Merrimack College was well represented at the Boston Society of Civil Engineers’ annual awards dinner in June, where Associate Professor Marc Veletzos and Christopher Cole ’04 were both honored for excellence in their field.
Veletzos, a member of the civil engineering faculty in the School of Engineering and Computational Sciences, received the College Educator of the Year award, while Cole, the assistant public works director for the town of Reading, MA, was named the Government Civil Engineer of the Year.
“It is quite an honor,” said Veletzos. “The Boston Society is the oldest civil engineering society in the country and pre-dates the national American Society of Civil Engineers. So to be recognized by that group is very special.”
Cole has worked for Reading’s Department of Public Works since graduating from Merrimack nearly 20 years ago. He began in the engineering division before working his way up to assistant director. Among his duties are overseeing operations for the department of 60 employees across 10 divisions including engineering, water, sewer, stormwater, highway, parks, forestry, cemetery, vehicle maintenance and administration.
“Every day you never know what will come up,” said Cole. “Public works is the glue that holds the town’s infrastructure together. I’ve done everything from design and project management for underground utilities, road construction, traffic signal repair and redesigning parks to now overseeing the operation of the entire department.”
Cole picked Merrimack in part because of its close-knit environment and how well the civil engineering professors knew their students. When he first started at Merrimack, Cole said he originally thought he’d get his degree and then go work for a private engineering firm.
That all changed after he did co-op.
“I did a co-op at the Lynnfield Public Works Department and the director there really took me under his wing and showed me all the opportunities there are working in municipal engineering,” Cole said.
Since graduating Cole has remained heavily involved in Merrimack’s civil engineering department. He is a past president of the Civil Engineering Alumni Organization and currently serves on the organization’s executive board. He also recently joined the inaugural Industry Advisory Board for the department.
Additionally, Cole is an advisor and mentor to the department’s student steel bridge team, which he served as the captain of during his senior year and led Merrimack to a victory in the New England regional competition.
For Veletzos, it is the growth and successes of his students that bring him joy as an educator. From working closely with students on the steel bridge teams to leading students on research and service learning trips to Haiti and Nepal, Veletzos said he has a great sense of pride for his students, many of whom have gone on to make impacts across the industry.
“The mantra I give to civil engineering students is ‘We make civilization,’” Veletzos said. “We make the buildings, the roads, the dams. As engineers, they can impact the society around them. And not just locally, but on a global scale.”