On the Run
The Shinneman family after completing the New York City Marathon in November. From left: Luke, Amy and Jamie
Alumnus competes in marathons in support of Muscular Dystrophy Association
Through his connections to his school and his family, this civil engineering alumnus continues to seek opportunities to pay it forward.
Jamie Shinneman (BSCE ’96) is the senior vice president of commercial development at Weihe Engineers in Indianapolis. He joined the company in 2002 and has been a part of many residential, commercial and educational developments throughout the Midwest.
A native of Noblesville, Indiana, Shinneman said he always knew he wanted to work in the civil engineering or architectural field. Like many other civil engineers, that interest was sparked by a fascination with building and creating things as a child.
“When I was a kid, I always loved building things like forts,” he said. “It’s just something that always stuck with me — to come up with an idea and work to make it happen in real life. From there, I had a great interest in pursuing a career where I could create homes and buildings for a living.”
When it came time for college, Shinneman looked to Purdue to prepare him to make his dream a reality.
“I knew Purdue was a great place to study engineering — both from growing up in Indiana and knowing about it and from my grandfather, Jim Kenney, who got his degree as a metallurgical engineer in 1949,” Shinneman said. “And when I started taking my first civil engineering classes, I knew this is where I wanted to be.”
In addition to what he learned from the faculty, Shinneman credited the Civil Engineering Co-operative Education Program with providing him with the necessary skills and experience to pursue his career goals.
“It was something I started after my freshman year,” he said. “I worked for the Tippecanoe County Highway Department and it’s where I gained a tremendous amount of experience. That gave me a real understanding of what my future in civil engineering could be like.”
Shinneman remains a strong supporter of the program to this day.
“The co-op program is one that I strongly believe in and I want to see it continue to grow because I know how instrumental it can be to a civil engineering student,” Shinneman said. “Not only does it develop your skills as a civil engineer, it also sets you up for your career. You make contacts and learn what you really like about civil engineering. Honestly, I can’t speak highly enough about the program.”
Jack, Jamie, Amy and Luke Shinneman
Team Momentum - Muscular Dystrophy Association
Another organization Shinneman has been actively involved with is the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Team Momentum. The team competes in marathons and half-marathons in an effort to raise a greater awareness for muscular dystrophy. In November 2021, he completed the New York Marathon — his eighth marathon to date.
Shinneman’s involvement with the MDA is a personal one. His wife, Amy, was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disease a few years ago.
“We were high school sweethearts. She’s always had muscle weakness since birth and she always wondered why,” he said. “Her parents — then, later, she and I — went to several doctors over the years and no one could tell us the cause. Even the Mayo Clinic couldn’t figure it out when she was younger. Eventually, her current neurologist ordered a genetic test, and that’s when they discovered she had a rare form of muscular dystrophy. I remember it being such an elating feeling for us both. While it was certainly not the kind of news someone might wish for, it was also a relief to finally know what we are dealing with after all these years. We could finally move forward, knowing what we were facing.”
And move forward they did — at a runner’s pace.
Their sons, Luke and Jack, both play sports and participate in cross country and track and field. From there, Shinneman said, the whole family developed an interest in running.
“It just started with us running together through the neighborhood,” he said. “I ended up really enjoying myself and then it went from joining 5k runs to a half-marathon — and then it continued to grow. It was then I decided I wanted to use my abilities to help others and started running for World Vision, which seeks to provide water for children in Africa. But then, after Amy’s diagnosis, I sought to partner with Team Momentum for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.”
Over the last three years, Shinneman represented Team Momentum in marathons in New York, Boston and Chicago. In November, his son, Luke — now 18 (and recently accepted into Purdue), was able to join him for the first time in New York.
“It was just an amazing experience to be able to do that with my son,” he said. “To be there with Amy and Luke the entire way is something I’ll never forget.”
As for the future, Shinneman said he wants them to participate in the other Abbott World Major Marathons held in Berlin, London and Tokyo. For now, though, he said, he plans to rest a bit and enjoy training in the comfort of his own neighborhood.