David Thomson

David Thomson
  • BS Civil Engineering 1983

Dave Thomson grew up in Kodiak, Alaska, and arrived at Michigan Tech, foregoing a commercial fishing career. Initially enrolled in metallurgical engineering, he soon realized that dirt and big equipment was more to his liking and switched to civil engineering. He was influenced by Ed Haltenhoff, a professor of practice with a career in construction and notably the project manager who built the Mackinac Bridge. Thomson graduated in 1983 into a poor economy. He had worked with Burlington Northern Railroad one summer and ended up joining them after graduation.    

Thomson worked at BN initially as a management trainee and in his 20-year career covered most frontline positions before moving into corporate roles. He led the railroad’s capital strategic planning, implemented unit train concepts and efficiencies, and finished up leading a $430 million procurement and logistics project. Additionally, he represented BN interests, while also chairing two separate industry-wide Association of American Railroad committees implementing the Stagger’s Act, the deregulation of the rail network.

In 2008, Thomson joined STV, Inc. in California where he led the National Environmental Policy Act, Planning and Environmental clearance for two large public works projects. Deciding public projects were not his passion, he moved to the Chicago area and started a consulting practice focused on private industrial clients. He also reconnected with Michigan Tech thru Pasi Lautala, and joined the Rail Transportation Advisory Board in 2011. Thomson served two terms on the Civil and Environmental Professional Academic Advisory Committee and in 2019 was recognized with a departmental alumni service award.

Merging his company into a larger firm in 2017, Thomson leads the Industry Market for Hanson Professional Services, and continues to work on helping clients improve rail terminals, port facilities, and industrial sites. He has developed a large collection of analytical, logistical, financial, and market assessment tools that he claims will become a text one day. 

From CEGE Academy induction ceremony, Fall 2023