WATERLOO — Many people take pride in their work, but not everyone can show their kids what they do every day.
“It’s definitely one of my favorite things, being able to take my kids to a construction site and show them something I’m designing and working on,” said Michelle Sweeney.
As Senior Project Manager for AECOM’s Waterloo branch, he has had many opportunities to do just that. At age 37, she has been the project leader for the $38 million University Avenue reconstruction in Waterloo and the Viking Road widening in Cedar Falls, including the Iowa Highway 58/Viking Road interchange and the Prairie Lakes Trail underpass. Her fingerprints can also be found on the Cedar Falls Meyers Pedestrian Bridge, the trail underpass along Greenhill Road, the National Cattle Congress sanitary sewer, and the Waterloo Center for the Arts.
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Sweeney has been named to the 2022 class of 20 Under 40 honorees.
She doesn’t always get the flashiest assignments, but she loves the change the job brings. It keeps her on her toes, she said, and keeps her from getting bored.
“I like variety in what I do. I like working on a $40 million interchange to working on a small ADA (compliant) sidewalk,” Sweeney said, referencing the Americans with Disabilities Act. “I also love working with the public. I love working with them on how we can make them better because honestly, at the end of the day, the public is the user of these corridors and these projects.
Always adept with numbers, Sweeney first got the engineering bug while she was attending Don Bosco High School in Gilbertville. The career path was suggested to him by his mathematics teacher, Roger Hahn. She went to engineering camps at the University of Wisconsin–Platteville and Iowa State University in Ames, eventually studying and graduating from the latter.
While doing these camps, he learned various engineering disciplines, from electrical to aerospace. However, it was in civil engineering that Sweeney found his calling.
“What I loved about civil engineering and what I still love is that I love the outdoors. Not only do I get to design my own projects, but I get to go out in the field and There’s also a chance to assist with construction by administering contracts with our clients. So that’s what I love – I love the flexibility of being in and out.
When she wasn’t working in engineering, Sweeney was spending time with her three children and volunteering for various charitable groups around Cedar Valley. These include board membership in the Waterloo Kiwanis Club and work with Irish Fest, the Salvation Army, Adopt-a-Family and St. Athanasius School in Jessup, where she sat on the board. He also volunteers for his church and the Buchanan County Fair.
Along with his community work, Sweeney has taken a keen interest in the direction of his region and its future. She is an advisory committee member for the Hawkeye Community College Engineering Tech Program, a committee member for the Women’s Transportation Symposium, and a board member for the Iowa Statewide Urban Design and Specifics.
Their efforts have not been lost on Doug Schindel, AECOM’s field operations manager. He cited their professionalism and commitment, as well as the work they do around the community.
Shindell wrote in her nomination, “Michelle Sweeney is an outstanding candidate because of her dedication to her profession, volunteer activities, and commitment to Cedar Valley.” “Her enthusiasm, hard work ethic and positive attitude are the qualities that have made her successful.”
Courier 20 Under 40 Class of 2022