Articles | Lucas Beattie
It was late 2021, and I was still used to being cooped up at home all the time from Covid. I was mid-stride in my kick with personal finance and financial independence, and at my job, work was steady, but feeling routine. I decided I wanted to try starting a side hustle.
I wrote this article a few months ago, while I was still working as a bridge engineer consultant. It still applies well in my current role developing engineering software, as hand-calculations, sanity checks, and engineering judgment are critical before shipping a product that several engineers will use.
Additionally, while this article was written in the context of structural engineering, the same approach could likely be employed regardless of discipline, anywhere where there’s an increasing reliance on software to perform engineering calculations.
In the last real estate article, I discussed why I decided I wanted to buy a rental house. In this article, I’ll talk about my experience finding, buying, renovating, and renting my first investment property.
After a bit of a hiatus, I’m back with another article! I had set a goal to publish an article every week for a half a year before slowing down, and only ended up making it to 18 out of 26. After this article, hopefully you’ll agree that I had a good excuse for the pause. Now I’m hoping to get back to a semi-regular schedule, maybe shooting for an article every two weeks.
I thought I’d take this one to give a little life update, as I’ve had a lot of hectic and exciting things going on. I’ll resume business as usual with the next article (the promised follow-up article for my first rental house). In the last couple of months, we did a kitchen remodel, I ran a half marathon and got sick afterwards, we had our second baby, and I accepted a new job!
Near the end of 2021, my interest in lifestyle design and personal finance was at an all-time high, and I decided I wanted to invest in a rental house. I ended up buying and renting my first investment property in 2022, and in this article, I will discuss why I decided to pursue it. In the follow-up article, I will discuss the ups and downs of the experience of buying and renting it.
So far on my website, I’ve gone over ways I’ve been able to use Excel VBA to approach a few structural engineering projects, as well as using it to automate tedious tasks. In this article, I would like to go over a few of the random and fun projects I have completed in VBA. I’ll make two of them available to download!
In this article I wanted to provide a quick summary or guide on how I created this website. It can be done quite easily and for free! First we’ll quickly go over how the setup works, and if that’s too technical or uninteresting, don’t worry. Right after that, we’ll go through the easy steps to create your own website in a similar way.
I have been able to use Excel VBA as a major part of some of the projects I’ve worked on in my career, and have covered a few in past articles. Sometimes, though, VBA can prove most useful when automating small tasks that are otherwise tedious. A little bit of knowledge and a willingness to tinker can give some big results.
I started putting this website together in December of last year, and published the first article on January 4th. I quickly decided I wanted to put out an article each week for a while (at least for the first half of this year), and it’s already led to some fun results. In this article, I’m going to talk about why I did it.
In this third and final article of the first engineering deep dive, we’re going to wrap up calculating PM capacities for columns and drilled shafts. We will discuss and demonstrate how to apply phi factors to change our capacity curve from a nominal one to a factored one we can use. We will compare the final results to those from an established piece of existing software (SpColumn). Finally, an Excel sheet is available for download that uses the information we developed in these articles to generate capacity curves.
We all want to live the best life we can achieve. What is the purpose of money other than to move us closer to that goal? Bill Perkins has some interesting thoughts and advice on how we can use our money to pursue an unforgettable life, and Die With Zero is one of my favorite nonfiction books of all time.
Pretty fitting that we have our article on circular column capacity on pi day (March 14th) :P. We’re picking back up right where we left off from Part 1 (rectangular column/drilled shaft capacity), and are ready to approach calculating PM capacities for a circular cross-section. The big (and fun) issue here is: how are we going to find the area and the centroid of the compression block?
In the previous Spanish learning article, I talked about some of the strategies I’m using this year to improve my Spanish skills. I mentioned a vocabulary list I’m practicing in Anki, as well as a verb conjugation practice tool I made in Excel. Let’s talk a little more about both of those, and right off the bat, here are links to download them:
This is the first of a type of article I’m calling “Engineering Deep Dive.” In an engineering deep dive, I’m going to take a structural engineering problem which I found interesting to solve, and walk through it step-by-step, showing as much math as I can manage.
I expect this first deep dive topic to take about three articles, and it will cover the math behind creating a strength capacity calculator for rectangular and circular columns or drilled shafts, which are subjected to both axial load and bending moments. This type of member is called a beam-column. At the end of the series, an excel file that performs these calculations will be available for download.
In December of last year (2022), my wife and I took a vacation to Southern Spain. In preparation, I had been practicing my rusty Spanish skills for a couple of months on Duolingo. While on the trip, I had a great time trying to talk with the people we met there, and it inspired me to want to improve.
So far we’ve talked about why civil engineers should use VBA, how to get started in VBA, and my first time using VBA in my career. Now let’s go over the most recent job I’ve done for work using VBA and see how far it’s come! This article is about designing the structures that hold up the signs you see when driving on the interstate.
My previous article on financial independence discussed a broad overview of the primary concepts behind financial independence (FI) and what I’ve taken away from them. In general, FI is having enough money invested that the returns can pay for your lifestyle indefinitely, so you never need to work for money again.
I will call the strategy where you work to earn full financial independence as quickly as possible, “traditional FI.” Now let’s build off of that foundation and discuss its potential downsides, as well as a few more frameworks and how they’ve affected my current personal finance mindset.
The year was 2014. I was working on my Master’s degree and working at Palmer Engineering part-time. I had just taught myself the basics of Excel VBA, and it was about to pay off…
One of my biggest focuses over the past year or two has been on personal finance. It’s pretty much a staple subject of any self-improvement effort, and, as someone perhaps a bit too into spreadsheets, I’ve always been interested in my and my family’s finances.
I was beginning to dig deeper into the subject and took a lot of inspiration from the FIRE community, which stands for “Financial Independence Retire Early”. Although I have no interest in retiring in the foreseeable future, the idea of having control over both your time and your finances (i.e., the “FI” side of that) has always held an appeal.
I hope my last VBA post left you champing at the bit to learn VBA and level up to a full Excel wizard. But maybe you aren’t sure where to start. Well don’t worry, this post is for you. Not only will I discuss general tips and resources for learning, but we’re also going to make your first macro! Let’s get straight to the good stuff first, and we’ll discuss continued learning at the end.
Scroll down to the end of the post for a list of the books that were read, including my rating from 1 to 5.
Near the end of 2020 I got on a big lifestyle design and self-improvement kick. Whether it was from stewing at home during the pandemic or knowing that my wife and I had our first kid on the way, I’m not sure. I’ve done or tried many things since then, one of which was to start reading nonfiction books. I’ve always been an avid reader, but was exclusively interested in fiction, usually either sci-fi/fantasy or classic novels. However with this newfound motivation, I took the plunge into reading about the real world.
I’ve been an Excel enthusiast since late high school and taught myself how to use VBA near the end of college. I found this to be quite fun and rewarding, and so have kept an eye out for use cases in my job as a structural bridge engineer. Time and time again this has proven useful and led to fast and powerful solutions to problems I was working on.
In my experience, few of my peers in structural or other civil engineering think of using coding/scripting software, even when the alternatives are time consuming or mundane. Let me tell you why I think civil engineers should learn how to use Excel VBA in their careers.