GALVESTON, Texas (Nov. 1, 2014) -- Perhaps no other U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District project has had the economic impact that the completion of the Houston Ship Channel has had on the nation; but if you were to ask a resident to name any of the designers or construction team workers responsible for maintaining this vital economic artery, you would most likely come up empty handed – and that’s fine by Project Engineer Alton “Al” Meyer.
As a part of the team charged with maintaining the channel, Meyer is content in realizing that individual contributions may remain unrecognized in the publics’ eye and says he’s proud of his work.
“Every time I look out of a window on the north side of the Jadwin Building (in Galveston) I can see the difference we are making,” said Meyer. “The work is tangible-you can see the results on the nautical charts or Google Earth or right outside our windows.”
Meyer began his career in the Phoenix Office in 1983 as an Army second lieutenant. In 1985, he resigned his commission to pursue a civilian career with the Corps and accepted a position at the Galveston District.
Initially employed in district’s General Engineering Section, Meyer’s recollections of his 29 years as an engineer with the district are rich and varied with some of his fondest memories ranging from surveying the levee alignment on the Wallisville non-overflow dam and witnessing a nighttime recovery operation from a barge in the middle of Galveston Bay to spending Thanksgiving on a dredge and participating in the bird abatement program at Mid Bay Island to deter migratory birds from nesting on the placement area construction site.
Throughout his career Meyer, employed in the district’s Construction Branch of the Northern Area Office, Houston Resident Office, says he’s worked for six supervisors, all of whom he describes as being excellent leaders.
“I’ve never had a bad supervisor, but that is because these supervisors have always worked with us as a team,” said Meyer. “It is never one individual, always a team.”
Today, Meyer is assigned to the Dredged Material Management Plan Project Development Team and continues to execute construction contracts to enable navigation along the HSC as well as the channels above Redfish Island and ensures that maintenance dredging activities are performed in an environmentally acceptable manner, use sound engineering techniques, are economically warranted and that sufficient placement area capacities are available.
“This is fun work and I continually have to ask myself, ‘Did I choose this field or did it choose me?’”, said Meyer. “We are doing something important by helping maintain channels and navigation. This work is about providing a benefit for other folks.”
A native of Austin, Texas, Meyer graduated from Texas A&M University in 1982 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and is a licensed Professional Engineer. Married for 25 years, he enjoys spending time with his wife, son, daughter-in-law and grandson. His other passion is the handmade wooden sailboat he crafted in 2004, Wee Lass – named in honor of his wife, which according to his wife is still under construction. He and his wife enjoy weekend camping expeditions to area lakes, where he sails Wee Lass regularly.
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