This apartment complex in Nashville is one of the projects that Torres-Goitia has worked on with JEI.
A degree in civil engineering can lead to many different careers, and Javier Torres Goitia works in an industry that many civil engineering students may not have considered: glass. He told us about his path to his position as a senior engineer at JEI Structural Engineering, a consulting company that helps its clients use glass to create the buildings of the future.
Growing up in Bolivia, Torres Goitia was always interested in infrastructure. Traveling around the world as a child, he looked at roads, bridges and construction sites and wondered, “Who is the mind behind these?” As he got older, Torres Goitia explained, “I learned that civil engineers are responsible for that. I wanted to be part of that, to have a career that moves society and culture forward.”
Torres Goitia received a scholarship to come to the U of A, and when he arrived on campus for the first time, he knew he had made the right choice. “It was a perfect match,” he said. “I loved Fayetteville. Everything came together.” When he was a senior, Torres Goitia had the opportunity to participate in a Department of Home Land Security funded research program on bridge engineering. This project allowed him to apply and expand the structural engineering skills he had learned in the classroom, and it ultimately became his master’s thesis. Torres Goitia remembers his undergraduate and graduate work with Ernie Heymesfield, associate professor of civil engineering, as one of the highlights of his education. He explained that the technical information he received from Heymesfield’s class is applicable to his current job. “To this day, I go back to my class notes and reference sample problems,” he said.
Steinbrenner Field, another project that Torres-Goitia was part of.
After he received his master’s degree, Torres Goitia chose to work for JEI because he liked the vision, goals and culture of the company. JEI is a small but growing company, currently employing ten engineers. They have plans to triple the size of the company over the next two years. At JEI, Torres Goitia helps clients identify the right glazing system for projects. The field of glass and glazing is changing rapidly. The modern look and energy efficiency of glass means that more of it is being used for buildings. At the same time, ever-evolving building code requirements, new technologies and stringent blast mitigation standards for military applications make the design and analysis of metal framing and glass components a complicated process. On top of that, engineers who deal with glass must also understand the behavior of other materials that are used along with glass, such as aluminum, steel, concrete and wood. Torres Goitia identifies clients’ needs and resources to make sure they get the right products and services within their time frames and budgets.
The interior of this building shows how attractive and striking glass can look.
Because glass is not a material that most engineers study in school, JEI provides on-the-job training and a supportive atmosphere. Torres Goitia, who recently earned his Professional Engineer license in Missouri, explained that one of his favorite things about his job is learning from his co-workers. “Everyone brings experience to the table to share with everyone else,” he said. “I never expected to work for a company that’s so open.” He also admires the company’s culture of flexibility and continuous improvement. When an employee at JEI finds a better way of doing things, the company adjusts. “Things get changed and updated every day, because they are open to that,” said Torres Goitia. “That is ultimately more efficient and productive.”
Eye-catching effects like the sloping glass walls of this building involve precise engineering calculations.
JEI has Professional Engineer certification in 32 states, and some of the projects Torres Goitia has worked on include the George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida, a luxury apartment complex in Nashville, Tennessee and the ESD 123 Professional Development Center in Pasco, Washington. As Carrie Jeske, vice president for marketing at JEI, explained, glass is used for a wide variety of structures: stadiums, high schools, military bases, as well as features such as glass rails and skylights. The company likes to say its projects are “in clear view.” Torres Goitia has come a long way since he stood at a construction site as a boy, wondering who had the difficult and rewarding task of creating the infrastructure our society relies on. Today, Torres Goitia is one of the minds behind the buildings of the future.