Raymond (Ray) C. White, PE
Director, Structural Engineering
Being able to come in every day and know I’ve got a problem to solve, that’s fun.
Bachelor of Science, Civil Engineering
University of South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina
American Society of Civil Engineers
Structural Engineers Association of South Carolina
At every stop along the way, I’ve done something different – from day one unloading steel to tying rebar to strapping on a safety harness to a headache ball to inspect 2,000-foot towers to being lowered into a drill shaft to check a caisson. I like challenges.
Ray White calls himself the luckiest man on the face of the earth, for a lot of reasons. While serendipity has certainly played its role, it’s Ray’s hands-on, top-to-bottom work experience that puts him in that unusual category. As he explains it, “There are few who do what I do who’ve done what I’ve done.”
Or who appear to enjoy it nearly as much.
Ray fell into engineering almost by accident, when a seventh-grade scheduling snafu assigned him to mechanical drawing instead of the usual semester in shop class. He quickly realized he was good at understanding how things worked, visualizing how things should go together, and creating working drawings, so he jumped at the opportunity to take more, signing up for all the mechanical drawing classes that were offered at his high school. His advisor suggested civil engineering might be a good career fit, and the University of South Carolina College of Engineering agreed.
While studying at USC, Ray worked with the South Carolina Department of Transportation, where he learned to calculate and prepare construction plans for the state’s secondary, primary and interstate highway systems. In classes, though, he began to feel an instinctive pull toward structural engineering, with its practical problem solving rendered in design form. As luck would have it, his daily path from campus to work and back again walked him past the offices of what at the time was the nation’s largest structural steel fabricator, Owen Steel Co., Inc., and he was hired upon graduation. From a start of unloading rail cars, he learned the structural steel industry from the ground up, working on job sites, becoming a certified welder and crane operator, and following a successful career path into positions in sales and project management. But the itch to practice engineering remained.
By chance, he noticed a help-wanted ad from Kline Iron & Steel Co., to fill an engineering position in Kline’s tower department. Although he knew virtually nothing about towers, he was hired and discovered the adventure of a lifetime: designing, fabricating and erecting guyed and self-supporting steel broadcasting towers all over the US, working with job-site labor and soaring to the top of 2,000-foot-tall towers strapped in a safety harness. Even now, Rays says there’s nothing more exciting. By 1991, he was Kline Towers’ vice president and general manager.
Even Ray’s one reversal – the sale and eventual dismantling of Kline Towers – opened new doors. In 2004, he joined Carlisle Associates, Inc. and is now a principal of the firm, vice president of structural engineering, and treasurer. Our clients particularly value Ray’s ability to evaluate existing structural systems and design modifications that bring them into compliance with building codes, extending the useful life of the building.
Ray is married to his high school sweetheart, a relationship that began coincidentally when he was assigned to the wrong homeroom and she was assigned the locker next to his. They’ve been side by side ever since.
Ray knows how to make things work.