Sam H. Wainwright

Distinguished Service to the Engineering Profession

Inducted in 2000

More genuine and generous devotion to the engineering profession than that demonstrated by Sam H. Wainwright is unlikely to be found. Sam, as he is known to his friends, began his career as an interstate highway location engineer after his graduation from Auburn University in 1957. In 1960, the Birmingham native, who is a registered PE in 12 states and a registered PLS in seven, helped to establish an engineering firm in Dothan, Alabama, that was to become Wainwright Engineering Company (WENCO Inc.). At its peak, WENCO Inc. had 75 employees with branches in Montgomery and Birmingham. For three decades, Mr. Wainwright and staff were responsible for critical infrastructure projects, roads, drainage, water, and wastewater projects in the Southeast and aviation and airport projects across the country.
In 1989, Barge, Waggoner, Sumner & Cannon Inc purchased the firm. For another decade Mr. Wainwright served on its board of directors as senior consultant. His further experience includes a period as a founding director of Southland Foods Inc. until its sale to Continental Grain.

For most, these responsibilities would provide a full plate. For Sam, they were just a first course. In engineering-based public service, he has made something of a second career. For 15 years beginning in 1973, Mr. Wainwright served on the Alabama Board of Registration for Engineers and Land Surveyors, repeatedly taking on the responsibilities of the board chairmanship. He served as the board’s land surveyor representative, helping prepare and score surveying exams and acting as liaison to the Alabama Society of Professional Land Surveyors, a society in which he is a charter member. Currently he serves as an emeritus member of the state board.

Mr. Wainwright’s distinguished service with the Consulting Engineers Council of Alabama (CECA) dates to its beginning, and he served as its state president in 1973. In 1999, Sam was the first Alabamaian to become a CECA Fellow. He is a member of the National Society of Professional Engineers, American Society of Military Engineers, and a Fellow and life member in the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Also in 1973, Mr. Wainwright became a member of the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES), an affiliation he has retained for 27 years. He was elected vice-president, Southern Zone, and in 1984 became the national president of NCEES. Sam also served as a member of the NCEES board of directors for six years. It is safe to say that he has served in every possible capacity with NCEES, from preparing exams to drafting model laws. His untiring work was honored in 1982 with the NCEES National Distinguished Service Award and again in 1989 with the NCEES National Distinguished Service Award with Special Commendation.

In 1985, Mr. Wainwright began his work with the board of directors of ABET, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. He has served as treasurer of ABET for the past six years and was made a Fellow in the organization in 1997. For a decade, from Michigan State to Loyola Marymont, he acted as a civil engineering academic-program evaluator for ABET. Finally, Mr. Wainwright is a charter member of the board of the Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame and served as its first Chairman. In 1998 he was tapped to serve on the Alabama Environmental Management Commission.

In the community, Sam is a life long member of the presbyterian church, a 35–year member of Rotary, and for 55 years has been active in the Boy Scouts of America, earning its prestigious Distinguished Eagle Award. Sam is married to Kathleen Monroe Wainwright. They raised three sons who helped them acquire three wonderful daughters and five grandchildren.

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