August 2011


Mr. Kenneth Wright, P.E., D.WRE, Dist.M.ASCE is Founder and Chairman of Wright Water Engineers (WWE) in Denver, Colorado, where he currently serves as Chief Financial Officer and the Chief Engineer (1961 to present) in WWE's general practice of engineering. Mr. Wright is a professional engineer with specialized knowledge in agricultural and irrigation engineering, hydrology, water rights, water supply, groundwater studies, monitoring and wells, flood control and drainage, water rights appraisals, dams, pollution management, and permitting. Mr. Wright is President and Board member of the Wright Paleohydrological Institute since founding the Institute in 1998 and is the Director of the Machu Picchu Hydrological Survey and the Mesa Verde Paleohydrological Survey.

Mr. Wright is a member and past chairman of the Colorado State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors (1975 to 1984). He served as Hearing Officer for professional practices complaints and is a past member of the National Council of Engineering Examiners. Ken is a registered Professional Engineer in 15 states and his company had received both the Colorado and National Ethics in Business awards.

Besides being a Diplomate, Water Resources Engineer, Ken has been the recipient of many notable honors and awards—among some of these recognitions are: Distinguished Member of American Society of Civil Engineers, Colorado Foundation for Water Education's President's Award, the U.S. Society for Irrigation and Drainage Professionals' Service to the Profession Award, three Honorary Professorships and an Honorary Doctorate from various Peruvian Universities and the Order of Merit decoration for Distinguished Service to the Republic of Peru. In 2011, Ken and his wife Ruth, were awarded a joint honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin. The two each received the Explorers Club's Lowell Thomas Award in 2011, as well.

Mr. Wright earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin, Madison (UW-M) and later earned his Master of Science in Civil Engineering from UW-M.

Ken is a founding Diplomate of AAWRE and in this interview, he shares his thoughts with AAWRE on his career, his love of civil engineering, his interest in Peru, and his advice for engineers and leaders of tomorrow.

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Most enjoyable project or research I worked on: With fifty years of inspiring projects to think about and choosing only one, I would have to say my research at Machu Picchu in Peru has been tops because it led me to delve into the everyday lives of the pre-historic Inca civil engineers and to know how they handled design challenges big and small on a daily basis. They left lots of evidence in the form of earth and stone shaping for modern engineers to study. On some days in the field, I felt as if I was standing in the sandals of an ancient Inca engineer, trying to build a ceremonial fountain or build a retaining wall that would stand up to the elements.