His UML degree opened the door to a career that has brought both challenges and satisfaction
By By Marlon Pitter
In the hunt for his first job after getting his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, Wayne Jalbert ’85 knew he did not want a desk job.
He interviewed for a civil engineering position with Hancock Associates, a surveying and civil engineering firm serving communities in northeastern Massachusetts. However, Jalbert’s mind was set on land surveying, so after the interview, he wrote to the hiring manager to express his interest in a surveying job.
“Thank you for the interview as a civil engineer,” he recalls writing. “While I’m young and I love the outdoors, I’d like to pursue land surveying.”
Months later, Jalbert received a phone call from Hancock Associates informing him of a land surveying position. He got the job and never looked back.
“I couldn’t believe what I was making at the time,” says Jalbert. “I took the job for $7 an hour, and lo and behold, I’ve been at this company ever since.”
In the 36 years since he joined the firm, Jalbert has gotten his hands dirty in a plethora of construction projects. As a professional land surveyor, he has been involved at the outset for many new buildings and renovations around New England.
Over the years, Hancock has grown, expanding its reach in Massachusetts and into Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire.
Throughout that growth, Jalbert’s career has advanced. He is now the company’s president and survey division manager. In that role, he leads a team of surveyors and engineers, primarily in providing development design for new construction of “structures of all different types.”
Looking back on his time at UMass Lowell, Jalbert credits Herman J. Shea and Don Leitch as influential professors. He says the variety of coursework in electrical and mechanical engineering, computer science and other classes prepared him well for the construction industry.
His degree opened the door to a career that has brought both challenges and satisfaction. There is no instant gratification in the construction industry—projects can take months, if not years—but it is satisfying to see them go from start to finish, Jalbert says.
Over the years, Jalbert has worked on renovations at all of his alma maters—his elementary school, high school and college—and names UML’s University Crossing as one of his favorite projects.
“What’s most rewarding is being able to see the fruits of our labor,” he says. “We’re one of the professions that sees every project through from the dream in our client’s head.”
Two of the most important things Jalbert has built while climbing the corporate ladder may be Hancock’s size and legacy. Since becoming president of the company in 2016, he has doubled the size of the business through hiring and acquisitions.
“My focus has been to slowly grow the company,” he says. “Slow growth seems to be the way to go in this industry. I’m perpetuating that. It’s going really well, so we’ll be here for a while.”
Over the years, Jalbert has worked with Frank Hancock, the founder and namesake of the company, as well as co-founder Don Desmond. As he looks to the future and plans for his own eventual retirement, he feels comfortable with the direction of the company.
“I have people who will eventually buy me out and will perpetuate the business, keeping Frank Hancock’s name on [it],” he says. “It’s sort of the mantle I hold, to perpetuate the business beyond me.”
“We have a robust co-op program with UMass Lowell, and I am continually blown away by the quality of our co-op students.” -Wayne JalbertJalbert continues to maintain strong ties with UMass Lowell. He serves on the Civil and Environmental Engineering Industrial Advisory Board and sees his role as helping to ensure the university continues to prepare students with the skills they need for the workforce, just as it did for him.
“My focus in being on the advisory board is to make sure they maintain geomatics and AutoCAD as part of the core curriculum,” he says. “It was so important to me, and it’s so important to the engineering industry. Civil engineers can’t function without surveyors doing geomatics and using AutoCAD software.”
Additionally, when Jalbert meets UMass Lowell students working for Hancock Associates during their professional co-ops, where students apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to real-world engineering environments, he remains impressed year after year.
“We have a robust co-op program with UMass Lowell, and I am continually blown away by the quality of our co-op students,” he says. “I wish I could hire more.”
Looking back on his education and his career, Jalbert has no regrets with the decisions he has made.
“I owe my career to UMass Lowell,” he says. “I picked the right school, and I would not have changed a thing.”