QLA Test Pit



So-Deep’s senior management team realized that their creation needed a distinctive name. Jim Anspach remembers that: “After much debate, we decided that ‘Subsurface Utility Engineering’ was apt and descriptive. This name was presented to the world in 1989 at the first National Highway/Utility Conference in Cleveland, Ohio.”

When the Federal Highway Administration’s promotion of SUE began in 1991, it was determined by leaders in the Office of Engineering that Subsurface Utility Engineering and SUE were apt names for this engineering practice. They particularly liked “Engineering” in the name and from the very beginning considered Subsurface Utility Engineering to be a professional engineering practice.

Even though Subsurface Utility Engineering was considered to be a perfect name, there was a time when the term “SUE” was in jeopardy. It culminated one day when the FHWA’s Office of Public Affairs was making a video for in-house distribution about Subsurface Utility Engineering. A young woman with much marketing experience and public relations expertise was in charge of the project. At some point I told her that I wasn’t sure if SUE was an appropriate name for an engineering practice. She vehemently disagreed. She said that SUE was a catchy name, whereas Subsurface Utility Engineering was a mouthful, and she strongly recommended that we keep it and use it. We did. It went into the video and everything we did after that. And she was so right.

Next week I am going to summarize what I consider to be the highlights of Subsurface Utility Engineering during the 1980s. Then, the next week after that, I will begin discussing the FHWA’s involvement. Jim Anspach told me recently that he considered the FHWA’s involvement during the 1990s to be one of three major reasons why SUE has evolved to what it is today.  And we all know that it has grown from an idea in Garon Stutzman’s head to an industry of thousands of companies employing many more thousands of employees.