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21TEDSTARTEDHISENGINEERINGCAREERASABUILDEROFTREEFORTS.THISSHOTISFROMALOCALPUBLICATIONTHATFEATUREDASTORYONHISTALENTS.21Allengineersareproblemsolvers.ForstructuralengineerslikeCarlsonthebasicproblemisgravity.Whateverhumanbeingserectwillinvariablywanttofalldownintime.Factorinhumanerrorandcarelessnessorassaultsfromtornadosandearthquakesanditsawonderanythingwebuildsurvivesforlong.ThisshakystateofaffairsisthesolidfoundationofCarlsonscompanyStructuralDynamicsInc.StructuralDynamicsisauniquermintheregion.AlthoughthereareplentyofbuildingcontractorsintheareaonlyStructuralDynamicswithitsin-houseengineeringexpertisecanhandletheinspectiondesignandexecutionofcomplexstabilizationprojects.TeddescribesatypicalscenarioAhomeownerseesacrackinhisfoundationandfearsasettlementproblem.Hecallsacoupleofpieringcontractorswhosendoutsalesmentolookatthehouse.Theyshootsomeelevationsandpredictablyrecommendverycostlyxes.Alicensedstructuralengineerapproachestheproblemquitedifferently.AhomeownercallsmeintodoaninspectionCarlsonsaysandIcanassessthewholebuildingincontext.Itsatime-dependentfunction.Oneinchofsettlementinaweekisaproblemoneinchin20yearsisnotabigdeal.Theexpertisetoevaluateastructuralproblemandproposecost-effectivesolutionscomesfrombothrigorousformaleducationandalifetimeofcuriosity.AgraduateofSouthernIllinoisUniversityCarlsonspracticaltraininginproblemsolvingbeganlongbeforecollege.WhenIwasgrowingupIbuilttreefortsinthewoodsandplayedwithLegosherecallsbutthatwasinthedaysbeforetheycamepackagedinkitswithinstructions.Iwasalwaysguringouthowthingswork.ButwhatreallydistinguishesStructuralDynamicsisacomprehensivebusinessmodelthatarosefromCarlsonsentrepreneurialinstincts.IwasworkingatanengineeringcompanyinGlenviewCarlsonexplainsandIstartedbiddingsomeoftheprojectsthatthermhaddesignedrepairsfor.Iddothejobswithmyfriendsontheweekendsandprettysoonitstartedgettingtobetheweekendsplusacoupleofdaysduringtheweek.FinallyIendedupgoingoutonmyown.TodayCarlsonstilldoestheengineeringanddesignworkandsupervisestheconstructionside.SUCCESSSomewhereahouseissinkingafloorjoistisabouttogiveinandacabinwithaspectacularviewiseversoslowlyslippingintothelake.TheseimminentdisastersmightsoundlikejobsforSupermanbutwhattheyreallycallforisastructuralengineer.TedCarlsonmaynothavex-rayvisionbuthecanstillspotsomescaryproblemsthatmostofuswouldmiss.Whencalledforhecanalsocometotherescue.