An illustrious 38-year engineering and management career has kept Wylie Bearup as a central figure in public and private construction in the Southwest. The retired Army lieutenant colonel and city of Phoenix engineer has worked on projects around the globe. He spearheaded the transformation of downtown Phoenix and how the state of Arizona looks at construction delivery methods. Most recently, he has taken on a new challenge to pass on his wealth of knowledge to a new generation of construction professionals.
"He is a fantastic leader," says Kyle Kotchou, deputy aviation director for the city of Phoenix, who nominated Bearup for the Legacy Award due to the impact he has made on the construction industry in Arizona and beyond.
A Call to Duty
Born into a copper mining family in Miami, Ariz., Bearup wanted to become an engineer at an early age. He realized that dream by joining the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) and attending the University of Arizona in Tucson, where he received a degree in civil engineering.
"I had an interest in math and science and how things worked, so I got into civil engineering as a major for my undergraduate," Bearup says. He received his degree from UA in 1976.
"Since I had accepted an Army ROTC scholarship to go to college, I owed the Army five years of active duty," he says. "After being in that commitment for three or four years, I decided to go back to graduate school, and the Army sent me back to get a master's [degree] in civil engineering. Again, I owed them a commitment for having gone to school and went back on active duty."
By then, Bearup had been in the Army for over a decade, and so he decided to stay in the Army as a career.
In the early 1990s, Bearup pursued a Ph.D in construction management while he was on active duty and received his Ph.D. in 1995.
Bearup worked for the Los Angeles district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and was part of numerous large-scale projects, including the $2.2-billion Santa Ana Mainstem Flood Control Project in Southern California. He also worked on the approximately $250-million Red Rock flood control system in Las Vegas and the Seven Oaks Dam, a $700-million project in the San Bernardino mountains.