Call it a classic case of local boy does good.
Earlier this month, Millsboro resident Jason Hastings was named Delaware Engineering Society’s 2012 Young Engineer of the Year.
Hastings, an engineer with the Delaware Department of Transportation, was nominated, unbeknownst to him, by his co-workers; winning, was a pleasant surprise, he said.
“It’s certainly means a lot. I certainly appreciate the honor. I’ve been working for over 10 years now. We have a fun industry, but at the same time, it’s hard work. It’s nice to be recognized, especially by your peers and your colleagues,” he said.
Hastings, 33, may have been destined to go into engineering; his father was an architect and he said he has always been interested in building things.
“I was always interested in construction, building buildings and bridges and that sort of thing, playing with the Tinkertoys and the Lincoln Logs as a kid. During high school I was good at math, and it kind of pushed me in the direction of engineering.”
“To be honest, I didn’t know a whole lot about the field going in, but the aspects I knew about I was interested in. Civil engineer was the one that was most appealing,” Hastings said.
Growing up in Millsboro, Hastings attended Sussex Central High School in Georgetown. He graduated in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in engineering from University of Delaware and then stayed to get his master’s.
“I liked college so much I stayed around for another year,” Hastings joked.
He is now in his second stint at DelDOT; Hastings’ first job after college was with the department. After a leaving for the private sector for a few years, Hastings came back. He has worked for DelDOT for more than 7 years. Hastings is married with two daughters, Lilly, 5, and Maya, 3.
Hastings’ work has mainly been in bridge design. His current position is as a team manager, overseeing a group of engineers that designs bridges. Hastings credited his team with helping him win the Young Engineer of the Year award.
“An award like that is really a team award. It’s not like I just do all this stuff. That award is really for everybody,” he said.
Before being elevated to a management role, Hastings was a designer himself. He said his most complex project was the Wooddale Covered Bridge near Wilmington.
“It was a historic, wooden, timber covered bridge that had washed out in a storm. So we were putting back a new covered bridge, which really isn’t a modern design," Hastings said. "So I had to do some research on that. It was a really tight working area because the roadway up there was only 16 feet wide, and we were trying to widen it out to at least get to today’s standards."
Hastings’ team also helps design highway overpasses, such as the overpasses at Route 202 and Interstate 95 in Wilmington.
“From our aspect, we work with the highway engineers who lay out the roadway alignment and do all the roadway geometry, stormwater management and all that stuff. In our section we focus strictly on the bridges and structures. We work back and forth. There’s quite a lot of engineering that goes into an interchange, particularly a bridge structure,” Hastings said.
Most of his major projects have been in New Castle County; Hastings said he’s worked mostly on smaller projects in Sussex County.
As for what he likes about the job, Hastings said, “Everyday is different. Everyday is a new day. We’re always learning. It’s pretty neat to go in the office and not really know what you may be faced with, but know it’s going to be a fun challenge to try and solve. It’s a lot of fun.”