Strategic Advisor Mike Giggey recently celebrated his 50th year in engineering and 45 years at Wright-Pierce. We sat down with Mike as he reflected on his career and shared with us how he and his colleagues have helped make lasting improvements in water quality.

The Beginning

When Mike started his career in the Fall of 1973, the federal Clean Water Act was only one year old. Polluted waterways had significant impacts on wildlife and the public’s ability to use ponds, rivers, and bays. These challenges inspired Mike to become an environmental engineer and make a difference. Over the course of the last five decades, Mike has been able to watch change happen right outside his office window on the Androscoggin River in Topsham, Maine:

“When I started my career, many of America’s waters were not fishable or swimmable. Indeed, the public was outraged when Ohio’s Cuyahoga River caught fire. In Maine and New Hampshire, our rivers were smelly eyesores. Our staff at Wright-Pierce was able to directly impact the health of these waterways by helping cities and towns build water treatment systems. Now, looking out the windows of our Wright-Pierce office, you can watch the eagles soar over the river, ducks feeding at the foot of the falls, and sturgeon breeching during spawning season. To have had a part in that restoration thrills me every day.”

Environmental Impact

Mike’s influence on the environment and Wright-Pierce’s success has been significant and has resulted in numerous project awards and many satisfied clients. He has managed many of the firm’s innovative environmental projects in the US, as well as led international projects in Norway, Australia, Romania, Kenya, and South Africa. Mike’s Yarmouth, Massachusetts, septage reclamation project won a national excellence award. Another award-winning project in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, was one of the first to use an innovative groundwater recharge technique. In recent years, Mike has been a leader in developing regional approaches for nutrient management to protect Cape Cod’s estuaries through his work for the Pleasant Bay Alliance. Given his passion for the written word, he has served as the editor of the NEWEA Journal, and he is a regular speaker at regional and national conferences.

Inspiring Others at Wright-Pierce

Mike’s impact on New England’s environment is clear when you see the area’s clean rivers, lakes, and bays. Less obvious is his significant influence at Wright-Pierce. In the early ’80s, Mike and several of his colleagues took on leadership roles in the firm and changed the company’s trajectory positively. Their refreshed focus on water and wastewater engineering has shaped the company into what it is today. However, when sitting with Mike, he didn’t dwell on his technical expertise. Instead, he discussed another primary focus: mentoring younger engineers at Wright-Pierce about sound engineering, public education, and outside-the-box thinking. Mike’s guidance empowers junior engineers to apply valuable lessons to their engineering designs and positions the company for future success.

We spoke with engineers from Wright-Pierce who have collaborated with Mike throughout the years, as well as with young engineers currently benefiting from his mentorship. In the early stages of Maine Wastewater Group Leader Chris Dwinal’s career, working with Mike left a lasting impression. He remembers Mike’s unmatched dedication to clients and how he consistently prioritized their needs and proactively anticipated and addressed them. Senior Project Manager and Technical Leader Jeff Pinnette commented that Mike doesn’t just put a focus on sound engineering but on communications and public education. Project Engineer Maeve Carlson, who has had the opportunity to work with Mike in recent years, said, “He took me to a public meeting for the Pleasant Bay Alliance—you could tell everyone turned to him for sage advice and guidance on nutrient control measures on Cape Cod. It was inspiring.” An award on Mike’s office wall says it all: “consummate teacher, quiet leader, patient professional.”

A lifetime of dedication to a craft is rare and inspiring. On behalf of all of us at Wright-Pierce, we want to thank Mike for the profound impact he has had on our company and congratulate him for this huge milestone of 50 years of service to the engineering community and our environment.