Municipalities face many unique challenges every day. These challenges arise via citizen output, changing and expanding regulatory requirements, regular growth and development, and through infrastructure systems in need of improvement.
At times, these unique challenges require outside consultant assistance. When needed, municipal engineering consultant staff work as an extension of the communities they represent by attending council meetings, weekly staff meetings, assessing and evaluating infrastructure, and helping communities plan and construct improvement projects.
How can your community benefit from municipal engineering services?
Municipal engineering consultants have the unique ability to provide integrated and cost-effective services as a result of a firm’s multidiscipline capabilities and experienced professionals.
Some services municipal engineering staff offer to communities include:
- Civil Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Electrical Engineering
- Environmental Engineering
- Public Involvement
- Public Interaction Techniques
- Demand Forecasting
- Alternatives Evaluation
- Grants and Funding
- Zoning Code Review
- Plat Reviews
- Design Plan Review
We chatted with one of our municipal engineering experts, Stephen Preston, PE, to better understand municipal engineering, from the rewarding aspects of the job down to its challenges.
A Conversation with Our Municipal Engineer
What tasks are a municipal engineering team responsible for?
Stephen Preston, PE (SP) – As municipal engineers we are tasked with working closely with a community’s staff and administration to find ways to fund and improve the community’s infrastructure, while also planning for the future. We work closely with communities to analyze, evaluate, design, fund, and construct projects that improve the quality of life for residents. These projects include everything from annual street resurfacing projects, to stormwater improvements and water distribution/wastewater improvements.
We also help communities update planning and zoning codes, develop capital improvement plans, and funding strategies. Additionally, our municipal engineers collaborate with our planning team to assist communities in developing comprehensive plans that will shape their communities for the next 10-15 years.
What is the most rewarding aspect of municipal engineering?
SP – The most rewarding aspect is seeing a project from inception through construction. Countless projects start as just an idea or pipedream brought up in a meeting. It’s our job in municipal services to turn that idea into reality. It’s extremely gratifying and rewarding when you’re able to take this idea and see it being constructed a year or two later while knowing you played a role in getting it funded and designed.
Another aspect I truly value is the relationships I’ve built along the way. I enjoy getting to work and develop relationships with people who push the status quo to improve their communities. There is nothing worse than “this is the way we’ve always done it,” so working with communities who want to push the envelope and achieve new heights is rewarding.
How does municipal engineering differ from some of the other engineering disciplines at ms?
SP – Municipal engineering really is a catch-all for the other disciplines at ms. It is essential that our municipal staff has a thorough understanding of our services and disciplines so we can better serve our clients. Communities have diverse needs, ranging from bridges and utilities to planning and bike trails. You never know what services a community may need on any given day. Our staff is skilled and unique in that we have experts in each of these areas providing full service opportunities for our clients. Our job as municipal engineers is to get the right person from ms on the job so we can best serve the client.
What drew you to working in municipal engineering? How were you introduced to this field?
SP – Originally from the Youngstown, Ohio area, I knew I wanted to come back home after graduating from The Ohio State University to do my part to make a positive difference in my community. The opportunity to work with our local communities to improve the quality of life for the residents of the Mahoning Valley is a rewarding and gratifying experience.