Sean Dirscherl P.E. ’16 M.Eng. ’16 Builds Foundations that Last
As a project manager with McLaren Engineering Group, Sean Dirscherl P.E. ’16 M.Eng. ’16 ensures that waterfront projects rest on secure, resilient foundations. As an active Stevens alumnus, he helps build strong networks for students and young alumni.
When taking in the view of an impressive skyline or high-rise, it’s typical for our gaze to travel upward, where buildings meet sky. Fortunately, the world has engineers like Sean Dirscherl ’16 M.Eng. ’16, who are more interested in what’s holding the structures up.
For as long as Dirscherl can remember, he was interested in how things are built. “I had a talent for solving problems,” he says, recalling his high school’s annual competition to build and test catapults worthy of medieval warfare.
Once he settled on civil engineering and enrolled at Stevens, Dirscherl fast-tracked his education, completing both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in civil engineering during a five-year co-op track, with a concentration in structural engineering as well as a minor in engineering management. He took advantage of the opportunity to engage in research with the Stevens Center for Maritime Systems and accelerated his career well before graduation through internships at Advance Testing Company, Inc., Thornton Tomasetti, Hayward Baker, Inc. and Weeks Marine, Inc.
Still, Dirscherl found time to participate in several campus organizations, including the Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity, Kappa Sigma, and the Student Government Association as well as Gear and Triangle, Tau Beta Pi Engineering and Chi Epsilon Civil Engineering honor societies. He also served as a student ambassador and as president of the Stevens chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
“I was very busy,” he says. “But there is so much to be gained by trying new things. It opens so many doors to new people, new ideas and great memories. In my senior year, I was charged with organizing the Red & Gray Experience, a student-run campus spirit festival. One highlight was orchestrating a parade complete with a marching band!”
Dirscherl’s early career years were spent with Weeks Marine, where he was a staff engineer. He worked on projects ranging from seawall rehabilitations at Ellis Island National Monument, to installing subsea power cables between New York, New Jersey, and Delaware, to demolition of the original Tappan Zee Bridge. Since 2022, he has been a project manager with McLaren Engineering Group’s Marine & Coastal division.
“I work on waterfront projects, from rehabilitating failing shorelines to creating new opportunities for public waterfront use,” he says, drawing a line from his undergraduate research experience at Stevens to his current areas of responsibility. “Whether it is a ferry landing or new multipurpose high-rises, we need to protect sites from future storms while also providing access to the waterfront. I oversee inspections, review drawings and craft design solutions that address engineering needs as well as organize permitting efforts. A lot of stakeholder coordination is needed to get from concept to construction.”
Recently, Dirscherl worked on waterfront structures critical to the development of a proposed media production campus in Bayonne, 1888 Studios. The site formerly served both petroleum storage and electrical cable fabrication, and prior to the project existed entirely within a flood zone. “The permitting and design were really challenging, but we were able to move from inception to construction in only eight months! It was rewarding to deliver results like this to the client.”
“I benefited from Stevens’ robust coastal and structural design programs and from Stevens’ approach to teaching,” he adds. “When professors assigned projects, they gave you parameters and a degree of free reign, which meant you had to go and find the solutions to the problem at hand.”
Dirscherl, a member of the Order of Engineers, is also a Professional Engineer licensed in the State of New Jersey and certified by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for Construction Quality Management.
Dirscherl understands the value of a good foundation and brings that sensibility to his involvement with Stevens. “Kappa Sigma chartered while I was a student,” he notes. “When I graduated, I started my Kappa Sigma chapter’s alumni association. It was very rewarding to set up and drive giving competitions to raise scholarship funds. While not an active member of the board, I continue to help recruit young alumni and encourage them to find opportunities to stay involved after graduation. Shortly after founding Kappa Sigma’s alumni association, I helped restart my Alpha Phi Omega chapter’s alumni association as well.”
“Alumni networks are such a great resource for everyone involved,” he explains. “Undergrads can reach out to alumni when they are job hunting. Industry professionals can reach out to each other when they are recruiting to fill positions. I always encourage students to engage and contribute when they become alumni.”