CEE Giving: John Kovacs
Building Relationships Through Service and Giving
When CEE Alumni Advisory Council member John Kovacs (BS ‘93) needs inspiration or to clear his mind, a drive to Carnegie Mellon and a walk around campus will change his headspace. “There’s so much history at Carnegie Mellon. Yet there’s this collision with technology and innovation and so much promise for the future,” he says. “Every time I return to campus, I feel that same excitement and rejuvenation and wonder.”
This unique environment is a large part of why Kovacs has been devoting his time and energy to giving back to his alma mater for what is now nearly two decades. In fact, this is Kovacs’ second time on the Alumni Advisory Council; he was among the first group of CEE alumni to join when it was founded in the early 2000s. He has also served on the University Alumni Association Board of Directors.
“One of the most impactful things about the University is the diversity of the community, of the people, of the thoughts, and of the broad range of academic opportunity,” he reflects. “It was true when I was a student and it’s true today.”
“There are a lot of ways to engage with the University, and I’ve built so many great relationships through being involved with the CEE and Carnegie Mellon communities. I do it as much to enrich myself as I do to give back. I personally think I get more out of it than I give.”
Over the years, Kovacs has attended job fairs and spoken at student group meetings, career advice roundtables, and many other events. He was the practitioner advisor to the American Society of Civil Engineers student chapter for several years. His family also loves visiting the school, especially for the Spring Carnival buggy races— and his daughter thinks she too wants to attend Carnegie Mellon. Kovacs, who is employed by Gannet Fleming, also connected his firm to the University via research collaborations with CEE faculty. Carnegie Mellon also created and delivered the company’s internal leadership development program.
“There are a lot of ways to engage with the University, and I’ve built so many great relationships through being involved with the CEE and Carnegie Mellon communities,” he says. “I do it as much to enrich myself as I do to give back. I personally think I get more out of it than I give.”
At Gannett Fleming, Kovacs is Executive Vice President and Earth Sciences Business Group Director. As a Business Group Director, he provides strategic leadership for the firm’s geotechnical, dams, hydraulics, environmental, and water engineering services. He also serves on the company’s Board of Directors.
“Carnegie Mellon set for me a foundation for learning and problem solving,” he says. “I’ve had a wonderful career, and I was given a lot of opportunities to do a lot of different things. I think it’s that foundation that I got at Carnegie Mellon that gave me the confidence and the inspiration to pursue those opportunities.”