All I Needed was an Opportunity – From Guest Blogger Daniel Biru

All I needed was opportunity. Opportunity to overcome a challenging road as an Ethiopian refugee, planted in Columbus, Ohio in 1986 at the age of 9, to start a life in a foreign yet dreamy land. It wouldn’t have happened without the hard work, perseverance, generosity, and vision of others around me, such as my parents, Aklog and Genet Biru, family friends, Herb and Helen Williams, and countless others, too many to name.  It was on me to capitalize on the opportunity, make the best of my tenure at Columbus City Schools (Broadleigh, Maize, Eastmoor Middle), win a scholarship to a top Prep High School (The Wellington School), and attend The Ohio State University for Civil Engineering. Upon graduation, I would join Korda/Nemeth Engineering, which coincidentally was started by Peter Korda in 1964, a Hungarian emigrant who was a philanthropic man of great integrity. Fast forward to 2022, and I am still at Korda, now a Partner and head of the civil engineering department. Not a day passes without me being grateful to all of the people along the way that extended a helping hand to make sure I kept going, never complacent, always motivated. Now, I stay busy professionally running a department full of talented professionals at Korda, collaborating with architects, developers, and civil servants/government professionals, in a growing Central Ohio Market. Away from the office, I stay busy raising three kids with my beautiful wife Aden and taking the time to volunteer or directly helping those that could use the type of assistance I benefitted from.

Outskirt of Gondar, Ethiopia, with grandpa on the coffee farm, Dan on the left with brothers.

Dan (2nd from left) outskirts of Gondar Ethiopia.

I became a civil engineer because I wanted to design projects that made positive impacts on our communities; projects that create lasting impressions, real structures one can visit, see, and touch for generations. Be it a large elementary school in a suburb, a small charter school, a regional hospital, a public library in an economically distressed community, or a regional stormwater wetland facility, these are the projects that drew me to the profession and fuel me forward; projects that shape communities and change lives, hopefully offering someone that needs it an opportunity to overcome challenging odds.

The stress on community architecture is one of the many reasons I enjoy working on Triad projects. Brent and his team live and breathe social responsibility through their projects, with the understanding that disadvantaged and underserved communities also deserve functional and high end designed spaces. I also see this exemplified through Triad’s very inclusive co-op/internship program where young professionals from all walks of life are provided an opportunity to explore careers in architecture and figure out their right career path. Triad does this not to necessarily fulfill diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility goals, but because it is the right thing to do; create an opportunity for someone that needs it to improve their career and life prospects. Paying it forward, finding ways to support people in my community just like others supported and created opportunities for me, is a life motto I have accepted in both my professional and personal life. Collaborating with like-minded architects like Triad ensures that our profession is pleasant, impactful, and enjoyable.