Kyle Baumann needed a bookshelf.
The then-freshman could have picked up one of those cheap plywood and cardboard shelving units from a big-box store and been done with it in a flash, but that’s not how his engineering-type brain works.
Instead, Baumann consulted with a friend, bought a few tools, made a rough sketch and built one from scratch.
“It’s still standing, and it’s still in my room,” he said. “It worked out well.”
That wasn’t the end of his carpentry. Now a senior in the University of Missouri–St. Louis/Washington University Joint Undergraduate Engineering Program, Baumann has continuously acquired woodworking tools throughout his studies. He’s made a desk, an entertainment stand and cutting boards. He’s starting to branch into traditional, all-wood joinery and selling smaller items.
“I like just the whole figuring out the geometry of it,” he said. “I almost never draw it out, but I usually know what I want, and then I take it step by step. Usually, the bad thing is that I run into one major problem on every project and then have to adapt to it, but I enjoy the adapting.”
“Geometry” and “figuring out” are frequently referenced entries in Encyclopedia Baumann.
But their most-prolific use occurs when Baumann discusses his civil/highways engineering internship with Jacobs Engineering Group. Since starting in 2017, he quickly found that he enjoyed the work and loved the firm, and the feeling turned out to be mutual. When he graduates this spring, Baumann won’t be doing the interview scramble: Jacobs has already offered him a job, which he happily accepted.
“With what I’ve done over the past two years, I have a year’s worth of hours,” Baumann said. “That’s what’s a first-year engineer would do, so I’m coming in basically as a second-year engineer. I’ve been super fortunate.”
Baumann’s always had it in his head to be an engineer. He remembers his parents mentioning engineering and roadway design when he was a little kid, and he grew up with an interest in building things and a talent for math and science. When it came time to select his college, Baumann was won over by joint engineering’s evening classes, which allow students to work during the day.
Baumann has been impressed by his instructors, many of whom work in the field and teach on the side. One, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of CBB Transportation Engineers and Planners Shawn Leight, initially helped interest Baumann in transportation engineering.
“I thoroughly enjoyed having Kyle Baumann in my transportation engineering class as a part of the joint engineering program,” Leight said. “He is currently taking a leadership role on the executive committee that is planning for an Institute of Transportation Engineers Student Leadership Summit that will be held on the Washington University campus this summer. I look forward to seeing great things from Kyle in the years to come.”
Though Baumann enjoys the planning side, his primary interest is in design.
“We create the geometry, the construction documents, that we hand over to the contractor,” Baumann explained. “You get to see what you design and what’s built eventually, which is nice. I worked on this small project – it was a bike path on the Route 370 Discovery Bridge – that’s actually now getting built. It’s exciting to see stuff that you worked on actually get built.”
Aside from seeing his designs enacted, Baumann has some long-term engineering aspirations. One is to pass the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam, which he can take after four years of work and will license him as an engineer.
“That’s when you can actually stamp documents and say this is right, this is correct and this can be built now,” he said. “I’d like to be a roadway lead in a project. I think that would be the first long-term goal. That might be 10, 15 years from now.”
Working in project management is another goal of Baumann’s, though he wouldn’t have thought he’d be saying that even a year ago. It all changed when a classmate invited him to help plan the ITE student summit. Unexpectedly, Baumann found himself enjoying the planning process and hopes to stay involved after graduation.
“Unexpected” could be another entry in a compendium about Baumann.
Aside from his aforementioned woodworking and transportation design, Baumann is a voracious reader who splits his time between classics and contemporary fiction and nonfiction. Then there’s umpiring, which has its own unforeseen engineering tie-in.
“You have to be stoic, which is somewhat of an engineer’s personality anyway, so that certainly helped,” Baumann said. “I think that’s helped me be a better professional all around and not get frustrated and be able to take criticism.”