Stephen D. Hjelle, PE

Geotechnical Services Manager


Even in elementary school Steve knew he was going into the sciences. He would entertain his parent’s friends with science tricks and loved the space program. When it became evident that he excelled at math it seemed like engineering was a good career choice, even though no one could tell him what an engineer actually did.

He went into engineering physics at the University of Colorado, although admittedly he might have gone into architecture if the university hadn’t been so environmentally conscious as to name the architecture school “The College of Environmental Design”.

Steve worked construction in the summer to pay for school since his partial soccer scholarship barely paid for his expensive engineering books. One morning he was compacting base course at the Breckinridge Town Park and it was “hard as a rock”. The testing firm’s technician took density tests and failed the base course. Steve was incredulous, but his supervisor told him that he had already called for a retest in the afternoon. The supervisor told Steve there was no need to re-compact the base course, just lightly water the surface immediately before the testing technician comes back out, which Steve did and the retests passed. At that moment Steve thought to himself, “I can do better than that guy.”, and he decided to go into Geotechnical Engineering.

Steve met Roanoke Branch Manager Gary Bruce while they were judges at an engineering student competition hosted by Virginia Tech. This experience inspired Steve to write a short book, “The Science Fair”.

Steve is has worked in, and is currently registered in, Virginia, Florida and Colorado.