Benoit '93 Recognized Nationally for Civil Engineer Advocacy
Darren Benoit’s professional passion for advocacy was born from the need for a voice to stress the importance of infrastructure investment to safety, economic development and transportation.
A 1993 graduate of UNH’s civil engineer department, Benoit saw his passion recognized nationally when he was selected as the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Outstanding Civil Engineer Advocate of the Year Award winner. The inaugural award is given to recognize the strides made while engaging with members of the U.S. Congress and state legislators on ASCE’s Priority Issues.
Benoit, who is currently the head of the highway group for McFarland Johnson, Inc. in Concord, said he was humbled to receive the inaugural award in front of his colleagues and that it was a reflection of years’ worth of work toward a goal.
“Receiving this award is a recognition of many hours by myself and others in New Hampshire,” said Benoit, who also earned a Master’s in Public Administration from UNH in 1997. “Our work advocating for investment in our state and federal infrastructure has been very important.”
The need for advocacy was one that found Benoit, who has testified multiple times before the New Hampshire State Legislature. He noted there was a time that civil engineers could focus on their craft, but as the political landscape has changed and funding for infrastructure has decreased in terms of percentage of GDP, there became a need for an advocacy base.
Benoit’s journey into advocacy was more than an attempt to promote the civil engineering community. He also saw it as an opportunity to best serve the public, specifically to improve the quality of life for New Hampshire residents. Benoit said that being a resource to lawmakers ensures legislators consider how their decisions will impact infrastructure, the environment and by extension the economy.
“As civil engineers, we are constantly thinking about the public’s safety and welfare,” he said. “Civil engineering and public service are closely connected due to the work we do.”
In 2011, Benoit led the New Hampshire Section of ASCE in its release of the Report Card for New Hampshire’s Infrastructure and will serve as the co-chair of the 2016 New Hampshire Infrastructure Report Card update committee. Benoit’s favorite part of his work is educating the next generation on the importance of investing in infrastructure and building relationships with their state and federal representatives.
A proud UNH alum, Benoit remains involved with the university through participation in the Civil Engineering Alumni Conference, requested speaking engagements and serving as a judge at the ASCE Northeast Regional Concrete Canoe Competition.
He advises current UNH students to obtain as much real life experience they can through internships, student organizations, competitions and outreach programs in order to create a positive path for career success.
Written By Brooks Payette, Communications/Outreach Coordinator
College of Engineering and Physical Sciences
Photo provided by ASCE's David Hathcox