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“Jack of All Trades”

Updated: Dec 14, 2023

One of the more common expressions we have all heard, in reference to taking on job assignments, is the one that goes: “Jack of All Trades, Master of None”. With reference to the scope of work inherent in all projects, this phrase would apply to the specific engineering skill sets and experience we bring to that job.

As engineers and businessmen, we like to accept new challenges. Not only can they be financially rewarding but they also present an opportunity to either hone or expand our base of knowledge. At TOK Engineering we are mechanical, structural, and civil engineers and, within those disciplines, like to think that we are pretty good at what we do. However, not all jobs fall neatly within those singular categories. For example, the appearance of certain types of cracks in concrete basement walls accompanied by water ingress might certainly suggest a structural issue relating to the building’s foundation. Is there a build-up of hydrostatic pressure on the outside of the walls? Perhaps the issue is more related to soil drainage than to building structure. Are screw piles required to be installed to re-support and re-level the affected wall? If so, how far down do they need to go and what is the long-term nature of the existing soil into which they must reside?

The answers to such questions are not necessarily only within the domain of the structural engineer. The engineer must accept that their knowledge base can take them only so far and be prepared to reach out to others to collectively solve the problem. In this case, a geotechnical engineer may be needed to inspect and advise on “underlying” soil conditions. On the other hand, it might only require a competent landscaper to effectively re-slope the soil’s grade away from the foundation.

The engineer who knows to reach out to other professionals or tradesmen for advice to come up with the most effective solution is the engineer who will perform the greatest service for their customer.

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