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How do you explain the concept of pipe installation or excavating or milling and filling potholes to a child? An industry veteran from Hawaii has found a way to do soand to make it fun.

Scott Jennings, founder and chief executive at SJ Construction Consulting LLC in Honolulu, has been in the industry his whole life, so he knows a way or two to explain complex construction concepts. Growing up in Columbia, Maryland, with two parents who owned a construction business, it was no surprise when Jennings began his career with a large contractor in Philadelphia. 

Following a transfer to Texas, a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, another transfer to Seattle and a final transfer to Honolulu in 2001, Jennings finds himself loving the industry more and more every day. He's determined to find new ways to make it interesting, not just for himself, but for those around him and those who might follow him in the future. 

Engineers Are Writers, Too

In 2016, Jennings began his own heavy civil construction consulting business providing litigation support, management training, industry training and more. “I really enjoy teaching, which is part of the reason why I wrote the book,” he says. 

Jennings claims he was “never a great writer” and as a student “scored much higher in math.” But he began to discover that “here in the engineering and construction world, I am a strong writer. I found myself enjoying writing, and now I just like writing all these blogs and articlesthe calmness of it, being by yourself with your thoughts. I just like kids, too, and thought I could contribute to the industry by writing these books and teaching in this way. My goal for retirement is teaching, and I thought this was a good way to teach about construction.” 

His first children’s book on complex construction concepts, “No More Potholes, Let’s Mill and Fill,” was released in March 2022. Two more have followed: “Beams Over Streams, Let’s Build a Bridge,” and Jennings newest release, “The Rain Won’t Drain, Let’s Lay a Pipe.” 

Ted The Termite

The books all follow Ted the Termite on his daily adventures in construction. As builder bugs, cathedral termites spend their days building grand structures in which they live and operate as a society. Why focus on termites? "Everyone knows beavers building dams is overused,” Jennings says. 

Along with his friends and family, Ted teaches children how to mill and fill potholes, build bridges and install water drainage underground. These topics might seem too complicated for a child to follow, but Jennings lays them out in short, four-verse-per-page rhymes accompanied by colorful illustrations. Each book also includes a QR code with options for Jennings to read the book to you and to explain the construction process as the story proceeds.  

Before bringing rhyme, illustration and construction together, how does Jennings begin his own creative process? “I always come up with the full title of the book first; at the end of each book, the last sentence is the title of the book," he says. I can’t get started in my mind unless I know where the book is going.”

Ever the engineer, Jennings then goes into Excel and comes up with each four-line verse. “I just do my best to make it rhyme, but it is hard to rhyme with abutment,” he jokes. 

whats the story?

Jennings always knows what he wants to write about before he begins writing. He also knows his next book will be about either construction equipment or building a wastewater treatment plant, because that is what his company is working on right now.

His first book also drew on personal experience. “We have lots of potholes in Honolulu, so everyone can relate the that,” he says. “The second book I wrote because I love bridges. The third one I wrote because I wanted to teach people how to lay a pipe. Ted the Termite is always having a problem and he has to solve it.”

Sometimes Ted seeks the help of his father, friends or even his mother, an important representation for the diversification of the industry. “We have a lot of women in the industry now,” Jennings says, “especially here on the management side. Our staff of 18 comprises a total of five young women straight out of engineering. I had some of them look at the book and they said I need more women, so in ‘The Rain Won’t Drain,’ Ted’s mom is on the survey gun.”

Jennings’ goal is to complete two books per year from 2022 to 2024. He is halfway there and hopes to release his next book later this year. You can find Ted the Termite and follow him on his adventures on Amazon. 


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