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Wausau, Wis., native receives engineering award

Published April 15, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, employee and Wausau, Wis., native, Kurt Heckendorf, was recently selected by the Minnesota Geotechnical Society as its Young Engineer of the Year for 2013. 

Heckendorf, who holds a Master of Science degree in civil engineering from Virginia Tech of Blacksburg, Va., was recognized for his work in the district’s geotechnical design and construction program. His work, in which he deals with soils and subsurface geology, was key to the completion of the Devils Lake, N.D., flood risk reduction project and the emergency repairs made to Rapidan Dam in Mankato, Minn., in 2002. He has also been a valued member of several additional projects and studies, to include the Fargo, N.D./Moorhead, Minn., Metropolitan area flood risk management study.

Heckendorf’s work can be seen far beyond the St. Paul District’s boundaries, though. Heckendorf volunteered to deploy to Iraq in 2003 and 2004, where he was a member of early reconstruction efforts and often worked in hostile conditions. In 2012, he deployed to Brazil for six months, where his geotechnical expertise was used on navigation and stream bank protect projects. 

“Kurt [Heckendorf] is all about turning opportunities into accomplishments,” said David Rydeen, chief of the geotechnical engineering branch of the St. Paul District and Heckendorf’s supervisor. “When the Corps recruits college graduates, we promise that there are opportunities all over the world for them to take, if they are interested. Kurt listened.” 

The nearly 650 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, employees working at more than 40 sites in five upper-Midwest states serve the American public in the areas of environmental enhancement, navigation, flood damage reduction, water and wetlands regulation, recreation sites and disaster response. Through the Corps’ Fiscal Year 2011 $175 million budget, nearly 2,800 non-Corps jobs were added to the regional economy as well as $271 million to the national economy. For more information, see



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Release no. 14-014