Hi, I am

Jacob Bolda

Structural Engineer

Focusing on the intersection of tech and Structural Engineering. Masters degree in Structural Engineering from the Milwaukee School of Engineering, undergrad in Architectural Engineering with a minor in Management, and a deep understanding of software and programming. Marrying that experience with problem solving and systematizing is powerful.

This Is Me

I spent my early years in small town Minnesota before moving to small town Wisconsin. At Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), my alma mater, I earned my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. It was really much more than that though. Between my sophomore and junior year, I had the opportunity to do the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. This evolved my interest in BIM, 3D modeling and 3D printing. It was through the Rapid Prototyping Center (RPC) of which was behind the effort to run the first 3D print in space. But easily the best experience I had was with Engineers Without Borders (EWB). It is an amazing group. They create a much bigger impact in these places because it isn’t a problem that you can just throw money at. Many of the more rural areas don’t see any attention from even local engineers. We designed a bridge, and went down to Guatemala and built it. Not only do you see a project through from start to finish, but, most importantly, you see how much you can affect and improve someone’s life.

The first ~five years out of college, I worked with a company inspecting and preparing capital replacement plans for buildings. I was able to travel all throughout the US as well as internationally: Canada, France, Spain, and Italy. I had picked up the travel bug from EWB, and all this travel really scratched that itch. Between these travels, I met the love of my life, Amy. I pulled her along on some of the excursions, but more on that in a minute. In the remaining free time I had, I taught myself programming. I had experimented with this in the past, and touched on it while using Excel. Writing, solving problems and standing up a software setup shares many of the same neurons as structural engineering. I primarily worked with Python and have, more recently, moved into JavaScript. Nearing the end of those five years, greater and greater clarity emerged. As much as I enjoyed this, it was time for the next chapter in life. I wanted to get back into the more technical engineering. I still enjoy software and programming, and these two seemed a great fit together. I would miss the travel, but Amy and I had gotten married and it was time to settle down. We are still traveling, just more often together, and more so just for the pleasure.

In the current chapter of my life, I am working with CSD Structural Engineers. I primarily work in specialty engineering; generally using cold-rolled steel and aluminum, but also some hot-rolled steel and wood design. Most interestingly, I get to flex the programming muscles. I make good use of my CAD/BIM expertise, and help in marketing. As a company, we tend towards the industrial sector.

The Family

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my support structure. Amy and I dated for a few years, and proclaimed our vows soon before I began with my current employer. Life is certainly a whirlwind, and the most recent forecast is our beautiful baby girl, all full of smiles and giggles. The two loves of my life.

Professional Engagements

In View of the Public

STEM on Fire Guest

Guest Representing the AEC Industry

The podcast hosts practicing professionals, college professors and college students. The focus is providing insights into STEM professions, what is required to get through the curriculum and additional strategies to guide students towards a successful career.

I talk about how the AEC Industry is all connected. Architectural Engineering will cover all the pieces that go into actually building the building. Structural engineering, at it’s core, revolves around making sure the building and/or structure stays up.

To get through college, I express that you need to figure out during high school how you learn and also make sure to nurture your network and give value to those around you without expecting anything in return.

I recommended Asana for a to-do list and the book “Never Split the Difference” by Chris Voss.

Rapid Prototyping: A Sustainable Design Aid

3D Printing Research Back in 2009

Ecotect Daylighting Analysis

I researched the applicability of creating a Revit model, running daylighting analyses and exporting the colored model to be 3D printed in color.

The purpose of the research was to explore the feasibility of performing energy analyses early in the design stage of building. This has become much more commonplace since my research. Utilizing computer programs simplifies and expedites the energy modeling process. Energy modeling was examined to determine the ease of use and feasibility of using such a device to help designers understand the priorities behind passive design. A visual, as well as a textual, analysis can be performed and used to help educate not only designers but the client. Using rapid prototyping, a striking visual model can be created to help convey the energy efficiencies as well as the architectural highlights of the building.

AEC Collective

A Community Serving the Architectural, Engineering and Construction Industry

I run a community called the AEC Collective. The AEC Collective is a community for the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction. It uses the Discord program which is a free voice, video and text chat app that you can access via PC, browser, or mobile phone. We look to help mentor those just starting in the industry, and provide a great place for networking with your peers around the world. We can all benefit from understanding each related niche better, but also understanding our own niche outside of our geographic region.

