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Member Spotlight:

Ewald Schwarzenegger, P.E.

Posted March 20, 2019


Ewald Schwarzenegger is one of those engineers who values getting his hands dirty.

Growing up in New York, Schwarzenegger was propelled into the construction trades by his parents who owned a small resort in the Catskills. At age 12, he began learning how to do painting, carpentry and other work around the property. By age 17, he was logging 70 hours a week onsite and insisting on cutting his workweek to six days. When he went to college, however, he studied construction management and began working outside jobs pouring concrete, laying brick and installing new kitchens. That experience provided invaluable insights when he later earned a degree in mechanical engineering.

“I think any engineer should be out in the field working and learning about how things go together, the difficulties that surface in construction and how to design things that are workable,” Schwarzenegger said.

Fieldwork has continued to teach Schwarzenegger how to be a better engineer throughout his career. Transitioning from mechanical to civil engineering, Schwarzenegger began working on site work projects, road projects and stormwater management projects. While analyzing failed waste water treatment systems in New York City, he discovered a regular pattern of failures in sand filters. That discovery enabled him to develop an improved, tiered filtering system and secure a patent on the design.

Paying close attention to conditions in the field has also become vital to Schwarzenegger‘s current specialty — stream restoration.  The process, he said, is all about “stream psychology. You’re trying to figure out what is happening to the stream, what it is trying to do and why. It’s a very dynamic situation. There are many things that can cause stream degradation and many things to consider when you are trying to figure out how to stabilize it.”

Climate change is making the specialty even more complex, he said. The increasing frequency of severe storms is forcing governments and property owners to change their approach to water management, especially in densely developed areas. New York City, Schwarzenegger noted, changed its benchmark for a 100-year storm from seven inches of rain to 14 inches. Meanwhile, officials in Howard County have adopted more aggressive approaches to stormwater measures following multiple, catastrophic flash floods in Ellicott City.

A serial entrepreneur and an avid mentor to young engineers, Schwarzenegger sees MDSPE as a good forum to help young engineers develop their skills and recognize the extensive and emerging opportunities in this profession. 





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