For Nikita "Nik" Tsikouris, professional development and career advancement are important aspects of employment with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
When District 1 — covering the northwestern part of the state — began talks about creating a Civil Engineer (CE) Council, he knew it was a good fit for him.
Tsikouris, who serves as the elected leader of the voluntary group, sees many advantages to the newly formed group.
District Executive Jim Foringer and Assistant District Executive - Design Brian McNulty had proposed the idea based on experiences in other regions of PennDOT.
"CE Councils have been proven to work well in other Districts," Tsikouris said. "We definitely felt there was a need for something like this in District 1."
The goal of the group, which includes members from the construction, design, and maintenance units, is to strengthen the department by helping to recruit new hires and provide them with opportunities to succeed through training and networking. In particular, the group looks to help members obtain their civil engineering degree and fundamentals of engineering and professional engineer licenses.
The target audience is Civil Engineer Trainees, Engineer Trainees, and engineering summer interns.
"The majority of the group is made up of engineers with less than seven years of experience. However, anyone who works for PennDOT District 1 can join," Tsikouris said.
The CE Council philosophy matches directly with all the employment attributes that brought the Ohio resident to PennDOT about seven years ago.
"I worked for the Ohio Department of Transportation while I was a student at Youngstown State University," he said. "I enjoyed the work and recognized the benefits of working for a state department of transportation very early on in my experience."
Tsikouris was drawn to PennDOT because of the larger size of the organization and the greater opportunities to learn and advance.
"I appreciate the wide range of opportunities to do other job assignments, such as cross training and acting positions," he said.
Tsikouris, who is raising two young children, Sophia and Michael, with his wife Bridget, doesn't shy away from taking on a new challenge.
Over the years, he has served as the acting ADA Coordinator, completed cross training in the Bridge Unit, and was named an Inspector-in-Charge for the Construction Unit. He is currently acting as the structure control engineer.
"Working with other units and in other positions gives you a chance to see things from a different perspective, and can benefit you in your day-to-day position," Tsikouris said. "Also, being challenged with a new or different job assignment keeps things interesting and helps you grow professionally."