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

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Mark Kretschmer

Senior Civil Engineer

Mark and his daughter during the Goliath Challenge
Family hiking trip at Banff National Park
The son of a metallurgical engineer, Mark Kretschmer always had an interest in math and science, but it wasn’t until he started college that he zeroed in on civil engineering.

“My original focus was on transportation engineering, and I interned at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation for four years,” said Mark. “My younger brother actually followed the same path and now works full time at the department.”

Mark went in a different direction. He eventually became a partner at a small residential and commercial development firm. The narrow focus became a concern when the market changed.

“Work was slowing down, so I decided that I needed to shift gears,” said Mark. “Someone at Barr told me about an open position. Being at Barr has been great and has introduced me to many different types of projects. I’ve developed a more rounded skill set.”

One of Mark’s first projects at Barr was the replacement of a 2.5-mile-long penstock that brings water to a hydropower facility in Michigan.

“I was responsible for determining the pipeline alignment, addressing erosion control, and assessing environmental impacts,” said Mark. “I hadn’t worked on dam or hydroelectric projects before so I learned a lot.”

These days, much of his work centers on projects related to flood control.

“I’ve been doing a lot of project management and civil engineering on levee upgrades as well as feasibility studies to address flooding,” said Mark.

Mark likes to keep busy outside of work, too. He currently serves as the race director for the Goliath Challenge, an annual 5K obstacle race.

“Directing a race like this is a lot like managing a civil engineering project or running a small business,” said Mark. “It’s been a great volunteer experience. The best part is that the money raised goes to feed starving kids.”

When he’s not organizing a race, he’s preparing to participate in one.

“Having something like a sprint, triathlon, or 5K to work toward helps keep me motivated to stay in shape,” said Mark.

But Mark isn’t all about work. With three young daughters, he appreciates downtime.

“We spend a lot of time outdoors in the summer,” said Mark. “Boating and just being on the river is a great way to disconnect from work. So is taking family hiking trips to the Black Hills, Yellowstone National Park, and Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada.”