Michael J. Monteleone, P.E., ’84 ’86 MS has maintained a strong interest in geosynthetics, geology, soil mechanics, and hydrology. He is the prototype for a geotechnical/environmental engineer.
But back in the mid-80s, a major that combined civil, geotechnical and environmental studies did not exist at Drexel or any universities. Monteleone, in collaboration with Joe Martin, Bob Koerner and Ed Doheny, developed a civil engineering master’s program tailored to a “geoenvironmental” curriculum which combined the core elements from geosynthetic, environmental, geotechnical and engineering geology programs. The combination of these programs was the critical career path he was seeking.
“It was my version of becoming a geotechnical environmental engineer, which was unheard of at the time,” says the 55-year-old principal and vice president of strategic business development at Oasis Consulting Services in Roswell, Ga. “Nobody did that.”
Monteleone, who lives in Marietta, Ga. with his wife Veronika and three their children, credits Drexel University’s flexibility for his educational and professional successes. “That’s the thing I still like about Drexel to this day,” he says. “They will let you take that creativity and tailor a program to meet you where your interests are. … Drexel is always trying to push that envelope.”
The university is a family affair. His wife, Veronika Monteleone, ’85 studied electrical engineering obtained a BS in Electrical Engineering. She was an adjunct professor in mathematics and statistics at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia, and she currently serves as an Advisory Data Scientist for Cox Automotive in Atlanta. The couple’s son, David Monteleone, graduated from Drexel in with a BS in computer science with a focus in gaming in 2016 and is now a principal computer scientist/scrum master at Northrup Grumman in Huntsville, Alabama.
Monteleone began his pursuit of engineering while at Holy Cross High School in Delran, NJ where he grew up. While at Holy Cross, he elected to take four years studying mechanical and architectural drafting. Upon graduation in 1979, he attended Burlington County Community College for one year, after which he was drawn to the co-op program at Drexel and transferred.
“The idea of coupling my education with work was important,” he says. “Back then, Drexel was thought of as the working man’s college because of the co-op program.” He completed two co-ops at Hill International, a construction and risk management firm in Willingboro, NJ.
Excited about the cutting-edge geosynthetic work of Emeritus Professor of Civil Engineering, Robert Koerner, ’56 ‘63MS, Monteleone decided to pursue a master’s degree in the study of geotechnical/geosynthetics engineering. His thesis examined the puncture and impact resistance of geosynthetic materials.
Monteleone commented that his interest in geology is probably connected to his love of hiking. “I’ve always liked natural environments,” he says. “I like to understand how mountain ranges are formed and how we interact with the natural environment....I enjoyed learning about geology, geotechnical and geosynthetic engineering. It was fascinating to me.”
After he obtained his master’s degree, Monteleone worked at a variety of companies, both large and small, but always kept a focus on landfill design and construction as well as environmental remediation. He was an adjunct professor at Drexel for three years teaching a graduate level course in Landfill Design. He has been involved in a wide variety of projects including: the cleanup of environmental issues at former army installations Fort Gillem and Fort McPherson; the designs and implementation of remediation plans at several Superfund sites (including Marjol Battery, which suffered lead-contaminated soil from the Marjol facility in Throop, PA); and the forensic investigation of a California failed hazardous waste geosynthetic liner system. Projects have ranged in value from $20,000 to $8 million.
Monteleone’s work continues to “lean on everything I learned at Drexel,” he says. He adds that he enjoys it because “I have the ability to make a difference in the environment and help the community.”
In 2011, he joined Oasis Consulting Services, which currently has 57 employees, seeking a smaller company where he could have a larger impact. Since then Monteleone has continued to work on solid and hazardous waste landfill projects, but he has also expanded his focus to include Federal Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) projects.
“Drexel,” he says, “was foundational. It was absolutely critical to the success of my career. If I had not gotten the advice from my undergraduate professors while at Drexel, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today.”
By Lini S. Kadaba