Civil alumnus splits time among family, business, community
Growing up in Nixa, Mo., Dave Weber appreciated the example set forth by his father Simon, a man who served in the U.S. Navy as an electrician and at one point, owned a hardware store.
“He was a tinkerer,” Weber said of his father. “It was nice having someone who was handy to watch while I was growing up.”
Immediately after high school, Weber joined the Army National Guard, using the G.I. Bill to pay for school. While in the National Guard, minor colorblindness limited Weber’s duties to a only a handful of options: infantry, radio operations or making music. Weber played trombone in the National Guard marching band and guitar in the jazz band.
It was a different time, Weber said. “This was the late ’80s. The Gulf War hadn’t started. Nobody was deployed,” he added. He remained in the Guard until 1993.
Weber started college at then-Southwest Missouri State University (now known as Missouri State University) in Springfield. Even then, Weber said he didn’t know what he wanted to do. He spent a few years at “SMS” before transferred to Mizzou with friends. His interest in buildings and structures led him to civil engineering, where he found the subject more interesting as he progressed.
“I don’t know why I chose civil,” Weber said. “I just know I enjoyed the structural stuff. I find that when you discover something you’re interested in, the more you enjoy the advanced courses.”
Weber earned his bachelor’s degree in 1992 and completed a master’s degree in 1994. His first job during graduate school was with John Mann, a professional engineer in Clark, Mo. A year later, he was working for Pellham-Phillips-Hagerman, in Springfield, Mo.
“I knew I wanted to work at a smaller firm,” Weber said. “It occurred to me that in order to do that, I would need to make eye contact in an interview.”
By “eye contact,” Weber means networking, calling firms and asking for interviews and simply getting to know others in the industry. This is a skill he said he would stress to new graduates: learn how to network and then put it to good use.
“It may be different for bigger firms, but I know most of our recent hiring is from students we’ve worked with or who’ve been recommended to us,” he said.
Weber came to Columbia in 1997 when he joined his current firm, Allstate Consultants. Since 2000, he has served as one of the firm’s principals and its chief of structural engineering. As principal, Weber is one of the firm’s owners. He said he spends approximately 15 to 20 percent of his time working as a manager and overseeing operations.
He also is one of five Mizzou Engineering alumni to serve as a structural specialist for Missouri Task Force One with FEMA’s Urban Search and Rescue Response System. This volunteer effort has given Weber in-person involvement with search and recovery efforts after the events of Sept. 11, Hurricane Katrina and the EF-5 Joplin tornado.
Thinking back to his time at Mizzou, Weber said he would tell current students to enjoy their time at college.
“You think you’re are stressed for time now, but later you’ll realize how much free time you had,” he said. He also stressed the importance of making professional connections with people such as faculty and other mentors. Weber said he still consults with his former teachers.
“It’s like working with a repeat client,” he said. “You can’t help but have that relationship.”
In his free time, Weber said he enjoys most outdoor activities, especially fishing and canoeing. He lives in Columbia with his wife Libby and two children, Max and Hanna.