GCC alum Thomas W. Bean III builds project of a lifetime

November 18, 2009

Greenfield Community College alumnus and Greenfield native Thomas W. Bean III’s 30-year engineering career has included a number of large projects and award-winning work for Verizon Communications, now he’s working on the project of a lifetime.

Tom took an early retirement from Verizon three and a half years ago and currently works for the Army Corps of Engineers as the senior engineer in charge of building two high-rise office buildings in the $1 billion Department of Defense (DOD) BRAC 133 office complex, Alexandria, Virginia. The office complex will include 1.75 million square feet of office space for 6,400 Department of Defense employees. When completed in September 2011, it will be a critical addition to our national security portfolio.

Bean is the Resident Engineer in charge of construction daily operations, quality assurance and safety. He and his team enforce schedule, budget, safety, and all terms and conditions of the construction contract with the design-build contractor. The 15- and 17-story buildings will include state of the art building technologies and are being built to meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Gold standards for green building construction. Under Bean’s supervision, the large construction project has an excellent safety record with only one “loss-time” accident in over 458,000 man hours to date. Bean said, “I’m thrilled to be doing this work. I have to pinch myself everyday to remind myself it is real. I never thought I’d work on such an important project. Most people don’t get to do this in their lifetime. This isn’t just any office building, it is a significant, state of the art, high-tech building that will be key to the work of the Department of Defense.”

Bean has come a long way since his difficult school days at Greenfield High School. With an undiagnosed learning disability, Bean failed his senior year of high school the first time around. After finally graduating from high school and with no expectation of going to college, Bean enlisted in the Army. While serving in the Army from 1965-68, Bean decided to try college. He enrolled at GCC in 1968. Bean says his success as an engineer got its start in Dr. Peck’s calculus class at Greenfield Community College. GCC’s faculty helped him develop good study skills and confidence in his academic abilities. Bean remembers Dr. Peck as a great inspiration who told his classes to “get tough.” Bean graduated with a liberal arts associate’s degree from GCC in 1970 and went on to study engineering at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In 1973, Bean graduated magna cum laude in civil engineering from the University of Massachusetts. In 1982, he received a master’s in Civil/Structural Engineering from Northeastern University. Bean is a registered Professional Engineer in both civil and structural engineering in Massachusetts and Vermont.

In 2002, GCC recognized Bean with the GCC Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award. Bean was nominated for that award by his brother, John Bean, Greenfield’s former public works superintendent. In the nomination, John Bean said “I believe that GCC was pivotal in turning his life around. They gave him the chance that no other collegiate institution would. GCC helped him identify that he had a natural aptitude for math and he even helped other students through the GCC tutoring program.” The GCC Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award is given annually to an alumnus “who has contributed to his or her community in an altruistic and exemplary way and risen to prominence in his or her industry or profession.”

Bean worked for Verizon from 1979-2006, receiving two Verizon Excellence Awards for his work. For projects worked on by Bean and the company’s Energy Team, Verizon received the federal Energy Star Award for Corporate Commitment and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Protection award. Prior to working on the Department of Defense project,

Bean’s Army Corps of Engineers work included being the engineer in charge of construction at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, AZ and the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Georgia.

For information about the construction project, visit: http://alexandriava.gov/planning/info/default.aspx?id=17380&terms=brac