D. Scott Wolf, P.E., PLS, F.NSPE

Member Since: 
1998

D. Scott Wolf, P.E., PLS, F.NSPEWhat you do:
I currently serve as senior advisor in the Federal Highway Administration’s Center for Accelerating Innovation. In this role, I provide leadership, guidance, and support in the development of innovation policy and innovation deployment initiatives for FHWA. We are working with our state and local transportation agency partners and industry stakeholders to bring efficiencies to highway project development and delivery—ensuring our roads and bridges are built better, smarter, and faster.

What do you value in the people you work with?
FHWA was recently ranked as one of the Top 5 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government by the Partnership for Public Service. This ranking is a result of many attributes of our agency, but the element I value the most about my colleagues is the commitment to public service. Whether facing changing legislative requirements, increasing responsibilities, funding reductions, or pay freezes, the FHWA family remains committed to serving the public to deliver the multibillion dollar Federal-aid and Federal Lands Highway Programs with which we have been entrusted, and more generally in fulfilling the broad responsibility of ensuring the safety and mobility of our nation’s highway system.

Biggest professional role model?
It is difficult for me to name a single individual as my biggest professional role model. During college, I learned a great deal from several colleagues at my first engineering-related job, working part-time at a local consultant engineering firm. Also, I would contribute my active involvement in local chapters of professional societies in shaping who I am today. After college, my career branched in a number of different directions ultimately taking me from the private sector to the public sector and serving in a number of capacities. I have learned something from my peers and colleagues at each step along the way and I will continue to learn and grow as my career advances.

What do you think companies need to do to attract younger generations into the engineering industry?
The engineering profession still carries with it the nerd stereotype and I think most of society does not understand exactly what engineers do, as most of our work is performed behind the scenes and often taken for granted. Public outreach to younger generations is necessary to educate them on not only the stability and benefits of an engineering career, but the numerous behind the scenes activities that engineers perform for society. Engineers essentially make the world go round and this needs to be demonstrated to younger generations more often than National Engineers Week.

If you weren't an engineer, you'd be:
Although rather different professions and the punch line of many jokes, if I weren’t an engineer I would be a lawyer, or perhaps a politician. This could explain why I have enjoyed my tenure with the federal government so much, since my positions have required a blend of all three skill sets—engineer, lawyer, and politician.

Proudest engineering accomplishment:
The highlight of my career to date would have to be obtaining my professional engineering and land surveying licenses. These milestones were the culmination of years of hard work and are now a symbol of my dedication to the profession and the public that I serve. Being recognized by my peers and named a Fellow with NSPE is also a truly special honor.

Aside from these career milestones, my proudest engineering accomplishment comes down to knowing I made a difference. Whether seeing the construction and opening of a project that I spent years designing, drafting a regulation to enhance delivery of transportation projects, seeing a colleague understand a new technical concept, or encouraging a kid to pursue a career in engineering, the reward is knowing that either I made a positive impact to the public welfare or I was able to give back to the profession that has done so much for me.

Your hobbies?
When free time presents itself, I enjoy the outdoors and like to spend the day fishing and boating on the Potomac River or Chesapeake Bay.

Finish this sentence: In 10 years, I will have...
a new and bigger boat. In all seriousness, it is difficult for me to say exactly where I may be and what I may have achieved in 10 years. My career did not follow the path I had originally envisioned upon graduation, but I do not have any regrets. With each career move, I sought to be challenged and for the opportunity to both grow and make a difference. So, while I am not able to say where I may be or what I may have achieved in 10 years, I know that I will have continued to make a positive impact on the public welfare and the engineering profession.

You joined NSPE to...
network with peers and grow professionally. I was fortunate to have an active local chapter and state society of NSPE to become engaged with early on in my career. I have served NSPE at the local, state, and national levels, and I can assure you that you will get more out of NSPE than you put in. NSPE has certainly helped me grow as an individual and I have made many friendships that will last my lifetime. I am truly honored to currently serve on the NSPE Board of Directors and help shape the future of the Society as we continue our Race for Relevance.

Your desert island book:
I’m actually not a big book reader. The daily newspaper and professional publications, such as PE magazine, are about the extent of my leisure reading. Although, with fishing and perhaps boating opportunities, who needs a book on a desert island?