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Meet MSA's Engineers: Joseph Elsinger, PE

Craig Fields | with 0 Comments

Meet MSA's Engineers: Joseph Elsinger, PE

MSA Professional Services is a multidisciplinary A/E/C consulting firm focused on improving communities in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and Iowa. Our staff is comprised of engineers, architects, planners, funding experts, surveyors, GIS specialists and environmental scientists.
Joe Elsinger, PE, is a Project Engineer at MSA's Cedar Rapids, Iowa location. A native of the river bluff town of Guttenberg, Iowa, Joe has six years of experience in civil engineering. Joe is passionate about Engineers Without Borders (EWB), an organization building a better world through engineering projects that empower communities to meet their basic human needs and equip leaders to solve the world’s most pressing challenges.
Joe is truly living MSA’s purpose of positively impacting the lives of others. Learn more about him through our brief Q&A:
What is your background?
I grew up on a farm in the hills of northeast Iowa, the third of four children. Let’s just say we grew up dirt-poor but rich in spirit. My upbringing taught me a lot – how to make things work instead of making excuses, how to enjoy the small pleasures and be frugal (one might argue that is a vanishing trait), why keeping an open mind is so important, how to spin an issue around and look at it from the other side and how to resist passing judgment quickly. I was the first in my family to graduate with a four-year undergraduate degree, and I have the student loans to prove it.
How did you become interested in MSA?
I graduated in the depths of the “great recession.” There were very few job opportunities. I was interested in seeking employment with MSA as it was a known regional leader in the consulting engineering field. I had a friend/mentor involved in Engineers Without Borders-USA who worked for MSA, and he referred me for my current position.
What are your responsibilities and main areas of expertise?
I am a civil engineer and project manager. I work on a wide array of projects – water and wastewater conveyance and treatment, storm-water conveyance and management, as well as small urban road redesigns. Many small municipalities need a consulting engineer partner who can wear many hats, and I enjoy the variety.
What sets MSA apart from others in the civil engineering industry? Why should someone work here?
MSA is a great place to work. MSA's purpose is enabling people to positively impact the lives of others. Having some experience with previous employers, it is refreshing for me to see the emphasis on employee satisfaction, unity and work-life balance. 
How did you become involved in Engineers Without Borders?
I first heard of EWB-USA in 2006 as a student at University of Wisconsin-Platteville. It was a new student organization, and I actually attended the very first meeting for the group. My parents instilled in me from a very young age the importance of being thankful for what you have and of serving others.
Slowly I became more and more involved in the group – vice president of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville student chapter in 2007, and then serving as president from 2008 until I graduated in 2009. We initiated our first international program in Ghana, West Africa, in 2007. I have gone on five implementation or assessment trips, each 2-4 weeks long.
The biggest project I was involved in was the design and construction of a 50-foot clear-span, reinforced-concrete pedestrian bridge in 2009, connecting a village with a primary school and railway station over a waterway that was formerly impassable in the rainy season. We built the bridge in two weeks.
Here’s a shot of the bridge from Google Earth.

I am still heavily involved in EWB, serving as a mentor for the University of Wisconsin-Platteville student chapter and on several national committees. I’ve presented at various EWB conferences on an annual basis. Observing students transform into competent young engineers and better global citizens is one of the most rewarding activities in my life.
How has MSA supported you in your EWB efforts?
MSA has consistently provided fundraising support to the University of Wisconsin-Platteville student chapter and allows me to take time away from work to attend conferences. University of Wisconsin-Platteville is one of MSA’s strongest feeder schools, so MSA’s support of EWB is just one of many examples of its on-campus efforts. MSA is an active participant in University of Wisconsin career fairs and philanthropic efforts on campus, and we have a number of team members involved in various foundations on-campus, including the University of Wisconsin-Platteville Alumni Foundation.

How has the industry changed since you started at MSA?
Everyone talks about the “good old days,” but things are much better since 2010. The economy is doing well and there is plenty of work out there to do. The good old days for me are right now.
What has been your biggest success since being with MSA?
I don’t think I have had one big success. I enjoy learning from each project and applying that to the next one.

 Are you searching for a company where you can blend your life and career goals? Check out MSA's Careers page to search for current opportunities or contact Craig Fields for more information.

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