CULLEN COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING

University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering

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Alum Named Engineer of the Year

By: 

Toby Weber

The Houston E-Week Committee has named a Cullen College alumnus its 2011 Engineer of the Year.

Wayne Klotz (MSCE 1976) received the honor in recognition for his work with Klotz Associates, the civil engineering firm he co-founded, and for his service to the profession as national president of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Klotz served as head of ASCE from November 2008 to November 2009. During that period, congress and President Barack Obama debated and crafted the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus package.

During this same time, the ASCE was preparing its report card on the state of the nation’s infrastructure. Recognizing an ideal chance to advocate for a much-needed infrastructure investment, Klotz moved up the release of the report card to coincide with the stimulus debate. He soon was giving interviews to media outlets across the country, becoming the de facto spokesman for strengthening the nation’s infrastructure.

While the stimulus bill ended up dedicating less than 10% of its dollars to infrastructure, Klotz said, “the fact remains that it was a huge boost to public awareness that the basic infrastructure – water, wastewater drainage, paving, the building blocks of our modern society – need to be taken care of and improved.”

In addition to advocating for infrastructure spending, as ASCE president Klotz also worked to raise awareness of the need for sustainability in civil engineering projects. Sustainability in these efforts means accounting for three main factors in a project: its economic viability, environmental impact, and effect on the people who live and work near it.

Klotz’ focus on sustainability led to the recent creation of the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure, a partnership among the ASCE, the American Council of Engineering Companies and the American Public Works Association. Klotz is currently serving on the board of directors for this new group.

One of the ISI’s first projects is the creation of a rating tool, similar to the United States Green Building Council’s LEED program, to quantify the sustainability of civil engineering undertaking. The ISI and its rating system, Klotz said, “will oversee the sustainability effort for really the whole profession.”

While his efforts on behalf of his the civil engineering profession are impressive, Klotz has also reached great heights with the firm he co-founded in 1985. Klotz Associates works on all elements of public infrastructure, as well as on some commercial and industrial projects.

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