Several months prior to graduating from CUA, Justin Smith, B.C.E. 2002, learned of an intern position with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as a result of walking through a CUA career fair at just the right time. Upon acceptance into the program, Justin jumped into the commission’s developing Geographic Information System technology. Immediately following graduation, the four-year commuter student parlayed his internship into a full-time role at the FERC’s San Francisco Regional Office in the Division of Dam Safety and Inspections.
Inspecting hydroelectric dams took Justin all across the West Coast. In his travels, he found himself in places like the inside of generating units, atop several 100-foot-tall structures on windy days, and on the occasional helicopter or tram ride when hiking or driving wasn’t an option. Although there wasn’t a "Dam Inspection 101" course offered at CUA, Justin says that his CUA education "prepared me well to tackle the professional world through the faculty’s first-hand civil engineering knowledge and industry approach to preparation." His experience in the concrete canoe program was also a plus when it came to the structures and materials aspects of dam construction.
After his two-and-a-half year adventure out west, Justin returned to the FERC Headquarters in Washington, D.C., to continue his career in dam safety and also assist in the security oversight at hydroelectric projects. Today, Justin is involved in ensuring national consistency of FERC’s dam safety and security program, supporting the leadership and management of the FERC dam infrastructure security program in analyzing risk assessment data and managing security incidents, and participating in federal collaborative efforts on security incident information sharing. In addition to the in-town meetings with federal dam safety partners, Justin still conducts dam safety and security inspections and is currently involved in the design review of a submersible powerhouse at an Army Corps of Engineers lock-and-dam system.
Outside of the dam business, Justin continues his college days' career of driving a zamboni at one of the local ice rinks and looking for new dams in the area to visit with his girlfriend, Lynn, and dog Matilda.