In 1992, Thad started his journey at Vermont Tech and graduated in 1994 with an Associates in Civil & Environmental Engineering Technology. Thad chose to go to Vermont Tech because during his gap year he started working with a student going to VTC and he would talk about what he was learning in his classes. “I couldn’t believe you could go to school and learn to test soil, concrete, and more and it was a profession! With my fascination with construction work on highways, as I always liked going through the construction zones on road trips, and being good at math, I decided Vermont Tech was for me.”
Thad enjoyed his time at Vermont Tech, noting, “The community on campus was very supportive, from the professors, and the students in the program. It was like we were all on a job together. We all had to get these projects done and work in teams and it didn’t matter who you were, or where you were from, we were all in the same boat, and I learned a lot from the other students. We all worked together and supported each other and I thought that was one of the best things about my experience at Vermont Tech.”
Not only did he enjoy the culture, but Thad also enjoyed his classes. He recalled Professor Harry Wirtz (learn more about Harry Wirtz Scholarship) and the Structural class he taught. Thad conveyed, “One day he took a large rectangular foam piece with slots in it and bent the ends together to demonstrate tensions and compressions within the slots, explaining how forces are flowing through and what it does to the beam. I will never forget that visual.” He noted that even when he went to the University of Vermont to get his Bachelor’s, they used more theory, whereas VTC was more hands-on. “Something from that simple visual provided a lot of information and that’s the way his classes were, and it was helpful in my future studies and career.”
Thad still uses his teachings from Vermont Tech to this day, explaining, “Something I learned at Vermont Tech that I use in my career is before starting a task, take time to think about it and break it down, so you don’t have to back-track. It leads to fewer mistakes and in the long run, you become more efficient.” He remembers Albert Robitaille, Professor in Civil & Environmental Engineering, reminiscing, “He was teaching surveying and I started breaking out the equipment and taking shots, wanting to get to work right away. Professor Robitaille inserts himself and says, “Is that the best way to go about that?” He then states his famous line, “Sit down, have a smoke, and think about it.” While it wasn’t the healthiest advice, it was excellent for how to start a task or project.” (Learn more about Faculty at Vermont Tech). Thad says he still uses that advice today, at his current job at Stantec, for when they start a new project. Joking he says, “We just don’t smoke.”
Thad has been working at Stantec for over 22 years now. His past role includes being a Project Manager and now he is a Supervisor and Associate in the Transportation Department. His primary function is a Transport Engineer. He works on transportation projects all over the country doing 3D modeling for highway work. Some specific projects he’s working on is in Florida, working on 5 miles of 6-lane county road that is being upgraded, north of Miami. In Maryland, they have a project that is focusing on a bus lane to be incorporated into the public highway. He also does more local projects like working with the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) (Learn more about VTC’s collaboration with VTrans). All these projects are now using 3D modeling and Thad notes, “It has come a long way in the last 15 years and the civil engineering industry is moving in that direction. In the future, there will not be paper plans but digital models that have metadata stored in them. For example, if you have a guard rail, it’s going to be tagged as a guard rail, has an item number, and it could also have specifications attached to the element in CAD. Things are changing rapidly; my goal is to work on that and help our company progress in that direction. It’s pretty exciting.” Additionally, Thad does a lot of training for staff in different areas in the country, as Stantec has over 23,000 people worldwide and he expresses, “being able to connect with engineers and designers in other geographical locations is something I really enjoy.” Learn more about Stantec in our Vermont Tech Stantec YouTube video!
When asked if he would recommend VTC to younger generations he stated, “Absolutely, and I can say that because my son is attending Vermont Tech right now and is in the Computer Software Engineering Program. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to be in the STEM profession.” He further explains, “Vermont Tech’s greatest advantage is that it gives you a fair price and you can spend a year doing a lot of the work that’s in your field that you think you’re interested in. Not many 18-year old’s know what they want to do for the rest of their life, but VTC gives students the chance to see if they actually like the work because of the hands-on, immersive courses they offer right in the beginning of their studies.”
- Work hard! Look at this time as an adventure. Part of college is building connections and relationships with people and it’s important because you could potentially be working with for many years, like I am now at Stantec with over 21 VTC alumni here, we share that common history.
- Take advantage of all the resources available, like programs, and clubs, and take time to connect with others. Feeling connected to the community is important to help you get through tough academic times.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help and use the tutoring center! I don’t think I would have passed Physics without it.