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Michael Clapman '09, '11

Michael Clapman
Michael Clapman '09, '11. Photo courtesy of R. Bruce Simms.

Michael Clapman

Virginia Tech Class of ‘09, '11
Fall Protection Engineer at Industrial TurnAround Corporation

After graduating from Virginia Tech in 2011 with my master's degree in structural engineering, I began working at Industrial TurnAround Corporation (ITAC). I worked in the civil/structural group for five years before shifting to my current position as a fall protection engineer. In this role, I manage projects to engineer and design safety systems for industrial workers when working from heights. It is really rewarding to see my design ideas come to fruition knowing that workers are now safely protected when exposed to potentially dangerous situations.

I currently live in Richmond with my wife, and we are getting used to life with our newborn daughter. In my now-limited free time, I enjoy family walks with our dog and also playing a round of disc golf when I can.

How did the college equip you for the "real world"?
While fall protection wasn't necessarily covered in my classes, the Virginia Tech Engineering program taught me the skills needed for this niche field. Fall protection engineering leans heavily on structural building analysis and steel design. I also learned how to navigate in-depth code books, which is a big part of this industry.

What is a guiding principle for your work?
They say "safety first," and that is absolutely the case in our field. Proper engineering of our fall protection systems could save a life!

What was a project that you worked on while at Virginia Tech that set you up for this career?
I worked on quite a few projects that helped prepare me for the real world and cooperate with a team of others to achieve our goal. In school, it may have been designing a pumpkin-chucking trebuchet, and now it may involve installing a rooftop horizontal lifeline system. In both cases, thorough design is required, as well as keeping focused on the end objective!


B.S., Civil Engineering, Virginia Tech, 2009
M.S., Civil Engineering, Structures Concentration, Virginia Tech, 2011