Jason Burns, PE, is excited to grow his talents in a leadership role and mentor graduate engineers in ISG’s Minneapolis locations. Read on to learn about Structural Group Leader, baseball and softball infielder, and rock music fan, Jason Burns.

What prior industry experience do you have?

Out of high school, I earned my associates and got a drafting job in Rochester, MN at a retaining wall company at the age of 19. Early on I was trained to not only provide drafting, but to do engineering and specification writing as well. After a few years, my boss and mentor encouraged me to go back to school to earn my bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. Once I earned my degree, I was hired into a Structural Engineering position where I stayed for approximately 8 years before joining ISG.

Why and how did you choose your career path?

Starting my professional career at a retaining wall company provided me an insight into the civil engineering world. Retaining wall design is primarily geotechnical engineering and so that’s where my background in engineering began. After going back to school, I began to enjoy my structural engineering classes more and more, and eventually started focusing on structural opposed to geotechnical. Even though my focus switched to structural, having a background in the geotechnical side is advantageous since the two disciplines work closely together when designing foundations for structures.

What brought you to ISG?

I was looking to grow my career in a leadership role. While I was entertaining an offer from another firm, I went to visit my friend Kris Roppe. During the visit, I discussed with him the career opportunity I was considering at this national firm and what my thoughts were. A couple days after my visit, Kris called me to say that my name had come up in conversations at ISG, as they were looking for someone to lead the structural engineering group for the Minneapolis offices and would like me to consider the position. After conversations with Sam Brockshus, Brad Penar, and Sam Boeck, I made my decision. What made me choose ISG over the other firm was the people and culture. I have several friends and college classmates that work here and have been here since we graduated. That tells me they enjoy working here and there is a reason they have stuck around. I had some exposure to ISG previous to working here, so I had a feel for the culture and knew it was the type of atmosphere I would enjoy.

What does your day-to-day look like?

Primarily, I work on designing building structures and make them…well…stand-up. Administratively, I am trying to grow the Minneapolis office structural team and I mentor graduate engineers—helping them grow their strengths. It’s a blend of technical and management.

What’s your favorite part of your job so far?

Definitely the people, getting to know everyone here has been awesome! Everyone is super friendly and enthusiastic. All of the people are great to work with and I enjoy building relationships with them.

What are some of your favorite projects you've worked on?

Honestly, I like all of them so far! I enjoy the smaller projects because they keep me busy and moving. But I also like watching how larger teams operate, like on the Active Generations or Mayo Clinic Health project. It gives me insight on how other departments interact here at ISG.

What changes do you see in structural engineering trends?

Most notably has to be the price of steel and lumber these days. Not only that, but the lead times on everything is ridiculous right now. That being said, it does leave opportunity for some creative design solutions.

Where would you like to see the structural engineering team and ISG go in the future?

For ISG, I would say continue our current trend toward sustainable and strategic growth. For the structural team, I would like to grow ISG’s Twin Cities offices, which entails keeping a good balance of seasoned engineers and graduate engineers. Long-term, I think this balance is extremely possible as we standardize and align processes in on-boarding and job function.

What is your leadership style?

I like to be realistic and lead by example. I will never ask someone I’m mentoring to do something I wouldn’t do. I also like to think I have a dynamic approach to leadership by finding what works best for the individual.

What do you like to do outside of work?

Anything outdoors! I love hunting, fishing, even ice fishing. I’m also in a “28 and over” baseball league and a coed softball league. I typically play 2nd base in baseball, but in softball it doesn’t matter, as long as I’m on the field.

What’s one thing you think people would be surprised to learn about you?

If it’s not that I can still play baseball at 35, it might be that I go to Rock Fest in Cadott, WI every year.

What’s your favorite band and song?

That’s a tough one…Breaking Benjamin and anything off their Saturate album is good.

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