The Stuart BunchThe Family that Engineers Together Stays Together!
Think the Brady Bunch, Cheaper by the Dozen and 19 Kids and Counting are just out-of-the ordinary stories? Think again! Todd Stuart, one of NCI’s road engineers, comes from a household of 9 children – almost all of which went into the engineering field. Read on to find out more about his family and their amazing life together.
The History of America’s Families
Cheaper by the Dozen (and its multiple iterations), Yours, Mine & Ours, The Brady Bunch and other TV shows and movies about large families never fail to spark the public interest. However, while reality shows such as Jon and Kate Plus 8 and TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting about the Dugger family offer some insight into what it is really like to grow up with a large clan, they often don’t paint the full picture.
Perhaps the reason America finds these shows so intriguing, though, is because very few families in the US reach a large size anymore. US Census records show that the average family size in the US peaked between the 1850’s and 1920’s (as infant mortality rates plummeted due to advances in modern medicine and hygiene practices) and has continued a steady decline ever since.
What was the cause for decline? No one event is to blame, rather, number of factors were involved, including (but not limited to) the continuation of the industrialization movement, World War I, women becoming more educated, and social change movements, all of which led to changes in the workforce (Ferrante, 1992). Large families began to dwindle as more opportunities materialized for women to work outside the home, coinciding with rising costs to care for and raise children.
While jobs for women meant the possibility of a boost to the family’s overall income, working outside the home often meant paying for childcare. In response to this, women began having fewer children so they could return to the workforce more quickly, and lower cost of care (Livni & Kopf, 2017).
Whereas back in the 1850’s families of six to nine kids were almost as likely as those of one to five, the 20th century ushered in the era of the two-child household. In 1980 less than 0.5% of all households in the US had eight or more children, and by the mid-20th century, the majority of US households contained two children or less (Livni & Kopf, 2017).
According to the US Census bureau, the average family size is now 2.53, down from 3.3 in the 1960’s and continuing a sinking trend that shows no sign of stopping (US Census Bureau, 2018). An article published by Market Watch in July of 2018 reported the fifth consecutive year of rising child care costs; today, approximately one in every five families spends at least 25% or more of their income on child care (Wolfson, 2018).
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the cost of raising a child in a middle-income family is now more than $233, 610, not including the cost of college (Lino, 2017). This may be a significant contributing factor to the reason why US fertility rates hit an all-time low in 2017, with only 60.2 births per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44 (Chappell, 2018).
To meet the rising costs, both parents are increasingly working, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics now reports that a full 61.9% of all married couples with children have both parents employed (BLS, 2018). This is almost double what the rate was in the 1970’s when only 31% of households had both parents working (Campbell, 2015).
While the cost to raise a one child may have skyrocketed, let alone six or more, there are still some families that find a way to make it work. Those raised in large families often have endless stories to tell of their adventures, and feel blessed to have the love and support of such a capacious family network.
Todd Stuart, one of NCI’s roadway engineers in Dayton, Ohio, is one such individual. Raised in a household of nine children, six of which have followed in their father’s footsteps – choosing a career in an engineering related field – he experienced a childhood very unique in today’s world of the two and one-child family.
Why do they all seem to gravitate toward engineering? “There must be something in our blood [to become an engineer],” Todd claims, and the extensive network of engineers in his family supports that notion. The trend has even continued into the next generation – his niece Megan is now working as an Architect at TRIAD.
Intrigued to learn more about what drives this clan of engineers? Read on below to find out more about Todd, his family and what inspired him to become an engineer.
Northwest Consultants, Inc.
Todd is part of a team of outstanding engineers at NCI’s branch office in Dayton, Ohio. Click the link to learn more about the work they do!
Location: 1167 Lyons Road, Building E, Centerville, OH 45458
Telephone: (937) 291-9092
Office Hours: M-F: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Todd E. Stuart, EI
As a design engineer, Mr. Stuart has primarily been responsible for designing, detailing, and preparing plans for roadway and utility improvement projects. His experience includes roadway design, computer-aided design, agency coordination and development of right-of-way plans, pavement marking and signing plans, maintenance of traffic plans and utility improvement plans. His design experience includes roads, streets, waterline, sanitary and storm water management systems. He is practiced in preparing project quantity and cost estimates. Additionally, Mr. Stuart has completed assorted topographical surveys including urban roads, rural highways, interstates, and airports.
BS, Civil Engineering, University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio, 2010
Roadway Design Engineer
When he is not working, Mr. Stuart enjoys spending time with his family (wife, 2 kids and a dog). Balancing the parenting life with the engineer life is difficult but not impossible, he claims. He teaches his daughter and son some of the engineer practices he has learned by applying them to real-world examples, such as building a tower of legos or blocks, showing the principles of water and how it works when you spill your milk cup, and how to apply physics when trying to aim a nerf gun to hit a target.
From the Engineer
” Growing up in a big family was crazy, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I feel that if I needed anything any one of them would drop everything to help me. All my siblings have been there for me and at some point in my life have aided me in my journey to where I am now. “
– Todd E. Stuart
Building an Engineer
Life as a Stuart
When did you first want to become an engineer? Who/what inspired you?
My brothers Steven and Mark were the main mentors that helped me decide on this path.
I have always loved to build things and being in a family of engineers, legos were always around the house. My brothers and sisters and I would always vie for who could built the biggest and most elaborate structures out of legos, but being the youngest my always got destroyed so the brothers could make theirs bigger. That’s part of what I assume drew me towards Civil Engineering…You can build something great by yourself, but if you combine your resources and ingenuity with others, it could be even better (even if it is by force).
