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July 16, 2020

OHM Advisors: Meet our Experts Series

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Eric Dryer, Senior Planner

Quick Facts about Eric

  • Title: Senior Planner
  • Office Digs: Detroit, MI
  • Years in the Industry: 7
  • Fun Fact: Trained at USRowing National Training Center
  • Undergrad Degree: Biology

We checked in with Eric in the Detroit office where he works as a Senior Planner in the Transportation Planning group about multimodal transportation networks, competitive rowing and weird pop music.

Why planning?

After I graduated from the University of Michigan in biology, I worked in a lab and realized that it wasn’t for me. I discovered urban planning while researching grad school programs and was intrigued by environmental planning. I’d been a rower in college, so I decided to move to Oklahoma City to train at the USRowing National Training Center while attending grad school at the University of Oklahoma. As soon as I started the program, it was the first time I felt really engaged in my classes, and it all clicked.

Tell us about the “click” part.

As a kid, I was always riding my bike—my siblings and I were spoiled with nice bikes and we used them to get around our neighborhood. It was a habit that stuck with me. In school I rode my bike to class and rowing practice, and now I ride my bike to work most of the year. So, I guess you could say I’ve been studying multimodal transportation systems my whole life!

What’s a typical day for you at OHM Advisors?

Staying current with planning and development news and trends. Working on deliverables and visiting clients. Collaborating with the multidisciplinary team in our office, which is a great learning environment. It’s never the same day twice, but every day I try to live the work and practice what I preach. It’s easy to throw lines on a map as a planner but if you don’t know what it’s like to use what you recommend, then I feel like it doesn’t have a lot of meaning.

Tell us about the coolest project you’ve been involved with in your career.

It was a feasibility study exploring potential rapid transit from downtown Detroit to downtown Ann Arbor and connecting to the DTW airport. I’d just come from working for a public agency and it was the first project I worked on as a consultant. Aside from the interesting planning issues, I learned a lot about the process and impact of consulting.

List a few adjectives that describe you.

I’m observant, a detail-oriented thinker, productive. And tall. I’m 6’6”, so I get that one a lot!

If you could grant a universal wish to help your clients, what would it be?

For them to not have to worry about politics. Clients want to do the things that benefit the community as a whole, but often times they have to pull back because of a vocal minority or some other political issue or combination of issues. Sometimes the solution that’s going to be the most beneficial for everyone doesn’t get implemented because of it.

What professional skill will you always be honing?

I’m a quiet person. I usually approach projects by listening and then jumping right into analysis, so I’m working on being a more conversational communicator. And I’ll always be working to stay current creatively. As tastes and trends change, I want my branding and design skills to reflect those changes.

What are you most looking forward to in the future for your industry?

Being able to travel through any region in the country using an efficient, multimodal and sustainable transportation network. It’s good that cities have started on this path, but it’s going to take a massive change in the way we think about how we design cities, how we live, and how we get around to achieve a more sustainable transportation system. Adoption of autonomous vehicles will be part of this strategy, but I am trying to work with cities to identify a balanced approach to our future transportation network.

Do you have a secret (but still socially and legally acceptable) guilty indulgence?

Weird pop music! My brother and I share a lot of music with each other and we’re always looking for new and interesting stuff. It usually trends toward eclectic pop music.

Read more about Eric and the work he does for OHM Advisors and the transportation planning team.

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