CEE senior Charles Blalock spent a few Saturdays a year from the time he was five or six visiting construction job sites at his family’s engineering firm, Charles Blalock & Sons, Inc., based in Sevierville, Tennessee. He credits this off-and-on exposure to roadway and bridge construction as the biggest reason he got hooked on construction and civil engineering from a very young age and came to UT to pursue a degree.
After graduation, Charles hopes to follow in the footsteps of his father Doug Blalock, his grandfather Bryan Blalock, and his great-grandfather Charles Blalock, as well as his great uncle Sid Blalock to continue the over 60-year old family business. All of the Blalocks are graduates of UT’s civil and environmental engineering program.
Doug Blalock (CEE ’91) is thrilled his son will soon get a chance to begin working with the company. While in school, he also found excellent mentoring from professors Ed Burdette, Hal Deatherage, Alec Moore, and others.
“You could say they ‘concreted’ my desire to enter the civil engineering field for a career,” he said.
Charles’s concentrations include transportation and construction engineering with a minor in business administration from the Haslam College of Business. In addition to family mentorship, he recalls the excellent high school teachers who instilled a love of learning that nurtured his interest in using math to solve real-world problems.
“My AP calculus teacher was Huguette Williams, a legend at Sevier County High School who made calculus fun and helped to inspire me to always approach problems with an open mind and a can-do attitude,” he said. “My physics teacher was Dr. Suzanne South who battled (and defeated) breast cancer while teaching me basic physics. We performed some thought-provoking labs and she really got me interested in the math behind how everything in our world moves or stays still.”
Doug says that because civil engineering has a broad range of areas that impact society, there’s never a dull moment. “But that’s the greatest benefit too,” he said. “And the broad range of people I’ve met and the problems we’ve solved that have made our East Tennessee Region a better and safer place to live.”
For now, Charles wants to be a project manager on roadway and site construction projects.
He’s also interested in other concentrations within CEE, especially transportation, structural, and geotechnical engineering. Ultimately, he wants to help complete construction projects on-time and on-budget so East Tennessee’s infrastructure can be upgraded to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century and beyond.
“Working for my family business will allow me to accomplish that mission and help everyday people in the area of the world I love most,” he said.
The elder Blalock is also happy that his middle child, Lila, who is a first-year student at UT in the Department of Animal Science is pursuing a minor in environmental engineering.
“That’s very exciting to my wife Lori and I because if being a farm vet doesn’t work out, she could also enter the family business with the amount of environmental work we are associated with,” he said.
And he could not be more pleased that Charles will soon be working for him full-time.
“I’m very proud of Charles’s appreciation for the positive impact civil engineering can make on our society and his desire to work in our family business to make those impacts,” he said. “I hope he will find it as rewarding as I have, with the amount of cool and interesting people and projects he will be involved with over his career.”