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Alumnus shares experiences
Engineering, law good tandem degrees, Gallo says
After Don Gallo earned his bachelor’s in civil engineering from Tri-State College in 1974 and his master’s in environmental engineering from the University of Akron in 1977, he discovered a vast reservoir of professional opportunity in environmental engineering.
Engineer and attorney Don Gallo, right, who graduated from Tri-State College in 1974, visits with chemical engineering students Chason Ault, left, Matt Mills, and Megan Lentz in the office of Dr. Allen Hersel, chair of the McKetta Department of Chemical & Bioprocess Engineering on Feb. 19.
However, he could see that attorneys knew the law, but not the science, to gain approval for their clients’ building and development projects. “So I went to law school. It wasn’t easy, but what a professional niche it provides,” he told Trine University engineering students gathered on Feb. 19 in the office of Dr. Allen Hersel, chair of the McKetta Department of Chemical & Bioprocess Engineering.
The students, two with environmental engineering minors and two with senior projects in environmental design, listened intently as Gallo described some of the projects with which he has been involved and the environmental issues through which he has navigated as an attorney in the environmental department for Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren in Wisconsin.
"I love my job," he told the students. He works with engineers and specialists on projects ranging from waste field clean-ups to the establishment of new, energy-efficient businesses. “It’s a great field to go into,” he told them. “The new stimulus bill will create a boom in water and wastewater projects.”
To illustrate, he detailed a project which runs thermal wastewater from a plant through a fishery to raise tilapia, and then through a perch hatchery as the water cools, and finally routes the high nitrogen waste water through an urban greenhouse to produce foods in high demand by chefs. “This is already open on three acres in Milwaukee. This was wasted energy,” he told the students.
Other issues center on water conservation. “We have the Great Lakes in the Midwest, and grapple with how we can better manage it,” he said. “There’s a 15-foot annual lowering of the ground water, but in Waukesha we have conserved 40 percent of the water use. These are some of the things we’re working on.”
Students eagerly quizzed Gallo on subjects ranging from the process of validating a site clean-up to creating zero-discharge ethanol.
Gallo said his engineering education prepared him well for his professional success. “I had a fabulous foundation here. The world is your oyster,” he told the students.
He advised securing an engineering position and building experience before making a move to the law. “I wouldn’t go straight to law school. I’d practice engineering 5-10 years. I graduated from here, went to work and then took night classes at Akron for environmental and chemical engineering. I worked 14 years, then went to law school and worked half-time at the engineering firm.”
The hard work opened the ability to operate on dual fronts. “I’m doing engineering projects, but I have to be a lawyer to make it work,” he said.