CCEE Hall of Fame

Innovative and visionary leadership in improving public health and infrastructure, advancing wastewater treatment systems internationally, and establishing a national firm

Inducted 2021

Joel Cerwick’s 40-year career at Burns and McDonnell as an innovative and visionary leader started with a bachelor’s in civil engineering from Iowa State in 1966. He went on to earn his master’s in civil engineering from Iowa State in 1968. Early on, Cerwick established a reputation for developing creative engineering solutions to complex problems.

Cerwick is an expert on water and sewage projects and works with community and industry leaders to provide essential services to communities around the world. His most notable projects include designing a novel secondary wastewater treatment process called “Burns and McDonnell Treatment System.” The National Society of Professional Engineers selected his design as one of the best engineering achievements of that year. His system was applied in Monterrey, Mexico, and was recognized with an Engineering Excellence Award by ACEC for its positive impact on public health. In addition, Cerwick was a key player in expanding Burns and McDonnell outside of Kansas City; he led the first office in the expansion and continued to push. They now have over 55 offices worldwide. He was instrumental in forming the firm’s first environmental division.

After retiring in 2008, Cerwick remains active in his commitment to help communities and citizens with basic needs like food, water and care. For example, the University of Kansas City Hospital expansion was successful, thanks to Cerwick.

He is an active alumnus of Iowa State. Cerwick established “Cerwick Medallion-Funds,” an annual grant for the CCEE department. Cerwick received the Anson Marston Medal for his professional achievement in engineering in 2016.