Wyatt Edsel, E.I., of Altamont Environmental, Inc. has been named 2016 Young Engineer of the Year for the North Carolina Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).
Wyatt has worked for Altamont since June 2013. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University.
Eligible nominees for the award are engineers under age 35 who demonstrate ASCE’s mission of advancing the civil engineering profession and serving the public good.
“Wyatt is enthusiastic in his work, communicates well with clients and colleagues, and never hesitates to take on a new challenge,” says Altamont’s Tony Hauser, P.L.A., P.E. “He acts as a leader on a personal level by engaging in local volunteer opportunities where he shares his engineering experience in erosion control, pollution prevention, stormwater volume/quality management, and similar site-civil-related topics. Wyatt also recently worked with a local nonprofit to introduce the practice of engineering to a group of local underprivileged youth.”
Altamont president Stu Ryman, P.G., readily concurs.
“Since day one of his employment with Altamont, Wyatt has demonstrated a wonderful combination of initiative, self-direction, and teamwork,” says Ryman. “He is an inquisitive, hard-working young engineer who is very willing to stretch his boundaries and take on challenging new tasks. He brings a refreshing can-do attitude to the workplace, which is coupled with a strong intellect and a passion for producing a quality product for his clients.”
Edsel, who is working toward earning his Professional Engineer license, was kind enough to do a little Q&A with us.
Wyatt, when did you decide you wanted to be an engineer? And what attracted you to the profession?
When I was in high school I wanted to be an artist. My parents encouraged me to go to college and get a technical degree. At that point in my life, I didn’t know what I wanted or what to do with my life.
My dad is basically an engineer without a degree. He has designed and created some amazing things, and I’ve always enjoyed working with him. He suggested that I go to North Carolina State University for civil engineering and told me that I could always change my major if I found something else I liked better.
College was fun but academia is not the best fit for me. I did fine but was never fully engaged in what I was doing.
After college, I took some time off from engineering and worked out west for a while. After about a year I re-entered the engineering field. It wasn’t until I began working at Altamont that I began to fall in love with the career that I had chosen.
Through the projects that I have worked on while at Altamont, I’ve learned that I can combine my education, my construction-based experience, and my artistic abilities as a designer of civil infrastructure.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but my parents recognized that this career is a good fit for my abilities, interests, and personality.
What does it mean to you to earn this honor—the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 2016 Young Engineer of the Year Award for the North Carolina Section?
I am truly honored and humbled to be selected for the award. I am very thankful to all the mentors in my field and my life that have helped me become the engineer that I am.
Receiving this award is very empowering and comes at a time when I am getting ready to sit for my Principles and Practice of Engineering—PE—exam. It encourages me to continue to dedicate myself to my career and use my abilities to make the best impact I can.
I feel like the “Obligation of the Engineer” says it better than I can:
As an engineer, I pledge to practice Integrity and Fair Dealing, Tolerance, and Respect, and to uphold devotion to the standards and dignity of my profession, conscious always that my skill carries with it the obligation to serve humanity by making best use of the Earth’s precious wealth.
As an engineer, I shall participate in none but honest enterprises. When needed, my skill and knowledge shall be given without reservation for the public good. In the performance of duty, and in fidelity to my profession, I shall give the utmost.
Describe what a typical workday looks like for you.
One of the great things about working at Altamont is getting the opportunity to work on such a wide variety of projects. On any given day, I could be in the office working on a site design for a new commercial development, performing some hydraulic modeling to create an emergency action plan for a dam failure, observing the construction of something I designed, visiting a new potential project site to discuss solutions to a client’s problems—or a wide variety of other things.
Would you give a shout out to a favorite project you’ve worked on? And what your role was with it?
I enjoyed designing and overseeing the construction of the new Apple Tree Honda dealership that opened a year or so ago off exit 40 on Interstate 26. It was a challenging project that presented several obstacles. I worked on the project from start to finish, so it was especially satisfying to see it through to completion. I worked on the site design, grading, erosion and sediment control, stormwater routing and detention, and public utility extensions.
What do you do for fun?
I’m addicted to whitewater. I’m always looking for my next PFD (personal first decent) or paddling one of the classic local whitewater rivers.
I love music. I play guitar and drums and like to rock out with my buddies or check out a live show in town.
I feel most at home in nature. I can’t think of a more relaxing thing than loading up a backpack and wandering out into the woods for a weekend.
What is something surprising about you?
I built the house that I’ve been living in the past 2.5 years.
What do you like best about working at Altamont?
The people, hands down. My coworkers are some of my best friends, and they make the workday really fun and entertaining.