Love, Kudos, Remembrance is an occasional installment profiliing people from the Main Line who stumble into grand loves, stand out to their neighbors and whose memories remain after they're gone.
Throughout his 29 years teaching at Drexel University, Joseph Martin always stressed the “big picture” to his engineering students.
“In each class, I’ve told students a few things I want them to remember after the final exam, and one of them is how we as engineers fit into the larger picture,” the longtime Havertown resident said. “I say to them, ‘you as engineers are always expected to pay attention in your role, especially about how you contribute to make people’s lives better.”
“That’s important to know, even in a hydraulics course,” Martin added.
It’s this service philosophy on the “big picture” that recently won Martin, a professor of Drexel’s Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering department, the title of 2012 Engineer of the Year for the Delaware County Chapter of the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers (PSPE).
Martin’s honor was announced in news release sent via e-mail Sunday, Jan. 15, which said that he would be recognized at a banquet at the Town House restaurant in Media on Feb. 16, three days before National Engineers Week begins.
PSPE does a call for candidates each year after Labor Day and through October via the Internet and press releases. Nick Cirilli, who sits on the selection committee, said the number of candidates varies from year to year, but is always enough that the selection committee has difficulty, decided who to award the honor.
The criteria for selection include professional achievement, contributions to the profession, awards and recognition, published technical papers, educational background and other activities in which the candidates are involved. Each criteria is given a specific numerical rating, and Martin held high ratings all categories.
In addition to his role as an engineering professor – Martin says many engineers from Delaware County were former students – Martin reflected fondly on his work with the United States Agency for International Development.
In the mid-1990s, Martin and several colleagues working under the U.S. Agency for International Development collaborated on an environmental protection project in Peru.
Residents from shantytowns in the hills of Lima, Peru were dealing with crushing poverty from mining shut down due to huge amounts of acid-mine drainage.
Martin and his colleagues remedied the problem with creating mechanisms in the mine to cause the drainage to precipitate using local materials.
Martin said it was rewarding to help the people of these towns so they could return to their homes.
“When I did the work in South America, the people there thought highly of the ‘ingenieros,’” he said. “To these people, engineers were expected to be leaders of society as well as good techies.”
Martin also had a hand in helping International Development determine the suitability for construction and support the ecology of a building design in Costa Rica in 1997 to help the country support protection for turtles when they migrated to the region.
Engineering and teaching aside, Martin is a dedicated community member of Haverford Township.
In addition to serving on the Haverford Township Environmental Advisory Board, Martin also serves on the Constellation District Eagle and Boy Scouts Troop 463, as well as the Haverford Township School Board.
Martin said he’s most proud of his work on with the Eagle Board.
“It helps young people grow,” Martin said. “To see the accomplishments of these boys is a honor, even if I haven’t always contributed to that development.”
With the school district, Martin helps to ensure construction projects are done on time and within the budgetary means.
Martain added that his friends and family sometimes jeer when they see him speaking at the televised Haverford Township board meetings.
“As an engineer, I’m into analysis – taking stuff apart and putting it together,” he added. “My friends and family see me on the TV, and they get a kick out of it.”
“Sometimes it makes me obnoxious, but it’s my job to work backwards to find an underlying approach for people,” Martin said. “I got here with a hell of a lot of people’s help, including the taxpayers who believed and invested in me, and I plan on delivering for them.”
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