acres adjacent to the Aspen Airport Business Center in Colorado. In 2017, the City of Aspen developed a detailed Climate Action Plan that serves as the guiding framework for the city’s ambitious goal to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050 to meet global climate reduction targets. It was important to align the Aspen Lumberyard project with this goal as well as the community-identified priorities. Being in alignment with climate goals and reduction targets sets an example that it is possible to achieve these ambitious goals in affordable housing and creates a path to follow for other projects.

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

How important communication, writing, and verbal skills are for an engineer. You often need to distill down complex systems into easier-to-understand statements to others who are not in the same field. Being able to articulate your reasoning for the problem you are solving is pretty important.

What are your defining characteristics as a person?

I would say my need to learn new things and solve problems. My learning didn’t end with school, and I’m fascinated by many different fields and areas. Soaking in new knowledge is a constant in my life, as well as being open to new ideas and challenging previously held assumptions.

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

Explore different areas to discover what you like and don’t like. Understand that learning is journey, not a destination. Always be curious.

Shane at a Glance

  • Mechanical Engineer
  • Living in Denver, Colorado
  • Defining characteristics: Constant need to learn new things and problem solve. Always open to new ideas and challenging the status quo.
  • Interests: I enjoy just about everything outdoors: hiking, camping, waterskiing, volleyball, snowboarding, flag football, and more. I also have a podcast called Green & Green. Check it out!
Catching the sunrise on top of Mt. Whitney in California during a seven-day backpacking trip.

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