Ushik Shah used to watch a lot of television as a kid and it’s actually one of the ways he fell in love with construction in the first place. He admits that what really made him curious about pursuing a career in construction was his favorite television show in high school, Prison Break. One of the main characters happens to be a structural engineer and it opened his eyes to the possibility of a career in the industry, inspiring him to earn his degree in Civil Engineering and later a master’s in construction management.
Ushik’s profession is just about the only thing he has in common with the main character of his favorite show, he has been one of our multi-talented Project Engineers here for the last four years, building buildings that matter instead of finding a way out of them. He is currently working on one of our latest projects, the Washington State Convention Center Addition.
Q: What made you want to work in construction? And why did you want to work at Lewis?
A: I’ve always enjoyed building things from the ground up and mega construction projects have fascinated me for most of my life. I grew up pouring over stories on television of how buildings and bridges came together. The stories where the builders battled some of the toughest challenges were the stories that had me mesmerized. I wanted to tackle some of those challenges and be a part of those stories – that’s what drove me to construction.
What attracted me to Lewis was the people. Everyone I spoke to was super talented, kind and welcoming. I’ve come to realize that Lewis hires some of the smartest people from the industry and perpetuates a warm friendly company culture from the very top.
Q: What is your favorite part about being a Project Engineer?
A: My favorite part about being a PE is the wide range of hats I get to wear – no pun intended. As a PE you get to be a part of all the different phases of construction. You get to see the preconstruction and project management side of things and have a ton of field engagement and see the actual work being put in place. Being a Project Engineer gives you the whole picture of what it entails to build a building.
Q: What project has mattered the most to you and why? What cool detail do you love most about it?
A: I’ve been working on the Washington State Convention Center Summit Addition project since early 2017. The Addition is a massive, complex and eye-catching building right in the middle of downtown Seattle that will be used by millions of people from all around the world over its lifetime. It’s also a public building – which means once it is complete, I get to walk through it whenever! There’s something very special to me about being part of a public project because it will serve so many people for years to come and I can take my friends and family through everything that I had a hand in building.
I would have to say that the coolest detail about the WSCCA is the “Hillclimb”. It’s a magnificent staircase that cantilevers out on the south side of the building with tall glass walls and a beautiful view all the way out to the water.
Q: When you think about building a better future, how do you feel like you’re a part of that?
A: I get to build truly meaningful buildings here and my team always puts their heads together to build our buildings better with every new project. Something that’s highly valued here is employing Lean and sustainable practices to cut down on waste and reduce the environmental impact of construction. We are building cancer research labs, office buildings, convention centers, schools – all meaningful projects that will help build a better future for people in our communities!
Q: What makes you feel fulfilled at the end of the day?
A: Watching a project go from lines on paper to steel and concrete in the real world is the most fulfilling part of the job. Watching something you have spent months planning and coordinating finally become a tangible thing is highly satisfying.
Q: What’s the most fun part about your job?
A: Being able to work with a large diverse group of people from many different companies with a bunch of different specialties is the most fun part of my job. I’ve built a large professional network and found some great friends along the way.
This is the 3rd interview in a 3 part series. Be sure to check out parts 1 and 2 with Renata Popov and Charity MacDowell!