Joseph Danko (M.S. ChemE, 1985) has more than 30 years of experience in consulting, engineering, design, construction management, and operations. He is currently the managing director of city solutions for CH2M (now Jacobs). In this role, he leads development and implementation of projects and programs in resilience, urban development, smart cities, and mobility for cities and communities around the world. In 2007, he was inducted into the Oregon State University College of Engineering’s Academy of Distinguished Engineers.
Question: What are you most proud of in your career as an engineer?
Answer: Making the world a better place through the projects and programs that I have been able to participate in (hazardous waste cleanup, industrial wastewater treatment systems, major site regeneration projects, and large events like Qatar World 2022 World Cup where we developed breakthrough worker welfare standards). Leading the integration of sustainability in planning, engineering and constructing projects.
Q: What do you love best about what you do?
A: Working on projects that make people’s lives better: “Engineering and Meaningfulness.” Trying to integrate social values into all of our infrastructure projects. For example, workforce development to employ the currently underemployed, or unemployed, community members in the communities where we are implementing projects and programs.
Q: What do you most look forward to?
A: From a professional perspective, continuing to develop and implement projects focused on equity, sustainability, and resiliency. We are now integrating real-time data analysis and the IoT with our water and transportation infrastructure to improve safety, reduce non-revenue water losses, break the digital divide, reduce congestion, and increase workforce development. There is no limit to the potential positive impacts engineers can have on improving the environment and enhancing the lives of all people.
Q: Looking back on your time here at Oregon State, what did you do here that has best served you in your professional life?
A: The combined chemical engineering and environmental engineering M.S. degree was a game-changer. It provided such a strong foundation/platform for the engineering work at CH2M Hill. I also connected with colleagues from CH2M Hill during my graduate program. The networking was a key door-opener for me.
Q: What is the best advice you could give to a student just starting out with an engineering degree from Oregon State?
A: Enjoy every phase of your career. It is critical in the early years to immerse yourself in “Technical Implementation in the Real World.” Embrace learning how to plan, design, build, and operate systems. This will provide the foundation for you to become a future technical leader, project manager or business manager.