In grade school and high school, like a typical engineer, I excelled in math and science. At some points, I didn’t feel challenged enough. There were days with Steve and Mark where they would be working on their homework and like the nosey little brother I wanted to see what they were working on. The material they were working on fascinated me and it drew me into Civil Engineering further from there. Not to mention their stories of while at UD, building concrete canoes and steel bridges for ASCE competitions. That hands-on problem solving sounded right up my alley.
Living Under one Roof
What is something people might not know about being in a big family?
Being in a big family, we have all different personalities. Some of us are quiet and reserved and the others are loud and outgoing. Having the large age gap between oldest and youngest can lead to some interesting conversation topics…My oldest niece is 2 months younger than me…and no she does not call me uncle.
Feeding an Army
How did meals work? Could you all sit at one table?
Mom always cooked, but with the age gap and the each kid having their own thing going on (college/sports), it was rare for us all to be around the same table. Typical nights there would be 6 at the table, but at most 8. The most common meals were meatloaf, chili and lasagna. My favorite was mom’s meatloaf. Now a days at Thanksgiving and Christmas, mom still cooks and typically serves an army. Not just serving the her children, but all our significant others and our children. Mom had 9 children, but she also has 12 grandchildren.
The Ram Van
How did you all travel? Any fun vacations?
Every year there was at least a few big vacations we would take. We would all pack into the Ram Van, with an extra seat installed in the back. Including the driver it sat 9 people. For one of our yearly excursions, we would go to Cumberland Falls State Park in Kentucky. We would rent out a house and stay there for a week. They had a lot of fun hikes and crafts, but the main event would always be the square dance that was done on Saturday nights. My whole family would be out there dancing away the night.
Any funny “Cheaper by the Dozen” stories to share?
Being the youngest of the children I was able to get away with a lot more and when I was growing up, “Dinosaurs” the TV show was on, and I loved watching the show. Mom could not resist laughing when I did something wrong and then said “I’m the baby, gotta love me”, a catch phrase from the show.
My brother is red-green color blind, and mom didn’t realize until on St. Patrick’s day he went to class with a red shirt and got sent home with a demerit.
We were a big sports family, mostly basketball, but there were multiple occasions where in a rush to get inside for dinner someone would launch the basketball over the roof for it to hit a tree and bounce back at the house and through a window.
Band of Brothers (and Sisters)
What is the best and worst part of being in a big family?
The best part of being in a big family is there is always someone to be with, talk to or play with. The Worst part of a big family is having to use hand-me-downs and not always having your opinion heard. Growing up in a big family was crazy, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. At least in my family, there is a pretty big age gap from the oldest (56) to the youngest (32). Even though we were separated by so many years, I feel that if I needed anything any one of them would drop everything to help me. All my siblings have been there for me and at some point in my life have aided me in my journey to where I am now.
Life as an Engineer
Todd Stuart, EI
Think his family is neat? Todd’s life is even more interesting! Learn some more about his life both inside and outside the office.
Where are you originally from?
I am originally from around here [Dayton, Ohio]. Miami Township to be precise. I when to school locally and haven’t moved far from home.
What do you do in your free time?
I spend my time fixing up the house (it is livable but needs updating), and doing wood working, electrical, and general home maintenance. I also enjoy playing sports with my high school friends (basketball, golf, football), as well as watching sports and movies. We have a dog named Vitani. She is a mutt with a lineage containing a mix of husky, greyhound and German shepherd.
Favorite engineering projects that you have worked on?
All the projects I have worked on have had aspects that I enjoy. It is very fulfilling to see a project through from the initial survey done in the field, through design, to seeing it as it is being built and its final stage.
Favorite thing about your job? Least favorite?
The thing I enjoy most about my current position is that I get to experience the whole process from survey to design. My least favorite aspect of the job is having to survey in negative temperatures, but that’s why hand heat packs were created!
Advice for students considering engineering as a career?
It can be a very fulfilling job, if you are willing to put in the time and sacrifice. But as I said above, there is something to be said about being able to see a design you have worked on be constructed.
Meet The Stuart Engineers
Check out the bios below to learn more about the engineering men in Todd’s family!
Anthony Stuart, PE (56)
Project Engineer, Franklin County Engineer
Anthony works closely with engineers at the Franklin County Recorder and teaches Surveying at a community college.
Shawn Stuart, MS (50)
Technical Consultant, Rockwell Automation
Shawn went to University of Dayton for Electrical Engineering. He is now a Technical Consultant for Rockwell Automation.
Joel Stuart, MA (44)
Systems Administrator (IT) for IMDS
Joel went to University of Dayton for Computer Engineering and is now working in Information Technology as a Systems Administrator for IMDS.
Steven Stuart, PE (41)
Traffic Engineer for Michael Baker International
Steven went to University of Dayton for Civil Engineering and is now a Professional Engineer. He works as a Traffic Engineer for Michael Baker International.
Mark Stuart, PE (37)
Project Engineer, Montgomery County Engineer
Mark went to University of Dayton for Civil Engineer and is now a Professional Engineer. He works as a Project Engineer for the Montgomery County Engineer.
Todd Stuart, EI (32)
Design Engineer, Northwest Consultants, Inc.
Todd went to the University of Dayton for Civil Engineering, and works as a Design Engineer at NCI.
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