Choosing to Help a New Engineer

A few years after graduating as a geotechnical engineer, I was sent to a site in Okinawa to conduct field explorations for an offshore airfield adjacent to a Marine base. After returning, I was asked to present a talk about this project to Chicago Engineers Club luncheon meeting. I initially refused, never having given a talk to a group of engineers. However, after being told that the luncheon group was not geotechnical engineers, I reluctantly agreed. Much to my surprise, Ralph Peck was in Chicago the day of the talk and attended the luncheon. My confidence sank to a low level, but somehow I was able to stumble through the presentation. Afterwards, Ralph came to the speaker stand, shook my hand, and told me how much he enjoyed the presentation. My confidence hit a new high and I never forgot this incident. It also left me with the knowledge that Ralph, being the real gentleman, could have criticized much of what I presented, but instead chose to help a new engineer.

Robert G. Lukas, P.E.

This letter is an excerpt from the Geo-Strata Feature on Professor Peck, Geo-Strata September/October 2008.