Programming, Code and Excel

Since the '90s

My experience crosses a unique set of languages, but all with the common goal of solving a specific problem. Programming and code are tools that have great power when wielded effectively. I consider my primary languages JavaScript, Python and VBA (see Excel), but I have additionally worked with Go, QBASIC, Fortran, LISP, SQL, Bash/Shell/Powershell, PHP, HTML, CSS, and more. More recently my interest has been in JavaScript, and I have been working on open source code as expounded upon in the linked article. My overall focus has been in data, manipulating it, and then visualizing it (see the love for JavaScript and Python). I am also an expert in Excel and have crafted some involved formulas and code under unique constraints as well as many template spreadsheets still in use at past and present professional engagements.

Mitchell Street Market Lofts Preliminary Design

New Construction Affordable Housing Development

Mitchell Market Lofts Elevation

Located in the Muskego Way neighborhood in Milwaukee, WI and built on what was once a city-owned vacant brownfield lot, Mitchell Street Market Lofts is a new construction affordable housing development. I created the original design of these lofts during Senior Design. We pitched the design to the eventual developers. After a few small tweaks, we passed off the preliminary design to the Architects and it lead to what you can see now.

Masters in Structural Engineering

Thesis Circa 2011

The purpose of my capstone design project report was to discuss the behavior of a hooked bar in concrete carrying a tension force. The cover and bonded length were varied to observe the effect on the load distribution between the hook portion and the bonded length portion of a hooked bar. Each specimen had 1 or 2 inches of cover. Each specimen had a bonded length of 8, 12, or 16 inches. Straight rebar was also tested to provide a control and comparison to the hooked bars with similar cover and bond length variables. The abstract and full text can be accessed by clicking the header.

Engineers Without Borders

MSOE Student Chapter

In March 2010, our team of EWB-MSOE students and professionals completed a vehicular bridge in the rural village of Tres Cruces, Guatemala. Similar to our other bridges in Joyabaj, this one provides reliable year-round access for about 4,000 people in Tres Cruces and the surrounding countryside to reach the central town of Joyabaj for education, commerce, and healthcare. It should also open the doorway to further development of Tres Cruces and the surrounding region.

This project required two implementation trips. The professional partners on the first trip, conducted in January 2010, excavated and poured the bridge foundations and abutments. The second trip, composed of students and professional/faculty mentors, then completed the superstructure and retaining walls on the sides of the bridge. In preparation for these implementation trips, the professionals and students worked over the summer and fall of 2009 to produce a technical design for the bridge and a plan for constructing it with the close help of the municipal government of Joyabaj and the community leadership of Tres Cruces. The members of the local community, having an eagerness to invest in this improvement to their lives, willingly provided much of the labor for both implementation trips, along with on-site housing for EWB personnell.

I was able to travel on the second implementation trip to construct the superstructure and wing walls as seen in the embeded video that I created.


The Most Recent


Batch Rename Pictures

I wrote a Python 3 script to rename photo files with the timestamp that they were taken.

I recently converted out of Evernote and in that conversion process I ended up with a handful of PDFs that I would like to run optical character recognition (OCR) on. This function makes the PDF searchable. I had something like 250 PDFs at this point in which I needed to apply OCR. That is not an insignificant task and it definitely was worth the effort to figure out a way to do this in a batch process.


Converting Out of Evernote

I have been using Evernote for some time and when I first started using it it seemed to be the easiest way to scan documents and have them searchable. It runs a process called OCR or optical character recognition on the images that it stores with the note. With changes at Evernote, it seemed like it might be worth entertaining the idea of finding a different platform to store my documents.

I have been using Gatsby since July of 2016. After seeing a presentation on isomorphic/universal reactjs, the bug had finally bit me hard enough. I had to get into Reactjs, and then eventually lead to Gatsbyjs. This is the story.

My Masters Thesis, circa 2011, was titled Load Distribution and Load-Deflection Behavior of Hooked Reinforcing Bars Loaded in Tension. Included is the abstract and link to the full document.


Our Firstborn

We had a beautiful baby girl! It gives you some perspective on life.

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We enjoy cooking. These are a few of our favorites eaten recently.

Potato Soup



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Garlic Butter Steak and Potatoes Skillet



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Cooking: 15m

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Total: 25m

Sausage, Pepper, Onion and Potato Hash



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