Michael Simpson, P.E.
NSPE Western & Regional Vice Chair for
Professional Engineers in Government
Member Since: 2000
Job: Senior Environmental Engineer for the City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works, responsible for administrating the federally mandated pretreatment program for companies that discharge pollutants in the liquid wastes stream. Also leads the pollution prevention program and environmental educational outreach to high school students.
Why I became an engineer: At a very young age, I was intrigued by the way nature and manmade things work. I took many devices apart and killed many plants investigating the inner working parts. As I progressed through school I excelled and had passion for science and physics courses. My math skills were average, but I strengthened my background as much as possible before college, since I wanted to become an engineer.
My favorite subject in school: Biology in high school and physics in college.
What prompted me to get my PE license: In order to enhance my career opportunities, I had to passed the PE and also [for] the sheer challenge.
My biggest professional role model: A courageous division manager that provided growth opportunities and challenging assignments to accelerate the development of my technical and managerial skill set and leadership style.
My hobbies: Youth basketball, gardening, jazz music, and slow-cooked outdoor foods. I am fascinated by nanotechnology and its potential and the rapidly growing field of bio-mimicry.
My favorite book: The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman is one of my favorites, and I am currently reading Quantum Leap Thinking by James Mapes.
My favorite movie: Drumline by far—I enjoy the battle of the bands.
My favorite vacation spot: Silent Valley near Palm Springs.
My proudest engineering accomplishment: The City of Los Angeles has provided rich, diverse, challenging opportunities during my career, and it has been a great place to work. The majority of my career has been spent as a project engineer, and I am proud to have led the design and construction of many infrastructure capital improvements, but the one that stands out in my mind was the $5 million Automated Cesspool Dumping Facility that presented many technical and contractual challenges. I have had a chance to do engineering management, and I am also full of pride and pleased to lead and contribute to two project management manuals (Project Delivery Manual and Project Management Guidelines), both used extensively in the City of Los Angeles for capital and environmental "green" projects.
What I consider to be the greatest engineering feat: Locally it would be have to be the Hyperion Treatment Plant, one of the world largest clean water facilities, but on a national scale, I would go with the Hoover Dam. After taking a tour of the dam, I cannot fathom the amount of technical situation the engineers had to overcome to build this marvelous structure.
Why I joined NSPE: Initially I joined NSPE to assist me as president of the Los Angeles Council of Engineers and Scientists (LACES) while staging Engineers Week activities. NSPE was very supportive and provided contacts and materials for LACES to have a successful EWeek, which culminated in a banquet celebration. Now NSPE provides a platform for me to seek low-cost training, opportunities to network, and refine my technical and leadership skills through participation with NSPE state societies and engineering interest groups.