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Devin Welch, EIT
April 6, 2023

Geological engineering degree sparks rewarding career for Devin Welch

Written By: Stephanies Vang|Amanda Thuss

“The Earth is your office” is more than a catchy phrase coined by Jim Tinjum, director of our geological engineering (GLE) program. For Badger alumni Devin Welch, it’s reality. His work is not confined to a physical office space. It extends to the vast and diverse landscapes that make up our planet.

As a geotechnical engineer at Westwood Professional Services, Devin spends a lot of his time traveling across the country. He’s conducted geotechnical investigations in almost every state in America, with projects spanning from east coast to west coast.

Through his work, Devin contributes to a better, cleaner future, while also experiencing the beauty of different regions, including some of his most memorable states like Washington, California, Pennsylvania, and Arizona. For Devin, the earth truly is his office, and he embraces this reality with passion.

Devin began working at Westwood as a geotechnical intern in the summer of 2019 and has been working as an engineer full-time since graduating from UW-Madison in May 2021. He recalls his first month at Westwood as an “immersive, exciting, hands-on experience in the geotech industry.”

Aided by a crew of geotechnical drillers, Devin was tasked with conducting and assisting in a large-scale geotechnical investigation near Amarillo, Texas, for a 700-800 MW solar energy project, which was one of the largest solar projects Westwood had worked on at the time.

Devin and his team conducting a geotechnical investigation in Texas for a solar energy project.

While on geotechnical investigations, Devin leads a team in drilling soil borings and collecting soil samples for classification and lab testing. Occasionally, he conducts field tests, like electrical resistivity testing and dynamic cone penetration testing, as well. He also helps ensure safe drilling conditions and access to each boring, all while minimizing damage to the surrounding area.

“It’s extremely rewarding to wake up and know that the technologies and infrastructure I aid in developing will be sustainable and continue to provide renewable energy to the world,” says Welch. “Pursuing a career as a geological engineer has given me the platform and outlet to act on my passions and teach people how they can and should respect the Earth.”

Devin’s interest in Earth sciences began at an early age and later sparked his interest in the field of geological engineering. He credits his experience at UW-Madison for giving him the tools to succeed as an aspiring engineer, while also deepening his appreciation for the natural world around him.

“I am very thankful for the opportunities I was given at UW-Madison and the wonderful faculty I was able to network with who helped me find the perfect career path. The Earth tends to look more beautiful through the lens of a geological engineer.”

A young professional with big aspirations, Devin is pursuing his PE license and plans to get a master’s degree as well. He also hopes to establish more youth STEM programs in his hometown of Boston, Massachusetts, and communities like it to inspire young students to explore the field of engineering.

“There was always a lack of representation in the STEM field growing up, especially for people of color,” he explains. “In my childhood, I never knew any Black engineers, but through the summer programs and youth programs I participated in, I was empowered by meeting other kids with the same ambitions and dreams as me. I’d like to continue to provide that opportunity to other young engineers and dreamers.”