This Civil Engineer Built a Brilliant Career: Meet Alum Joseph Fleming

Joseph Fleming was named an NCE Outstanding Alumni

The jobs that Joseph Fleming worked while a student in the 1970s were, to put it mildly, anything but pleasant.

"I had a kaleidoscope of horrific part-time jobs which included working with chemical plant batch reactors and cleaning industrial toilets at the Walter Kidde plant," quipped Fleming, who was recently named a Newark College of Engineering (NCE) Outstanding Alumnus.

NCE has always attracted industrious students who are not afraid of hard work, and Fleming was certainly one of them.  Born in Newark, he commuted to campus either on his Schwinn 10-speed bike or on the number 2 Ampere bus.  He was the first in his family to graduate from college: He earned a civil engineering degree from NCE in 1976.

Over the course of his life, Fleming’s strong work ethic, combined with his NCE education, helped him carve out a successful career. He is now executive vice president of Paulus, Sokolowski & Sartor (PS&S), a design and engineering firm that, according to Engineering News Records, is ranked one of the top in the nation.  He is responsible for the firm's land-based consulting engineering services. Those services include civil engineering, water resources and surveying as well as environmental planning, environmental remediation and landscape architecture.  He manages five PS&S regional offices, which consult on a wide spectrum of design and engineering projects.

One of Fleming's favorite projects was helping to plan and design Newark's New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC).  He participated in the development of the master plan for NJPAC's theater district and managed the on and offsite civil engineering elements. That work included structural and geo-technical disciplines as well as landscape architecture and environmental permitting.  PS&S promotes sustainable design, he says, and many of its projects have received environmental accreditation.

Fleming says he enjoys nearly all aspects of consulting engineering.  He especially likes the conceptual design phase of projects, when client’s goals and project attributes and constraints are integrated into a viable development solution.  He also likes working with local governments to secure building permits and approvals for clients.

"Guiding a project through the challenges of construction to the ribbon- cutting ceremony is a very satisfying experience," says Fleming. "And managing many design teams as a project progresses is simply the best reward of consultant life."

While a student at NCE, Fleming was blessed to have had many great professors who he says "brought zeal and infectious enthusiasm to their teaching."

He fondly remembers his days as the heavyweight member of the NCE Wrestling Team.  He also loved being a member of Tau Delta Phi.  As part of community service for that fraternity, he led a cerebral palsy Boy Scout Troop. "I received much more than I gave from that experience,” he says.

During his speech at the  NCE Salute to Engineering Excellence ceremony, when he was named an Outstanding Alumnus, Fleming gave thanks to his wife Mary Pat, without whom, he said, he might not have graduated from NCE.

"Just prior to graduation in 1976," Fleming recalled, "NCE sponsored a ceremony that honored the supporting spouses of that year's graduating class. Called the PHT Award, (Pushed Him Through), the ceremony recognized the extraordinary support necessary to help a working husband through the rigors of the NCE engineering curriculum.  Mary Pat was my constant support and encouragement; and without her support I would not be here today."

(By Robert Florida, Office of Strategic Communications)