November 15, 2022
The Engineering Consultant's Luck of the Draw

I was speaking to some long time friends the other day and we got to talking about engineering budgets in major projects.

I told them that in my experience it works like this.

The Owner gathers a team together for a new project and they are all enthused. This time, they say, they are going to watch the budget and get it right.

The first contract they write is to the engineering consultant. So, they call the usual suspects in, vigorously negotiate a contract and award it to the one they beat up the most.

When projects are over, and one analyzes the results, they will find they spent as much on transportation and insurance, not combined, but separately, as they did on engineering. And, when they negotiated transportation and insurance, they largely accepted the prices without any negotiation.

The "luck" of the engineer is that they were first while the team was fresh. They had no chance to do anything innovative, for it is all about the price of their work, not the overall price of the project.

I have seen this happen twenty or thirty times in the last 52 years. It leads to mediocre projects. Time to stop it, folks.

What is your opinion? Drop me a line at I would like to hear from you.

Young Engineering Manager of the Year, call for nominations

We are looking for an individual who has done an extraordinary project, one that almost defies belief. Its extraordinary features can be schedule, technology, cost or all three. There is an age limit on the manager eligible for this award: they must be under 35 years old when they completed the project.
We have often gotten nominees that go something like this, "I nominate Joe because he has done a great job of running our engineering department for the last fifteen years." Quite frankly, we are not interested in such nominees.
However, if you know someone who has led a very exceptional project in the recent past (the last two or three years) and meets our age requirement, we want to know about it. We want to honor them and hold them up as an example for Engineering Managers in every pulp and paper mill around the world.
Just send your nomination, with as much details as you can provide, to We will seriously consider it.
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