New Year’s AEC Challenge: Volunteer to build up your communities

Posted in: Bridges, Construction, Highways


As communities look to establish and enhance public spaces, engineers have a unique set of skills that can help make civic projects a reality. Towns and organizations of all sizes have projects that can benefit from our expertise. We can make a major impact in a personal way by volunteering our time and abilities to these local projects.

I live in the small town of Houston, Minnesota. With a population of 1,000, funding special projects is a challenge. Houston depends on volunteers and donations to make these projects happen. This was true when Houston was selected to host the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Moving Wall display during its town celebration in July 2004. The committee in charge of the celebration needed help laying out the location and elevation of the wall’s future site. Mead & Hunt encouraged me and my team to volunteer our time and resources to provide surveying services for this local project. The Moving Wall was deemed a huge success, and an estimated 10,000 people viewed the display during the five days it stood in Houston.

Since 2004, we have assisted the City of Houston on other beneficial community projects. We helped the local Lions Club construct the Band Shell, a multi-purpose venue at the Houston Nature Center. We also provided surveying and staking for the construction of a natural playground at the Houston Nature Center and future location of the International Owl Center. In addition to participating in Career Day at Houston High School, my team and I look forward to providing mapping services for the Houston Fire Department’s gravesite marker project.

Using your technical talents by volunteering for local construction projects is a great way to enhance your community while meeting the people of the communities you serve. I’ve worked with enthusiastic citizens who selflessly volunteer to strengthen their hometown; business owners who are excited to give back to their customers; and community leaders who make decisions for the benefit of their districts.

Finding ways to give back and invest in clients, stakeholders and citizens is a part of our job as engineers. With the new year at hand, I challenge each AEC professional to immerse themselves in civic engagement and use their skills for a local volunteer project. Not only will you be rewarded with pride in your work, but you will feel a little bit closer to the community you call home.


Jay Wheaton, PE

About the Author

Jay Wheaton, P.E., is a transportation engineer with a wide variety of construction management experience from two-lane rural highways to complex urban streets, as well as freeway and bridge projects. Jay is committed to providing high quality work exceeding clients’ expectations.

Read more posts by Jay Wheaton, PE

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