2017 Airport Business Top 40 Under 40: Shawn J. Murphy, P.E.

Nov. 3, 2017

Shawn J. Murphy, P.E.
Project Manager at HNTB Corp.
AGE: 37 

  • Alma Mater: University of Illinois at Chicago
  • What is your dream job? I’m really enjoying the challenge of my current role as Construction Phase Services Lead for the Runway 9C-27C design team at ORD. It’s a great mix of management, design, and construction on a very large and complex project. Eventually though I’d like to get into infrastructure economics.
  • If I could go anywhere, it would be: My wife and I love to travel and we benefit from living near two great airports (ORD and MDW), so we’ve seen quite a bit already but high on our travel list are Argentina, Iceland, and New Zealand.
  • If I could have dinner with anyone living or dead: I would like to have dinner with Bill Murray, living or dead.
  • Favorite airport restaurant/eatery: The Berghoff Café, in O’Hare Terminal 1, Concourse C. Great German food and beer from a landmark Chicago restaurant.

Shawn Murphy was always around construction while growing up. His dad was a carpenter who worked with his brother, so Murphy said he garnered an interest in engineering as he grew.

His mother worked for American Airlines and the family would often travel to Ireland to visit family, so a keen interest was also building for Murphy.

“Airports connect people,” Murphy said. “In the age of social media, people feel connected, but airports are what actually physically connect people.”

When Murphy was finishing his civil engineering degree at the University of Illinois Chicago, he earned a job offer via an internship he had to become a structural engineer in bridge design and construction.

However, the O’Hare Modernization Program was kicking off at that time and Murphy was offered the opportunity to work on one of the marquee runway projects, which brought him into the aviation realm.

The Runway 10L-28R Extension was the first major runway project completed. It opened 56 days ahead of schedule and $33 million under budget and its design garnered an Honor Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois.

Some of Murphy’s other accomplishments include developing the pavement design for a new assault landing zone runway at Lakehurst Naval Air Engineering Station in Lakehurst, New Jersey; completion of a pavement design and pavement management course with the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs; and contributing to an airfield lighting study at Midway International Airport (MDW).

Murphy has served in nearly a dozen different leadership roles with the American Society of Civil Engineers, most recently as director of the ASCE Illinois Section, and was honored as its Young Civil Engineer of the Year in 2012. For the last 14 years Murphy has served as a regional coordinator for the Future City Competition, an education outreach program that introduces junior high school students to STEM career paths.

He has also served as a judge for the Underwriters Laboratories Innovative Education Award, which supports STEM education programs with grant money. Through his involvement with Engineers Without Borders-USA, Shawn has volunteered hundreds of hours of his time to design, coordinate, and construct a series of bridge and water infrastructure projects in Central America.