DARREN OLSON, PE, CFM
Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd. | Vice President
What is your current or most recent role in ASCE?
I’m currently Vice Chair of the ASCE National Committee on America’s Infrastructure (CAI) that puts out the Report Card on America’s Infrastructure every 4 years.
What ASCE positions have you held in the past, including any technical groups and committees?
I started as Secretary of the local EWRI technical group chapter (known at that time as EE&WR) in 1998 and worked my way up through the Illinois Section ranks and had the honor to serve as Section President more than a decade later. I served as ASCE Region 3 Governor for 6 years after that. I’ve also been on the ASCE National Public Policy Committee (PPC) for 3 years and now I’m the Vice Chair of the Committee on America’s Infrastructure (CAI).
Are there any other professional associations or organizations that you have been involved with?
I was on the Illinois Lieutenant Governor’s Science Advisory Committee under Lt. Governor Sheila Simon from 2011-2015. I’ve also been involved with the Illinois Association of Floodplain and Stormwater Managers (IAFSM).
What has been your most rewarding moment or contribution to the Civil Engineering profession?
From an ASCE perspective, the most rewarding aspect is being able to work on topics important to our profession and socialize with my peers in the industry. Of all this work, the Report Card has been the most rewarding experience, especially when Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker cited the 2018 Illinois Report Card on the first page of his 2019 Rebuild Illinois Capital Plan.
From a non-ASCE perspective, I hope that I’ve been able to contribute to society by helping to plan, design and build flood control projects that keep people and property safe. I’ve always enjoyed streams, rivers and lakes, and to be able to work with water resources for my career has been really rewarding.
What is your favorite thing to do in your free time, when you’re not working or volunteering for ASCE and other organizations?
I enjoy running and playing tennis, especially when I get to do it with my family. I recently ran my 20th Chicago Marathon this past October. These marathons keep getting harder every year, not sure if the course is getting longer or I’m just getting older and slower. I am also an assistant Tennis Coach at Lane Tech High School, which has been really rewarding and quite a learning experience. No better way to find out how the next generation is going to operate than immerse yourself in an activity with them….and from what I can tell I think they will do just fine.
What is one piece of advice you would give to Student or Younger Members as they start their careers in civil engineering?
Never stop listening and learning. We will all have a lot of successes and failures in our careers. You can learn a lot from both if you keep your ears and mind open.
Darren is a Vice President and Assistant Department Head of the Water Resources Department at Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd. (CBBEL) where he has worked for the past 23 years. Prior to that, he worked at the U.S. Geological Survey in Champaign, IL. He has a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Masters of Business Administration from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. He currently lives with his family (Amy, Alessia, Bruno) in the Roscoe Village neighborhood of Chicago, where his kids go to Lane Tech High School. This past summer they had the pleasure of hosting a foreign exchange student from Italy (Federico).
If you know someone from within the Illinois Section that you feel is deserving of the spotlight, please send any suggestions to Tom Borges, Membership Chair, at email@example.com.