Alumni Spotlight: William Searles

William Searles, a Cal Poly Alumni, graduated in 2006 with a bachelor of science in Civil Engineering with a structural emphasis, and a Spanish minor. William came across Kiewit at the Fall Job Fair during his senior year. He received great mentorship from a geotechnical professor at the time, Jay Donatelli, who advised him to take a job in construction.

“He told me that construction is demanding and requires long hours offset by higher pay in comparison to other engineering fields. However, most importantly, should I try it and not find it to be the right fit, I will have gained invaluable experience in knowing what it takes to build a job.”

Now, William Searles serves as Vice President with leadership over Kiewit’s design-build water/waster water market across the United States. His specialization in the development of design-build water and wastewater projects with an emphasis on regulatory approvals, design, and the seamless, and efficient integration of design and construction has given him the opportunity to be at the forefront of technological advances. Several notable projects of his have been: The Carlsbad Desalination Project which is the largest desalination project in the western hemisphere supplying 50 gallons a day of potable water to San Diego County, the Sustainable Water Infrastructure Project which is the first progressive design-build delivery for the city of Santa Monica, and lastly the North Hollywood Central and Tujunga Well Field Response Action Treatment Facilities which was a groundwater remediation project to restore the San Fernando Groundwater Basin and deliver potable water to Los Angeles. 

Before William Searles became a notable figure in the industry, he was a Cal Poly student who loved participating in the intramural sports program, especially softball and soccer. Outside of class, he spent most of his time surfing along the Central Coast’s rugged shoreline, and according to him, although the tri-tip is the gold standard, his go-to at Firestone Grill was the tacos. 

To conclude, William Searles fondly recalls his time at Cal Poly, “Cal Poly truly provided a wonderful foundation for my career. It taught me to think critically, to understand the engineering and mathematical theory behind the equations, and how to apply those principles.


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