August 2022 Centennial Engineer of the Month

August 2022 – Mike Bumbaco, PE, M. ASCE

Mike Bumbaco has 40 years civil engineering experience, including stormwater engineering, site design, highway engineering, environmental permitting, cost estimating, specification writing, utility adjustment coordination, construction administration, quality control reviews and project management.  Mr. Bumbaco’s stormwater management design experience includes bioretention basins, open detention/retention facilities, in-pipe detention/water quality systems, in-stream weir structures, low-rise dams, infiltration systems, and manufactured structures. Mike’s most recent position was with the City of Virginia Beach as a Senior Project Manager for the Preliminary Engineering, Design, and Construction of Stormwater Capital Improvement Projects. He managed over $400 million of stormwater improvements, including street drainage systems, tide gates, storage facilities, and pump stations.

Prior to working for the City of Virginia Beach, Mike Bumbaco worked for private consulting firms, managing highway and site development projects. Clients included local government, state, and federal agencies, and private owners and developers. Mike also worked for an environmental consulting firm for two years, where he became very familiar with environmental documents, permitting, and stream and wetland restoration.

Mike holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology and has taken 48 credit hours of Graduate Studies in Environmental Science at Rutgers University.

Mike resides in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with his wife Holly. They are the proud parents of two adult children, Kenny and Amy. Mike is active with his church and ASCE. During his free time, Mike loves to cook and travel with his family.

Centennial EOM Questionnaire

Question 1. What do you consider your major achievements in civil engineering in our Section area?

Somewhere along the way I became very good at adsorbing codes, design manuals, specifications, standards, and other engineering guidelines. I was proud to perform thorough engineering reviews of civil engineering and multi-disciplinary documents. I didn’t realize until recently that the review meetings I held with the engineers who prepared the design and construction documents were actually mentoring sessions. Someone mentioned to me a couple of weeks ago that he appreciated the mentoring I provided to him early in his Civil Engineering career. He asked me if I knew how many people I mentored during my 40 years of Civil Engineering. I estimate that I started to mentor other engineers when I became a Project Manager. That was about 8 years into my Civil Engineering career. Therefore, I would consider mentoring other Civil Engineers my major achievement. I am Engineer-of-Record for several projects around the Commonwealth of Virginia and do mention that when a project comes up in conversation, but I consider mentoring to trump all of those projects as my major achievement.

Question 2. Why did you decide on a career in civil engineering?

My dad worked on heavy construction equipment when I was young. I had the opportunity to see site and roadway construction from the ground up. I enjoyed all of my Civil Engineering courses in college, but especially enjoyed concrete and steel structures because they involved  mathematics. However, because of a heavy emphasis regarding environmental issues during the 1970’s, I decided to pursue Environmental Science in graduate school. My second job was with an Environmental Engineering firm, writing Infiltration/Inflow-Sewer System Evaluation Reports for a large sewer authority. The firm also had a Municipal Engineering division. After a couple of years of writing reports, I switched to Municipal Engineering. I liked that a little better, because I got to see what was being designed and constructed. Then I tried highway engineering, which I thoroughly enjoyed, because I could apply a ton of design standards, create a set of construction documents, and see the project built.

Question 3. Provide some career guidance for young civil engineers.

  1. Seek out a mentor or at least people you consider to be role models. There is a lot to learn from other people that you work with. ASCE has several opportunities to meet your peers and discuss Civil Engineering.
  2. Work at becoming more proficient in communicating via oral presentations and writing. If you have difficulty communicating with other people, they might not understand you, misunderstand what you are saying, or even disregard you altogether.
  3. Someone asked me a couple of days ago- Should I pursue my MBA or a graduate Engineering degree? My short answer was: “If you like working with people, I suggest the MBA, but if you enjoy working on technical problems, I suggest graduate Engineering studies.” That may have been too simple an answer, but not everyone is cut out to be a business development specialist/project manager. There are several different career paths available. Several resources are available that help a person decide their career path.
  4. Most important to me is the I enjoy my work and the people I am working with.

Question 4. What do you consider the major challenge to a career in civil engineering?

Starting with the decision to become a civil engineer, there are many challenges to continuing a career in civil engineering. The ASCE purpose, mission, and vision have helped me stay on track. I am one of many engineers making a difference in society, protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the general public, and building a better quality of life. With so many different career opportunities available, I found it difficult to stay on one track earlier in my career. Most employers realize young people are trying to determine their career path, but, after about 8 to 10 years, you should settle on what you would like to do for the rest of your working life. As I mentioned earlier, several resources are available that help a person decide their career path. The book titled “What Color is Your Parachute” was always helpful to me. Of course, is very helpful.

Question 5. Tell us about your volunteer activities. What is the motivating factor for volunteering? How has being a volunteer enriched your professional career?

I volunteer for both my church and ASCE. Church volunteering is obligatory and sometimes not fun. Every so often, I need to remind co-volunteers that we all are volunteering for the same reason. My beliefs, a steel exterior (due to management and sensitivity training), and a large heart help me get through tough times.

Volunteering for ASCE is much more enjoyable. Through involvement and networking, I have a lot of friends and know a lot of people. Being on the Awards Committee gave me a lot of satisfaction when I helped recognize others for their accomplishments. Being involved with K-12 Outreach allowed me to provide encouragement to children who were eager to learn more about STEM. Organizing luncheons and other group events helped bring together the engineering community and enrich others with engineering knowledge. Participating in ASCE Nationals’ events is always enjoyable.