Alumni engineering our future: Duane Reichel

Duane Reichel (BSCEE ’87) is particularly well placed to contribute to the design of the UW-Madison College of Engineering’s new building.

Not only did Reichel grow up in Madison and earn his degree from the college, but his company, Soils & Engineering Services Inc., has already provided geotechnical engineering services for the new Union South, the planned south end zone renovation at Camp Randall Stadium, and a host of other projects across the UW-Madison campus.

“We know the area pretty well,” says Reichel, whose father, Earl (also a UW-Madison engineering graduate), cofounded the company in 1966.

Photo of Duane Reichel at a construction site
Alumnus Duane Reichel, right, and colleague at a construction site.

For the engineering building project, Soils & Engineering Services will lead the geotechnical investigation of the construction site and prepare the geotechnical report to ensure the structure’s foundation will be adequately supported.

Reichel, who’s been president of the company since 2018, is among the alumni applying their professional expertise to help their alma mater. Here, he discusses his work and his role on the project.

How did your experiences as a student prepare you for your professional work?

“They helped to give me a broader view of what’s related to civil engineering. I was growing up in just the soils part of it, knowing everything below ground but not really knowing all the behind-the-scenes work to design a project, as well as what goes on during construction of the project itself.”

What do you like about your work?

“It’s interesting finding out about projects, before they’re being done, and just being part of the whole process, whether it’s an interstate highway project or even somebody’s house addition. It’s fun to be part of the process as far as gathering information and helping to make each project successful and constructible.”

What does your geotechnical engineering role entail on this project?

“It will start out with us doing soil sampling. We’ve got our own drilling rigs to collect the soil samples. In this particular project, we’re planning to sample down to bedrock, which we anticipate being roughly 70 to 90 feet below grade. And then once we get that soil information, we’ll bring all that back to our laboratory here, we’ll do some tests on the various samples that we recover, and then we’ll write the report with our recommendations.”

As an engineering alum, what excites you most about working on this particular project?

“That’s where most of my schooling was, on the engineering campus, and being part of a team that’s designing a new building on the campus where I attended college is pretty exciting.”