Alumnus Steven Devine receives Outstanding Engineering Alumni Award

March 27, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Steven Devine, who received both his bachelor’s degree (1984) and master’s degree (1986) in civil engineering from Penn State, was recently named one of 12 recipients of the 2018 Outstanding Engineering Alumni Award.

The award, established in 1966, is the highest honor bestowed by the College of Engineering and recognizes graduates who have reached exceptional levels of professional achievement. 

Devine said he chose Penn State because of its reputation. Growing up in southeastern Pennsylvania, both the Penn State engineering program and the Penn State football program were quite well-known.

Civil engineering also came as a natural choice. Devine always had an interest in structures and was often building things as a child, including model airplanes and rockets. When deciding his major, Devine first looked at the aerospace program but ultimately chose civil engineering because it offered many courses in structural engineering, which was his real interest. 

Entering his senior year of college, Devine recognized that while the civil engineering undergraduate program taught basic fundamentals, it didn’t allow the ability to focus on a specialty. Since he ultimately wanted to specialize in structural engineering, Devine began looking for funding for graduate school.

Professor Emeritus Robert Barnoff told him assistantships were highly competitive, but Devine hoped persistence and good grades would work in his favor. His determination paid off.

“I got the assistantship,” he said. “I really thank Dr. Barnoff for believing in me and getting me that assistantship because it really made a difference in my life.”

Graduate school consisted of a combination of classwork, research and teaching. At one point, he even took several architectural appreciation courses to mix things up. The course opened Devine’s eyes to building structures as works of art and allowed him to better appreciate the important role structural engineers have in the building design process.

“I just came to marvel at the buildings,” he said. “They were beautiful, but it was the structural engineer who made these monuments possible. The architect can dream, but it takes the structural engineer to make the dream come true.”

The building design field was stagnant in 1986, so when Devine graduated, he applied to a broad range of engineering companies and accepted his first position at McDonnell Douglas Astronautics, a large aerospace manufacturing corporation and defense contractor in Huntington Beach, California, now part of Boeing. There, he worked as a stress analyst on the Delta rocket and upper stages for expendable launch vehicles, as well as the space shuttle. But after two years, his desire for building design led him away from the aerospace field.

Devine then worked as a structural engineer for Robert Englekirk Inc., a high-profile structural engineering firm in Los Angeles, and then for Paulus, Sokolowski and Sartor, a multi-disciplined engineering firm in central New Jersey, before landing at Bala Consulting near Philadelphia in 1992. The smaller company size allowed him to take on many roles and to become more involved in business development, an aspect he also enjoys. During his 15-year tenure, Devine rose to vice president and oversaw all of structural engineering for the firm.

In 2007, Cubellis, an international architecture and engineering firm headquartered in Boston, started pursuing Devine. He accepted the position of director of structural engineering, where he managed building projects throughout the U.S. and Dubai. He also obtained professional licensure in the United Arab Emirates.

Cubellis folded in 2009 during the collapse of the financial markets, and Devine, along with several of his colleagues, started Environetics Design Inc., an architectural, interior design and engineering firm in Philadelphia that grew from roughly 24 people to more than 65 in seven years.

In 2016, Environetics merged with NORR, an international architectural engineering firm based in Canada. Devine is currently a principal at NORR in the Philadelphia office, where he is involved with many aspects of the firm. The structural engineering team in Philadelphia also provides structural consulting services to architectural firms in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York City.

Devine has had many memorable projects throughout his career, including the Baseball Hall of Fame Library and Gallery expansion in Cooperstown, an addition that was extremely complicated as it connected the existing library to the gallery via a new link; 1200 Intrepid Avenue, an office building located in the Philadelphia Navy Yard that was designed by the world-famous architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group; and the Delaware Welcome Center, located in northern Delaware, which is seen and visited by millions of people each week, making it the most viewed building Devine has ever designed. Both 1200 Intrepid Avenue and the Delaware Welcome Center have won multiple awards for their designs.

With more than 30 years of diverse professional experience, Devine has a good understanding of what it takes to be successful in engineering. Perhaps most importantly, he emphasizes the importance of a graduate degree. Given the increased complexity and specialization of structural engineering, he feels that a graduate degree offers the ability to develop a deeper understanding and the proper fundamentals that are required today. But he also believes that the Penn State name alone can carry rising engineers far in their careers.

“Penn State offers an exceptional engineering education,” Devine said. “The Penn State name has opened doors for me my whole career.”

Devine is a licensed professional engineer in eight states and the UAE. He also is a board member of the Penn State CEE Alumni Society and runs the CEE Alumni Society Facebook page. He is a certified flight instructor for both planes and gliders. He is involved in the Civil Air Patrol and also enjoys skiing.

Devine resides in Haddonfield, New Jersey, with his wife, Kathy, and daughter, Christine.

The 12 Penn State engineering graduates will be honored at the annual Outstanding Engineering Alumni Awards ceremony on April 23 at the Nittany Lion Inn on the University Park campus.

  • Steven Devine headshot

    Alumnus Steven Devine was named one of 12 recipients of the 2018 Outstanding Engineering Alumni Award presented by the College of Engineering at Penn State.

    IMAGE: Penn State
  • photo of the 1200 Intrepid Avenue building

    1200 Intrepid Avenue, an office building located in the Philadelphia Navy Yard. 

    IMAGE: Bjarke Ingels Group
  • Delaware Welcome Center building

    Delaware Welcome Center, located in northern Delaware.

    IMAGE: Environetics Design Inc.
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Last Updated March 27, 2018