Klotz views engineering as a 'license to change the world.'
Houston civil engineer and UH Cullen College of Engineering alumnus D. Wayne Klotz (MSCE ’76) was named the keynote speaker for the college’s fall 2019 commencement on Friday, December 13. He earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Texas A&M University in 1974 and a master’s degree in civil engineering from the Cullen College in 1976.
He is honored, humbled and excited about the opportunity to address a new generation of UH engineers setting out to make their mark on the world.
“I don’t care what flavor of engineer you are – whether it’s civil, mechanical, chemical, petroleum, it doesn’t matter – you can make an impact,” Klotz said. “As engineers, we literally can change the world."
Klotz has a long and fruitful relationship with UH and the college. When Klotz decided to get his master’s degree, he was already married and working full-time at a Houston engineering firm. “I had a wife, I had major financial responsibilities, but I wanted to learn more,” he said. “For my entire time at the University of Houston, I literally worked all day and went to school at night. I was smart enough to reserve weekends for my wife.”
He worked on projects in the water resources field at his job, and studied water resources and hydraulics at the Cullen College. “The things I was working on during the day were the things I was studying about at night, but at a much higher level,” Klotz said. “It allowed me to rapidly prove my value to the company because the things I learned at night, I put into practice at the job over the next weeks and months.” The end result, he said, was that his “career took a very high trajectory, very early.”
Klotz founded the Klotz Associates civil engineering firm in 1985 and served as president before retiring in 2017. He is now president of Klotz Strategies — a consulting service that helps other engineering firms, businesses and public entities achieve their goals. He has made more than a lifetime’s-worth of achievements and contributions in his 45-year career.
A Lifetime of Giving & Serving
His career success led him to establish the Klotz Associates Endowed Scholarship in Civil Engineering at both A&M and UH.
The Cullen College considers Klotz to be a steadfast friend and honored both him and Klotz Associates as Bridgebuilders in 2018. The Bridgebuilder Society represents the college’s most generous donors, who have accumulated a lifetime of giving amounting to $100,000 or more. His unwavering commitment to the Cullen College also earned him the Distinguished Alumni Award from the UH Engineering Alumni Association in 2012.
He is also a member of the UH Civil and Environmental Engineering Academy and served on the Engineering Leadership Board.
In 2011, Houston’s then-mayor Annise D. Parker appointed Klotz to the Coastal Water Authority’s board of directors, where he continues to serve as board president. He was co-chair for public works on Parker’s transition team and went on to chair Mayor Sylvester Turner’s public works transition committee as well. The Houston City Council proclaimed a day in his honor twice for his service to the city.
Klotz served 12 years as a Harris County appointee to the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District. Harris County also appointed him to serve on the Harris County Flood Control Task Force, a position he held for over 25 years.
He co-founded the Transportation Advocacy Group Houston Region (TAG), the largest transportation education and policy group in the Houston area, and served on the board during its foundational years.
On the national level, Klotz was a member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Community Resilience Task Force.
In 2018, he received the Outstanding Practitioner in Water Resources Engineering Award from the American Academy of Water Resources Engineers (AAWRE). His other earned credentials include F.EWRI, D.WRE, BCEE, and ENV SP.
Klotz served as national president of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in 2009, leading an organization with over 150,000 members. In 2010, Klotz led ASCE to cofound the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) and served as national Chair of the institute in 2013. Since then he’s been a board member and helped shepherd the institute’s advancement of civil engineering in sustainable design.
In addition, he has also served with the ACEC (American Council of Engineering Companies), the C Club, and the UH and A&M Civil Engineering Advisory Boards.
Other accolades earned by Klotz include: ASCE’s 2005 Edmund Friedman Professional Recognition Award, the 2011 Texas Engineer of the Year Award, and the 2011 Houston Engineer of the Year Award.
A&M named him a distinguished graduate in 2004. Both ASCE’s Texas Section and its Houston Branch have recognized his contributions with several awards. The Ricardo Palma University in Lima, Peru awarded him an honorary professorship in 2008. The American Water Works Association honored him with lifetime membership for his dedication to the association and the water profession.
Wisdom & Reflections
While Klotz appreciates all the awards and recognition, he also keeps them in perspective.
“If you live your life chasing awards, you might catch one but it doesn’t mean anything,” he said. “The ones that mean something are those you aren’t expecting, but somebody comes along and says we recognize you and what you have done.”
He married Karen Wilson in 1974 and they have four children and seven grandchildren. Klotz and his wife are active in ministries at Tallowood Baptist Church.
Klotz proudly identifies as a Legacy Cougar. He is the bridge between two other generations: His late mother attended UH for nursing, and his oldest son attended for graphic design.
“All of us were exactly why the University of Houston was founded,” Klotz said. “Houstonians who wanted to go to school and advance their education while living in their beloved home city. Without this university, I think the whole City of Houston would suffer.”
The fall 2018 UH Cullen College of Engineering commencement will be held at the Fertitta Center on Friday, December 13 at 6 p.m. For more information, please visit: https://www.egr.uh.edu/current-students/commencement