Alumni highlight interview: CEM Logan Cook is 40 under 40

Learn more about Logan Cook in the interview we did with him about his career as a Purdue alum and construction engineer

Tell me your story 

"I grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. My father, in addition to being a Registered Architect, has been a Professional FireFighter for the past 32 years-currently a Battalion Chief of the Indianapolis Fire Department. My mother worked part time as an office manager, then raised my siblings and I, then became a grade school teacher. During my youth, and even into my college career, I was intent on following my father’s path to become a third generation firefighter. My parents supported this but also encouraged me to pursue a college degree first - as they had. At Purdue, I pursued Engineering Degrees in both construction engineering and management and structural engineering. I chose to pursue construction engineering and management during my undergraduate studies because one of the professors during first year engineering described Construction Engineering and Management as a degree that allows you to “work outside”. I also found value in the internship program and having hands-on experience prior to graduating.

During my college career, I had five different internships with four different companies (Duke Realty, WJE, Central Building and Preservation, and ARSEE Engineers) where I experienced commercial office building development, hands on labor as an assistant field superintendent on a new four story office building, building preservation and restoration, and structural engineering design. As I discerned where my talents and interests converged, I was often looking for something I did not believe existed. A career with the thrill of helping others in urgent/high-pressure situations combined with the challenge of technical engineering problem solving without sitting in an office all day, every day. One of my parents’ college friends, had invited me to shadow him at WJE one week during the summer of 2008 in Chicago where he introduced me to the repair and restoration work they did on historic skyrise buildings as well as all the many collapses and failures WJE has investigated. At that moment, I realized a career in failure investigation, repair, and restoration was a convergence of my talents and interests. 

I started with WJE in 2012 in their Chicago office. In late 2013, my wife and I were pulled by family circumstances to move back to Indianapolis. I knew the culture at WJE was special and knew very few companies could offer the same culture I desired. So, I pitched WJE a plan for expanding WJE’s architectural and engineering practice into Indianapolis. To my surprise, they did not say “no” and let a 26 year old kid move to Indianapolis in April of 2014 in an attempt to start an office for WJE. At that time, I was determined, but blissfully ignorant of the high level of effort necessary to make this idea a success. In fact, one of my great mentors has admitted years later that he did not think it was going to succeed but is happy it did. I reflect on that moment in April 2014, moving back to Indianapolis, and think of Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken, “… Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” 

Working from a spare bedroom in an apartment shortly after moving to Indianapolis in 2014 trying to start something. 

Tell me about your industry experience 

"Since joining WJE in 2012, I’ve had the opportunity to work on some really challenging problems in the built world. At WJE we are often called when there is a failure or construction or design issue. These are often very urgent and high pressure situations where accurate answers are desired quickly. I’ve had the opportunity to work on collapses, building enclosure failures, historic preservation, facade evaluation and repair, roofing replacement design, structural retrofit design and repair, and many more."

   

What big projects have you worked on that helped shape you as a construction engineer?

"The Indiana World War Memorial 2019 repair project remains one of my favorite projects that I have managed. The State of Indiana called upon WJE to evaluate water leakage through the exterior roof areas of the historic monument. Based on historic documentation, water leakage had been an on-going issue for the Indiana World War Memorial essentially since it was built. There had been many previous repairs to the building to attempt to remedy the leakage but all failed at some point. After a thorough investigation utilizing our difficult access team, we identified the cause of the leakage and developed a relatively simple but long-term solution. The project was completed in late 2019 and our team fixed a problem that no one else in the past century figured out. It was a proud moment for us. 

This project and many others related to failures of structures or building components have continued to shape me by showing the value of taking time to plan and think critically about the problems, solutions and the details. It is critical in our industry to understand not only how things work, but how they can fail when designing and building. If we don’t understand how things can fail and what is causing the problem, it may return or fester."

  

What does being named 40 under 40 mean to you? 

"Of course, it is an honor to be considered worthy of the IBJ 40 under 40 title when you see the list of highly successful people who have also been honored with this title. It is also an opportunity to share recognition and appreciation for everyone who has had my back, picked me up, and supported me along the way. This includes the CEM community at Purdue University. 

I also believe this honor provides some expectations to continue growing both personally and professionally. Considering I am probably in the first third of my career, it would be silly to peak now and not rise to earn this honor with what I hope are many more years of growth and learning." 

   

What advice do you have for current CEM students? 

"Set goals (both personal and professional) and learn to embrace and enjoy the day to day work that goes into achieving your goals and the personal connections you make along the way. One of my best friends is a fellow Purdue CEM graduate. We are now neighbors and we celebrate the goals we are both achieving while watching our kids grow up and play together."

 
Career History: Refer to linked in page. https://www.linkedin.com/in/logan-j-cook/ 
PQ for some relevant experience: https://www.wje.com/expertise/people/detail/logan-j-cook