Meet David Hein: Profile of a TAC Volunteer

Monday, February 14, 2022

This article is part of a series profiling some of TAC’s volunteers. Learn more about TAC’s volunteer structure, the role of volunteers and the benefits of volunteering.

Introducing David Hein – a TAC volunteer and consulting engineer who has worked on major transportation engineering projects around the world.

TAC: Tell us about yourself!

DH: I am one of three brothers who graduated in Civil Engineering from the University of Waterloo. My roommate at Waterloo was a voracious reader and set a goal for himself of reading one million pages of novels. While he reached his goal some 10 years ago, I am still struggling having recently passed 660,000 pages read (1,708 books).

I love the outdoors and am an avid bicyclist, hiker, and tent camper.

I was born to travel having caught the bug from my parents and am happy to say that I have passed it on to my children as well. At last count, I have visited 61 countries, all the Canadian Provinces and U.S. states, and have flown in or out of 213 airports around the world.

TAC: What led you to a career in the transportation sector?

DH: I needed a job when I graduated and was planning a career in structural engineering and building science. However, my resume was hijacked, and I was offered a job with a firm that was just starting a pavement engineering group. I was hooked on what, at the time, was a relatively small field and I had some very convincing mentors who guided me along.

I soon realized that transportation touches everyone and that I could make a difference for a lot of people.

I have always been a consulting engineer and recently stepped down as the Transportation Division Manager of a large consulting firm with offices in Canada and the United States. Currently, I am a semi-retired independent consultant, but my wife says that I should not use the words “semi” and “retired” in the same sentence.

TAC: What professional achievement are you most proud of? 

DH: I have been fortunate to have worked on numerous major transportation engineering projects around the world. This has included pavements for everything from bicycles to transport trucks, aircraft, and military tanks, and in 2018 I participated in the pavement analysis completed for the movement of the heaviest load ever moved over an Alberta highway.

I am most proud of my teaching and education activities. I have taught hundreds of courses, workshops and webinars and there is nothing like seeing the look in their eyes when a student understands.

TAC: Tell us about your history as a TAC volunteer.

DH: My history as a TAC volunteer goes back to the very beginning of my career. I have been a long-term member of the TAC Pavements (past chair), Soils and Materials, and Asset Management committees as well as the Workforce Development Council. I have organized or participated in over 35 technical sessions at TAC’s fall meetings and have had 24 technical papers published by TAC. I am proud to be the recipient of the TAC 2017 Distinguished Service Award. I am most proud of my work with the Workforce Development Council in delivering programs for young transportation professionals and the up-and-coming generation of transportation professionals.

TAC: How has volunteering with TAC helped you?

DH: My participation as a volunteer with TAC has assisted in showcasing the passion, innovation, and collaboration of Canada’s transportation community across Canada and throughout the world. TAC brings our transportation community together and has enabled me to meet and make numerous friends and colleagues and have fun.

TAC: Tell us about a challenge that you would like to help solve.  

DH: Canada ranks seventh in the world in terms of road network size with a two-lane equivalent length of over one million kilometres. Canada ranks 37th in the world by population, with 38 million people to support this infrastructure. Transportation assets (i.e., roads, rail, airports, traffic control, transit, pipelines, ports, etc.) are generally the largest component of civil infrastructure. Maintaining our transportation assets represents a significant challenge and we all must work together to ensure that our network remains viable for our users.

TAC: What advice would you give someone just starting out in the transportation sector?

DH: In my experience, it is important to be open and honest in your dealings with your professional colleagues. Do not be scared to tell someone you do not know something. We learn from our mistakes, and it makes us better people. Most importantly, it is essential to have a job and profession that is fun.

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