employees, families and friends participate in Duluth’s dragon boat race each summer
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David Hibbs

Senior Civil Engineer

On the beach in Florida with his daughter
In the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of northern Minnesota

David Hibbs has a PhD in civil engineering and 25 years of experience working with municipal, industrial, and government clients. He’s also an academic researcher and lecturer in the areas of water resources and hydraulics.

It was clear from a young age that David Hibbs was destined to be an engineer. Or a repairman. Or maybe a garbage man.

Growing up in Indiana, he always liked fixing things in the garage with his dad. And he always looked forward to trash day, when he’d bike around the neighborhood looking for abandoned appliances and machines he could tinker with. “I’d actually harvest the motors from old washing machines,” he remembers.

That innate curiosity about how things work led him to nearby Purdue University, where he earned a degree in civil engineering. After working in California for a few years, David moved back to the Midwest to pursue his master’s degree at the University of Minnesota. From there, “well, it was all so fun, I just kept going,” he says matter-of-factly about his decision to pick up a PhD (also at the University of Minnesota).

Combining his academic research with two decades of real-world problem-solving, David has developed expertise in hydrologic and hydraulic modeling, water quality investigations, contaminant transport, and thermal modeling. He cites his work on the Fargo-Moorhead area flood diversion—for which he not only led the development of nearly 50 specialized flow models but also organized the training of a large team to meet a very tight timeline—as one of the highlights of his career.

David’s success with challenges like this doesn’t surprise his colleagues. “He’s very thoughtful, very competent, and very smart,” explains one of his coworkers. “And his slight tendency toward pessimism makes him an excellent project manager; he’s always aware of the many things that are liable to go wrong and takes care to avoid them.”

To relax, David enjoys biking, running, playing hockey, and sailing Lake Michigan with his family. In fact, if he weren’t an engineer, he says, he’d be operating his own sailing charter. And if that fell through, chances are—considering he loves putzing around the house fixing things—he could still make it as a repairman.