2001 Distinguished Service Award: Thomas Leonhardt

// Civil & Environmental Engineering

Tags: alumni, CEE E-Day, Engineers' Day, Thomas Leonhardt

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Thomas C. Leonhardt
President/CEO/Consulting Engineer (Retired)
Rust Environment & Infrastructure
MSCEE ’71

Thomas C. Leonhardt spent many of the early years of his career with his mind underground. When he joined Donohue and Associates, Inc., Sheboygan, Wisconsin, after receiving his civil engineering master’s degree from UW-Madison in 1971, he helped many Midwest communities and industries plan and design sewer systems and wastewater treatment facilities. He was instrumental in helping the first community in Wisconsin obtain federal and state funding for a comprehensive sewer system evaluation survey. Leonhardt also managed the Milwaukee MSD sewer study as part of its major wastewater pollution abatement program.

In the late 1970s, Leonhardt pioneered the use of computer-aided design at Donohue. The innovation not only improved the company’s design-process efficiency, but also enabled it to establish a separate business that provided geographic information systems (GIS) to telephone and electric utilities. Later, the firm developed GIS maps of military bases in the United States and Europe, and Leonhardt oversaw international work in Europe, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific. As vice president of operations, he expanded the company’s computer technology and spearheaded implementation of Total Quality Management. In 1990, he became the company’s president; in 1991 Donohue was acquired and became Rust Environment & Infrastructure. From then until his retirement in 1999, Leonhardt saw the Rust organization grow into an international consulting organization with a staff of nearly 5,000 in more than 80 offices.

The Sheboygan native earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from UW-Madison in 1962 and was commissioned in the Army Corps of Engineers, where he served two tours of duty in Vietnam before returning to complete his master’s degree. He was a member of the college’s Vision 2000 Committee and is a member of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s Visiting Committee.

Today he and his wife, Ginny, live in the Vail Valley of Colorado, where they enjoy outdoor activities and participate in local volunteer organizations.