Boswell on Engineering and Building a Better Stevens

 

“I believe what we do every single day makes somebody’s life better.”

That’s the care Stephen Boswell – president of a prolific engineering firm, patriarch of a prodigious family, and stalwart trustee of Stevens – puts into his job, one that helps people across the country drive, ride, work and play.

Boswell leads Boswell Engineering, a company his grandfather David started in 1924. Though he already had degrees in biology from NYU and William Paterson, he believed he needed an engineering degree before taking over the family business. After visiting Castle Point, he chose Stevens over other top schools. 

“I picked Stevens because of the people I met. The dean and the head of the civil engineering department convinced me that this was a good place to go, that they were people from whom I could learn.” 

Boswell Engineering serves municipal, county, state and federal clients along the mid-Atlantic and as far away as Minnesota, Arkansas and even Hawaii. Private sector clients include both industrial concerns and the largest developers in the country.

In the tristate area, Boswell has worked on major roads such as the New Jersey Turnpike, the Garden State Parkway, and Route 287 in New York from Rockland through Westchester County, across the Tappan Zee Bridge. “We do a tremendous amount of work on the Parkway. We’ve done many of the interchanges, we do a large number of the paving jobs, and it’s a great roadway.”

The firm provides the full spectrum of civil and environmental engineering, including both design and construction supervision. Areas of specialization include transportation, structural, water, wastewater and underwater engineering, surveying, permit acquisition, site remediation, private development, and GIS services. Projects include the Lautenberg Rail Station in Secaucus, inspection of many of the Port Authority’s waterfront structures, paving at Newark airport, and the design and construction supervision of the Sinatra Park waterfront in Hoboken. 

One of Boswell’s favorite projects solved a problem and saved a company in Newark. “A company that made pigments couldn’t get their wastewater down to an acceptable level, and they were getting fined by the sewerage authority. We came up with something no one else had thought of doing, and we saved 300 jobs with the company still in business today.”

When he was younger, Boswell spent his summers working for the family business, then under his father, Howard, and uncle, David. After spending a few years teaching, working in pharmaceutical and industrial sales, and even starting a software company in California, he returned in the mid-1980s and now leads the firm alongside his brothers, Bruce and Kevin, both engineers and vice presidents.

Boswell’s daughter, Kristen, also worked for the company as project manager before becoming a full-time mom. She is the first fourth-generation licensed engineer in New Jersey. “The most important thing passed down to each generation has been a work ethic – if you want something, it’s up to you to work hard enough to get it.”

Alongside his work and family, Boswell, who received the 2004 Schaefer Entrepreneur Award, has served Stevens as a trustee since 2000. “Right now the state of Stevens is the best in my 17 years. The most tangible result you can look at is how our kids do after they graduate. They all get jobs or go to graduate school. They get the desired outcome they’re looking for, and then if you look at their mid-range salaries, we’re one of the top in the country. You look at the return on investment, we’re one of the top in the country.”

Boswell is a member of all four philanthropic societies, including the Edwin A. Stevens Society, a 25+ year member of the Gear Society for annual giving, the Legacy Society for planned gifts, and the Lifetime Giving Society, of which he is a member of the Kenneth DeBaun ’49 level, the most generous donors in Stevens’ history.

He has supported a family scholarship, campus facilities, athletics, and programs promoting ethics and innovation in the School of Business. “The first reason I like supporting Stevens is I see an immediate result of those dollars. When I fund something, it gets built. Second, I think the future of the country is in STEM, and we’re really good at it here. Stevens has the engineering side and the business side, both of which I think are critical to our nation going forward.” 

He also supports Stevens to help the family business, as it approaches the beginning of its second century in operation. “I’m in the engineering field and need good engineers. We hire a lot of kids who go to Stevens, and they’re very good employees. I want a school that can produce those engineers, and I want to be part of making Stevens even better than it’s always been.”

 

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