Keeping water (and communities) running

Celena Shepherd, Communications

September 15, 2023

An engineer with more than 20 years of experience, Keith Beatty was looking for something different. So, he joined Olsson in 2022 to pursue his passion for water.    

We recently caught up with Keith, a technical leader in our Tulsa, Oklahoma office, to learn more about how he helps keep communities – and their water – running. 

Q: What inspired you to be an engineer? 

I became an engineer because I love fixing things. I remember tearing things apart when I was a kid and, eventually, I had to put things back together – which I also enjoyed. Growing up, I was told that engineering would be a good fit for me. I decided to study civil engineering at Kansas State University. In college, I got to work for a small local firm to learn everything I could about civil engineering. I was eager to gain experience in survey, testing, bridge, inspections, and really saw the positive impact it had on the community.  

Q: Can you tell me about your background and what led you to Olsson? 

Before coming to Olsson, I served in a few different roles on a wide array of projects. From a small engineering firm to structural engineering to being a city engineer and more, I enjoyed the variety of experiences and being able to see projects built that I helped design. And like most engineers, I learned to be flexible as my duties evolved to meet client needs. I gained a lot of valuable experience as the city engineer for Emporia, Kansas, touching every aspect of the city from planning/zoning, the water plant, the wastewater treatment plant, the airport, and engineering.  

Since then, I have worked for a few firms, but I was looking for a change where I could concentrate on one thing. The opportunity to help the water/wastewater team in Oklahoma seemed like a great fit for me. Now, I enjoy working with all of the Olsson employees, bouncing ideas off of each other, and mentoring. We don't just sit down and design. It’s fun and we have a great camaraderie here.  

Q: What do you enjoy about water and wastewater engineering? 

These projects make a big impact on people every day, even if they don't realize it. It's easy to take for granted that you turn on the faucet and expect water to be there, and of course, we expect a sewer to go somewhere other than our house or business. Water and wastewater are crucial to help keep cities running safely and efficiently. 

As part of my job, I enjoy working with cities and city officials. Most citizens don't realize how much public works employees do for them. There are so many things that affect the day-to-day in a city. Public works employees don't get a lot of recognition, but whether it's a road or a bridge, water, sewer, or sanitation, these employees do their best to keep the city running and healthy.