February 21, 2023
Starkville and other cities that are counted among the best places to live are not just population centers that pop up haphazardly and grow—they require an amazing amount of forethought, analysis, planning and resiliency to accommodate the basic needs of residents, such as reliable electricity and water.
That’s why Starkville Utilities is joining the nation in recognizing the importance of its engineers during Engineers Week, February 19–25.
Founded by the National Society of Professional Engineers in 1951, Engineers Week is dedicated to ensuring a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce by increasing understanding of, and interest in, engineering and technology careers.
“Engineers are the problem solvers and innovators who make cities great places to live, work and play,” said Edward Kemp, general manager of Starkville Utilities. “Not only do they work to maintain systems that are essential for quality of life, like safe running water and adequate drainage to keep the community clean, but they also have their eyes fixed on the future to keep up with rapid population growth and technology improvements.”
Starkville Utilities currently employs three engineers who work together to maintain and improve the city’s new and existing utility infrastructure: Mary Williams, Bailey Wofford and Jason Horner.
Williams is the capital projects manager for Starkville Utilties and sums up the importance of municipal engineering succinctly.
“We wouldn’t have a modern world without engineering,” Williams said.
Williams is responsible for large-scale improvements such as the upcoming Main Street project that will replace aging water lines in the area where Main Street and Lampkin Street intersect. The goal is to create lasting improvements for better utility capacity in that area.
Wofford is the water system engineer at Starkville Utilities. Her primary responsibilities are to make sure existing infrastructure is up to par and to help design new developments. She is also the connection between operational crews and customers, helping to communicate concerns and plans for solutions.
Meanwhile, Horner is Wofford’s counterpart on the electrical side of Starkville Utilities. His work as the electric system engineer is similar to that of Wofford—ensuring an electrical grid that can accommodate today’s residents while providing flexibility for handling Starkville’s continued growth.
“Our job [as engineers] is to find the problem and fix it,” Wofford said. “We do modeling and testing for how things work now and where we need to be for future growth.”
Becoming an engineer requires a significant educational investment and specialized training. Engineers who work at Starkville Utilities hold degrees in civil or electrical engineering and must be knowledgeable of engineering codes, regulations and standards that govern their profession.
Starkville Utilities is a public utility serving 14,000 residences, businesses and industries in Starkville, Mississippi as well as Mississippi State University. Its mission is to supply safe, reliable, and cost-effective electric and water service of superior quality and value that improves the lives of its customers.