Passion for People and Work Drives 2016 OPAL Honoree DiMaggio

January 15, 2016


Officially speaking, Jerry DiMaggio, P.E., D.GE, M.ASCE, is retired. Two times over, actually.

But in reality, DiMaggio is spending his 66th year hard at work as a principal engineer at Applied Research Associates Inc. for the research and technology deployment group. DiMaggio’s remarkable commitment to engineering throughout a career spanning five decades has earned him the ASCE 2016 Outstanding Projects And Leaders leadership award for government.

“I’m kind of a geek in that I like what I do and I like the people,” DiMaggio said. “If I have the choice to review an engineering paper or play a round of golf, I’d rather read the paper. You can’t be anything but what you are.”

Hailing from a blue-collar Brooklyn family, DiMaggio took a circuitous path to engineering. His first attempt at college lasted all of three days before he dropped out to drive a truck. When he returned a year later, it was a physics professor at Orange County Community College in Middletown, NY, who sparked his interest in civil engineering.

See a video about the winner, as presented at the gala:

Nearly 40 years – and four promotions – later, DiMaggio retired from his post as national program manager for geotechnical engineering at the Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation.

“That was home – got to travel a lot and meet a lot of people,” DiMaggio said. “It was just a very special growth period for me.”

He “retired” on a Friday and started work as implementation coordinator for the Second Strategic Highway Research Program at the National Academies the following Monday. He “retired” again in 2014, before starting work at Applied Research Associates.

“If you’re blessed in life and you find what God meant you to be and you’re enjoying it, then it’s important, I think, that you keep doing it.”

The OPAL awards honor outstanding leaders whose lifetime accomplishments contributed to civil engineering in one of five categories – construction, design, education, government, or management. The 2016 honorees were recognized at the OPAL Awards Gala, March 17, 2016, in Arlington, VA.

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