You hear about it all the time: work-life balance. But does any employee actually experience it? Design Engineer August Lorenzen chose to return to Team Steffes not only for the balance he once enjoyed but also for the sense of community he missed.
When August moved to the Peace Garden State in 2015 from Jefferson City, Montana, he had accepted a position as a frac field engineer, keeping him on the road for weeks at a time. Having just started a family, he knew he needed to make a change, or he would miss out on many of life’s most important moments. “I wanted a better work-life balance,” August said. “And I found that in 2016 when I signed on as a product engineer.”
“Coming to Steffes allowed me to come home to my family every night.”
August put his bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering to good use in Steffes’ oilfield skids division. His knowledge grew over three years with the team, especially in product design, project management, and general engineering practices. August completed a master’s degree program in mechanical engineering through the University of Cincinnati in 2018, utilizing Steffes’ education reimbursement program to support his professional development goals. “It helped me know that I would be supported while working to gain more knowledge of manufacturing and engineering as a whole,” he said.
August worked for Steffes for three years before exploring different roles in the energy industry outside of manufacturing. While he enjoyed the change to his routine, something was… missing. “After two and a half years away, I realized how important a strong culture and teamwork were to me, especially when it started at the top and carried through all levels of a company. I wanted to come back, not only for challenging projects but also to collaborate with a group I knew would be supportive as I worked through those projects.”
He returned to Steffes in January 2022 as a design engineer II and was promoted to design engineer III in December of the same year. He now designs for Steffes in the original equipment manufacturing (OEM) and gas management division, playing a hand in developing more intricate oilfield equipment, such as flares and pressure-reducing blowers (PRBs). He is also licensed as a professional engineer (PE) in the state of North Dakota.
When he is in his workspace on the second floor of Steffes’ East building in Dickinson, August is designing products, analyzing test data, or running sizing calculations for different product applications. On the production floor, at the test yard, or in the New Product Development (NPD) lab, he runs tests, builds prototypes for new products, or solves issues with other employees and engineers. A “typical day” just isn’t in the vocabulary of an engineer! “It makes coming to work enjoyable,” August said, “not quite knowing what the next obstacle is going to be but still being able to take on the challenge.”
August is allocating his free space across his computer and mind to a joint endeavor with the Energy and Environmental Research Council (EERC) at the University of North Dakota. Together, Steffes and the EERC are developing technology to reduce the amount of gas flared in the Bakken.
“As our oil plays continue to shift and mature, I’m excited to continue to work to make oil and gas development as efficient as possible while reducing our environmental impact.”
Collaboration continues to be one of the highlights of August’s career at Steffes. “It’s great knowing everyone is working toward the same goals,” he said. “It allows people with different backgrounds and perspectives to come together to produce the best solution, rather than having the loudest voice make the decision.”
August’s desire to be approachable as a mentor by new engineers both inside and outside the organization is strong; he’s a member of “Dream It Do It,” a group that hosts events allowing area students to explore career paths open to them in the manufacturing sector. “Being able to give advice, to show people what to look for, or what not to do, in a situation is something that I think is invaluable as we continue to grow and bring in new talent.”
In his personal life, August enjoys maintaining his physical fitness through Olympic Weightlifting and CrossFit. He goes home to his wife, Nikita, and children, Mia and Owen, every night, a house made “hectic” by his family’s love for fostering abandoned dogs. He has appreciated every minute of the balance he’s enjoyed since he came back to Steffes.