Eagan engineer is named among the best
by Jessica Harper
Few think of the man behind the design of Eagan’s city streets when driving to work. But late last month, the hard work and dedication of that man, Russ Matthys, was recognized by his peers.
Matthys, who is Eagan’s city engineer, was named Engineer of the Year on Jan. 25 by the City Engineers Association of Minnesota.
“It’s a nice surprise,” Matthys said, “but I think it is as much a recognition of the engineering team, city staff and council that I have worked with here in Eagan as it is of me.”
A member of CEAM since 1990, Matthys has worked for three Minnesota cities, two civil engineering firms and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works.
Matthys said he believes his greatest accomplishment while working for Eagan for nearly 15 years, was his work evaluating and implementing more than $8 million worth of storm system upgrades following the July 2000 super storm.
Working with residents to acquire easements after the flood was challenging at times but always rewarding, he said.
In addition to restoring systems after the flood, Matthys has been lead engineer for interagency road projects (Highway 149 and the County Road 30 roundabout), as well as constructing two local bridges and overseeing 143 miles worth of street improvements. Matthys also helped form and supervises an internal multi-department team that has formulated and implemented a leading storm water pollution prevention plan.
Matthys said he had the most fun, though, with Eagan’s “ring road.”
The “ring road” was built to ease congestion around Eagan’s busiest intersection: Yankee Doodle and Pilot Knob roads. The loop includes Denmark Avenue to the east, Northwood Parkway and Central Parkway to the north, Federal Drive to the west, and Duckwood Drive and its overpass to the south.
“I’ve been hearing a lot of positive feedback,” he said. “I like doing stuff that helps a person live a more enjoyable life. … That’s what makes my job a success.”
Matthys has always maintained a good rapport with the community, Public Works Director Tom Colbert said.
“He takes whatever time is necessary to work with individuals,” he said. “He always earns their trust, which is extremely important when serving the city.”
When he’s not working on the city’s infrastructure, Matthys mentors area students.
This past year, he assisted a team of Black Hawk Middle School students in an engineering competition called Future City. The students were required to design a city 150 years in the future, while incorporating energy efficient systems.
The team went on to win first place in the statewide competition and will head to Washington, D.C., Feb. 21 to compete in the national tournament.
This was Matthys’ fifth time working with Black Hawk students in the past 12 years, an experience Matthys said he always finds rewarding.
It’s also a way to grow the field in a time when few young people pursue engineering, Matthys said.
“I see a need for future engineers,” he said. “If people don’t know or understand what we do, there will be little interest in the field.”
In addition to working with students in the contest, Matthys has served as a Future City’s judge.
He also mentors graduate students and interns, and visits career fairs to generate interest in the field.
Matthys lives in Apple Valley with his wife, Missy, and their children: Lissa, 7, and Isaac, 5.