If you haven’t yet witnessed Thunder Over Louisville—one of the most impressive airshows and fireworks displays in the United States—consider adding it to your bucket list. It begins each April, timed to kick off two weeks of Kentucky Derby Festivities. It’s probably the event that led me to my career in civil engineering.
When I was a child, my Aunt Sharon took me—a small-town Kentucky boy—down to the banks of the Ohio River in Louisville to watch the show. As I stared up at the fireworks, I was awed by the 2,400-foot long John F. Kennedy bridge that carried vehicles across one of the widest points of the Ohio River. I thought to myself, “How cool would it be to build something like that?” It may have been that moment that made me interested in civil engineering.
And as I grew, so did my interest in highway engineering. Living in northeastern Kentucky, I began to see how difficult it was for rural folks to get somewhere to see a good doctor, to find a job (or a better paying one), to shop, or merely to be entertained. This realization made me want to help improve people’s lives by building better highway transportation. Therefore, in 1996 I accepted a scholarship from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to attend the University of Kentucky.
While working for 15 years at KYTC, I worked on a variety of projects, including routine grade work and asphalt; however, my proudest achievement was helping build the Abraham Lincoln Cable Stay Bridge. Standing adjacent to the John F. Kennedy Bridge, it now carries all northbound I-65 traffic across the Ohio. I feel blessed to have been able to realize my childhood dream and I’m thankful to the leaders of KYTC for their faith in me.
My wife Cindy and I now live in the Portland neighborhood in Louisville’s West End. I joined Qk4 in 2016, and during that time I’ve helped communities and governments solve transportation problems on a shoestring budget. I’ve also helped reshape the UofL campus. And, lately, I’ve been helping my friends at the KYTC improve over 1,000 bridges in short order.
I told Cindy that I would keep working as long as I was having fun—so I imagine I’ll be at Qk4 for quite some time! Beyond the work itself, it feels like I’m working with family here. . . because people treat each other like family. It is a joy to be a part of such an awesome team of professionals.