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Scott Consulting ...Engineers take on responsibility of public trust

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by Clarissa A. French

SBJ Staff

Richard Scott, of Scott Consulting Engineers PC, has some insight about what it takes to be a professional engineer.

What it takes is education and experience, state registration and an appreciation of the huge responsibilities involved.

An engineer must "get a four-year degree in engineering, then work for four years, then you're eligible for the professional engineer test. If you pass that, then you're registered to do business as an engineer," Scott said.

That's when the responsibility kicks in. "We really have responsibility to a client, but being registered as professional engineers, we also have responsibility to the public. In fact, our first responsibility is to the public for their safety, health and welfare even above and beyond our responsibility to the client," Scott said.

Qualifications, not cost. The work consulting engineers do is serious in some cases life-and-death serious. That's why state law requires cities to hire consulting engineers based on their qualifications, not on the price of their services, Scott said.

The reason for this selection process, called qualification-based selection, or QBS, has to do with the nature of engineering projects, which are often "complicated and not well-defined," Scott said. When a project is undefined, it is impossible to assign a dollar value to the services to complete it.

There are three phases to a consulting engineer's work, Scott said, the study and preliminary design phase, the final design phase and the construction phase.

In the first phase, the engineer defines the project's scope and proposes alternatives for making it a reality. After the client chooses a plan, the final design phase begins. In this phase the engineer creates the construction documents the plans and specifications by which the project will be built.

The construction phase encompasses the bidding of the project by contractors, oversight of construction to ensure the plans and specifications are adhered to, and a final walk-through of the finished project before the owner makes final payment to the contractor, Scott said.

As he explains the role and responsibility of the professional engineer, it is evident that engineering is more than a vocation for Scott. It's a calling.

And it's also a family affair. Scott said he first became interested in civil engineering in college, following the example of his brother, Ron, who is also a civil engineer. Scott's son, Kerry, is continuing the family tradition as a professional engineer at Scott Consulting.

Getting started. Richard Scott began his career after graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1967 with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. He went to work for a large consulting firm out of Kansas City, and "While I was with them, I went back to school (at Mizzou) and got my master's degree in civil engineering," in 1970, he said.

After leaving the Kansas City company, Scott became director of public works for the city of Olathe, Kan., for three years. "I wanted to try the public sector," he said., an experience that convinced him "I really like consulting better."

Scott then accepted a position with a Springfield consulting firm in 1976, working there for six months before going into business in partnership with a local architect in 1977.

In 1980, "I split off and started my own consulting firm," Scott said. He began his solo career "working with smaller cities, serving as their city engineer, and working with architects. One of the first clients I had was the city of Branson in 1980. I served as their city engineer until 1988."

The position of Branson city engineer was not full-time but more on an as-needed basis.

"If there was a reason to represent them from an engineering standpoint, I represented them." Scott also engineered several projects for the city, including the wastewater treatment plant, Shepherd of the Hills Expressway and several road projects, he said.

Scott Consulting continues to serve as city engineer for several area communities, including Ava, Republic, Waynesville and West Plains.

The company's service area extends to clients within about 100 miles of Springfield, Scott said. The company employs a total of 36 people, including 14 engineers, six surveyors, six computer-aided design and drafting technicians, a landscape architect and support personnel.

Specialization. Scott Consulting's area of specialty is civil engineering. "Civil engineering is pretty broad-based. It deals primarily with infrastructure roads, traffic, water systems, sewer systems, storm drainage and structural engineering of buildings, bridges, dams, high retaining walls, any type of structure like that," Scott said.

As a civil engineering firm, Scott Consulting has three primary types of clients, starting with "local government city, county and school districts."

A major project for the city of Springfield was the Erie-Ferguson stormwater improvements, for which Scott Consulting received an honorable mention in the Consulting Engineers Council of Missouri Engineering Excellence Awards (see related story on page 19).

Scott's second largest client group is developers. Scott Consulting handled the engineering work for John Q. Hammons' Highland Springs and Dearborn Development's Chesterfield Village, Scott said.

"We start with the layout of lots and streets, then utilities, water and sewer, and we do surveying, too," via the company's in-house surveying staff, he added.

The third major group of clients the company works with is architects. For example, architect Michael Sapp, of Sapp Design Associates, has hired Scott Consulting to "do all the structural design foundations and footings, supporting frame and roof systems" for the new Nixa High School, Scott said.

Current projects. Scott Consulting is working on a number of projects, among them the expansion of wastewater facilities for the city of Republic.

This includes an addition to the existing treatment plant, plus an 80,000-foot sewer collection system. The project, with a budget of $14 million, will enable the city to continue to grow, Scott said.

Other projects include water treatment plant improvements for the city of West Plains; ongoing development work for Chesterfield Village and the Northern Lights Southern Charm subdivision; sewer extension projects for the city of Springfield; and the study and preliminary design for the River Bluff Parkway project.

Scott Consulting is also providing engineering services to the architectural firm of Lohmeyer-Russell on a new Courtyard by Marriott at Kearney and West Bypass, a project that will be made possible by the city's sewer extension project in that area, Scott said.

In addition to the responsibilities of his job, Scott is also treasurer of the Consulting Engineers Council of Missouri, a professional organization focused on the business of engineering (see related story on page 21).

INSET CAPTION:

The firm works with local government, developers and architects in its practice

PHOTO CAPTION:

Professional engineer Richard Scott started his own civil engineering practice in 1980 after previously working in the public sector.

PHOTO CAPTION:

This large box culvert is part of an award-winning design by Scott Consulting to stop flooding in the area of the Erie and Ferguson sinkholes in Springfield.[[In-content Ad]]

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