Case Studies

Ward McMasters – Earth Engineering Incorporated  

Investigating the earth for engineering projects of all sizes 

Ward McMasters, the president of Earth Engineering Inc., stands at the helm of a prominent geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering consulting firm based in the Philadelphia Metropolitan region. With over 33 years on the job, McMasters has transitioned into a guidance role, allowing his skilled directors to lead the company’s projects.  

Ward McMasters | President | Earth Engineering Incorporated  

Ward McMasters | President | Earth Engineering Incorporated

EEI specializes in commercial geotechnical work, catering to the needs of developers, architects, and structural engineers in the commercial sector across the Tri-State Area of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. 

McMasters actively supports EEI’s goals, emphasizing a balanced employee structure, middle management training for future retirements, and increased overall company awareness. This commitment extends to innovative structural support designs and efforts to attract top-tier talent to the organization. 

As McMasters reflects on industry changes since he founded EEI, he notes a marked evolution in the perception of geotechnical engineers.  

“Once regarded as troubleshooters brought in to resolve issues, geotechnical engineers are now recognized as valuable contributors to the design team,” McMasters says.  

This shift in perception extends beyond designers to include owners and contractors, emphasizing the crucial role of subsurface soil conditions in building foundation design. 

Supporting the team 

With an eye on industry trends, EEI strives to maintain quality and conformance to project plans and specifications and has a proactive role in construction inspection, testing, and documentation. The company’s commitment to assisting contractors in building aligns with contemporary expectations of thorough construction practices. EEI’s approach has positioned the firm as a valuable partner, contributing to project success and the overall efficiency of the construction process. 

Ward McMasters | President | Earth Engineering Incorporated  

McMasters remains actively engaged in supporting the company’s goals, including maintaining a balanced employee mix and enhancing overall company awareness. That is apparent in how the company responded resiliently during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“While others in our industry and other industries were laying off employees or shutting down completely, we swiftly rehired almost 50 staff members,” McMasters says. “If that doesn’t show a strong commitment to our workforce, nothing does.” 

Attracting and retaining talent in the geotechnical field presents a considerable challenge for EEI and the industry as a whole. McMasters acknowledges the changing dynamics and actively seeks innovative solutions. The company’s emphasis on creating a company culture that attracts professionals aligns with contemporary recruitment strategies. By highlighting its core values and articulating a clear purpose centered on client care, organizational health, and public safety, EEI sets itself apart as an employer of choice. 

EEI employs a multifaceted approach to talent acquisition, leveraging various sources such as online platforms, college and university job fairs, co-op programs, recruiter agencies, and referrals. Recognizing the importance of field services, EEI frequently hires new graduates in the physical sciences, providing them with opportunities to work in related fields like engineering, geology, and earth science.  

“Our company strongly favors our employees moving up and gaining the knowledge they need to enhance their careers. We offer certification courses and tuition reimbursement, fostering a culture of continuous learning,” McMasters notes.  

The work is the key 

In a specialized industry, EEI excels in innovative structural support designs. McMasters emphasizes the importance of understanding construction aspects and the soil mechanics and materials involved. He underscores the need for a global perspective, particularly in designing retaining walls, highlighting the company’s geology and earth sciences niche. 

Ward McMasters | President | Earth Engineering Incorporated  

Attempting to pinpoint specific projects for 2024 proves challenging due to EEI’s involvement in many endeavors simultaneously. Unlike a contractor focused on a select number of projects, EEI’s contributions are dispersed across numerous small but crucial parts of various projects. This broad involvement is emblematic of the firm’s commitment to providing comprehensive geotechnical solutions. 

As McMasters looks ahead, he expresses enthusiasm for continued growth and the evolving landscape of geotechnical engineering. The challenges posed by the changing role of geotechnical engineers and the imperative to allow others to lead reflect McMasters’ adaptability and commitment to the growth of the firm and its professionals. 

Evolving leadership 

McMasters’ leadership journey at EEI. showcases a remarkable evolution over his 33-year tenure as president. While he initially took a hands-on approach and was directly involved in project tasks, McMasters now primarily operates in the background, allowing experienced directors to lead various ventures. This transformation reflects a shift from a project-focused mindset to a strategic one, emphasizing the importance of task clarity and accountability in managing a growing organization.  

“I’m still around, but I understand the need for systems and guidance to navigate many projects has deepened,” he explains.  

This evolution underscores his commitment to steering EEI toward success by fostering a culture of professionalism, innovation, and adaptability in the dynamic field of geotechnical engineering. 

Ward McMasters | President | Earth Engineering Incorporated  

“In my 33 years at Earth Engineering, I’ve witnessed a transformative journey in leadership. From hands-on project involvement to guiding our skilled directors, it’s a testament to our adaptability and commitment to success in the dynamic realm of geotechnical engineering,” McMasters says. 

Hailing from Penndel, Pennsylvania, McMasters attended Neshaminy High School before starting his academic journey at Drexel University. His undergraduate and graduate degrees in geotechnical engineering and geology laid the foundation for a career marked by passion and dedication. 

Married for 37 years, McMasters is a family man with two sons and a daughter. Despite the demands of his professional life, he and his wife actively pursue opportunities to spend time with their two grandsons, who reside in Nashville with their daughter and son-in-law. 

“I’m more than just an engineer. I love golf, playing the guitar and exploring my passion for rock and mineral collecting. But my biggest love is visiting the beach in Sea Isle City, New Jersey. It has been the site of many cherished moments with family and friends and will be for years to come,” he says.  

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