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Age is but a number to this engineer

March 5, 2024 · Accolades, People

Gene Stacey, Professional Engineer - Age 64

Civil engineer Gene Stacey is the definition of perseverance. While others may be considering retirement, Gene has been studying for hours on end to gain his Professional Engineer (PE) license at the age of 64. The studying finally paid off in February 2024 as Gene received news that he passed the exam and is now able to add that ‘comma PE’ behind his name.

“I enjoy solving problems, and that’s what we do as civil engineers. I think that’s what I enjoy the most,” he said. “So, with the PE, it was something I was going to keep doing and keep doing until I got it. It was a big achievement. I was almost in tears.”

Professionally, Gene’s experience had started to outweigh having his PE license, having more than 30 years of experience under his belt. Personally, however, it was a goal of Gene’s that he was not going to let go, no matter what it took.

The journey wasn’t easy. In fact, the hardest part, according to Gene, was just sticking to it. His prep included waking up at 3 a.m. and studying until he had to go to work. Gene estimates that he reviewed 300 to 400 problems during the months he studied.

“I would get up, sit down at the computer, and just start doing problems and listening to videos,” he said. “Trudging through that day after day after day was the hardest part. There was a point, three to four weeks before the test, I stopped from burn out. About a week out, I started again. I could have easily given up.”

Gene’s perseverance has been a common denominator throughout his life, extending well beyond his commitment to earning his PE.  After high school, Gene went straight into the workforce, which then led him to serve four years in the military. Afterward, he migrated to selling mining and construction tires. However, he knew this wasn’t what he wanted to do his whole life.

At age of 28, he decided he wanted to pursue a career as a civil engineer, despite not truly knowing what that would entail. Gene was accepted into Northern Arizona University, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering.  

The number of projects Gene has worked on is limitless. His career has led him all over the world, literally, having worked in multiple states and even internationally in Australia. He had a hand in the Macintosh Island Bridge in Australia – a national and international award-winning project. He also led projects that include the Chevron Island Green Bridge and Walking Trail, Big Sky Subdivision, Mobile County Recycling Center, University of South Alabama’s MS4 Phase ll program and more. And for Gene, they are all of equal importance.

“I’ve enjoyed all of my projects. They’ve all had some kind of ‘wow’ factor for me,” he said. “Every stage of my career has had a different season, like the seasons of life. As the years have gone on, the projects I’ve been involved with have had their own enjoyment aspect to them. I’ve realized these all are things I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of.”

So, what’s next for Gene? As the leader of a team of young engineers, he wants to be able to encourage and mentor them along the way. He says this industry leaves people with a lot of options to pursue, and he challenges his staff to find their niche within civil engineering. It’s all about getting young staffers excited about the field, finding their space and helping them grow.

“As in life, just press on,” he said. “Whatever you’re trying to pursue, whatever goals you have, whatever is driving you to make a decision in civil engineering, don’t give up. There are going to be good days and bad days. That’s in your professional and personal life. If you just keep moving forward, you’ll get to the good times. It’s too easy to quit and not stick with it, so to the younger engineers, all I can say is to press on whether that’s one step at a time or just half a step at a time.”

Gene’s steps have turned into strides, and he doesn’t see himself slowing down any time soon. As shown by his new PE license, he’s just getting started.