Making use of a background in science and technology on Capitol Hill
In September, University of Missouri College of Engineering Dean Jim Thompson and Director of Development Shawn Poore visited Congressman Martin Heinrich in his Washington, D.C. office.
Heinrich, a second-term U.S. Congressman representing New Mexico’s First District, graduated from MU with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1995.
Heinrich said his fondest memories of his days at the University of Missouri are associated his participation on the solar car team, and the car’s — SunTiger I —19th place finish in the 1993 Sunrayce from Dallas, Texas, to Minneapolis, Minn. The vehicle had the highest qualifying position of all of participating rookie teams.
“The solar car team was my first real experience working with a group, integrating disciplines, to get something done,” Heinrich said. “It took the skills of all of us together to make it work.”
Immediately after graduating from MU, Heinrich and his wife, Julie, a 1993 Mizzou J-school graduate, traveled to New Mexico.
“We decided to move to Albuquerque because that’s where the engineering and technical labs were,” Heinrich said. “I first took construction jobs to pay the bills before getting my résumé in front of the right person.”
Prior to running for office, Heinrich worked at the Kirtland Air Force base conducting research with lasers and microwaves.
Both Kirtland and Sandia National Labs are located in Heinrich’s congressional district. With that constituency — and his technical training as an engineer — he maintains a special connection and unique insight for his role as a member of the House Armed Services Committee. That committee has oversight for national defense labs as well as general defense and energy policy.
“My academic training makes me an outcomes-based person,” Heinrich said. “Most of the boards and legislative bodies I have served on are more process-based. But as an engineer, I maintain a focus on outcomes.”
Heinrich served as Albuquerque City Council president and as Natural Resources Trustee for the State of New Mexico before taking national office.
The congressman urges today’s Mizzou Engineering students not to lose sight of the need to be academically focused, but also encourages them to smell the roses.
“On a university campus where amazing things happen every week, take advantage of the opportunities afforded you,” he said.
Heinrich and his wife, Julie, who works Mid-Region Council of Governments in IT, have two young sons, Carter and Micah.