Employee Spotlight

Employee Spotlight – Sean Rennau

Employee Spotlight – Sean Rennau

At Austin Engineering, we are continually proud of the work of our team of expert engineers. However, not all of our team get the recognition they deserve! To this end, Austin Engineering is highlighting some of our most enthusiastic and hardworking team members in an effort to say “thank you” for the incredible work they’ve contributed. And for this month’s Employee Spotlight, we’d like to thank Sean Rennau, a civil engineer and landscape architect for Austin Engineering’s main office.

Sean’s Career

Sean Rennau first started his career with Austin Engineering in 2015. Having earned his Bachelor’s in Landscape Architecture in 2003 from the University of Illinois, it wasn’t until 2012 that Sean continued his academic pursuits. Fresh off earning another Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering from Bradley University, Sean jumped into a short-term internship as a structural engineer, eventually transitioning to working full-time for Austin Engineering!

Now approaching a decade with Austin Engineering, Sean continues to impress through careful attention to site design that creates harmony between the structures and land development. Working as a landscape architect and civil engineer, Sean has the opportunity to lead and listen to project owners and developers and work with engineers, architects, artists, and contractors in pursuit of the optimal development of utilities, structures, spaces, and habitats. Sean’s love of nature and desire to improve the human condition has influenced much of his design work. This influence is apparent in Sean’s implementation of beautiful custom fountains, rain gardens, natural fauna, and eco-friendly stormwater management designs into many of his site and land development projects.

Sean’s Favorite Projects

  • The Foundry in Bloomington – “I loved working through the design process for this unique, sustainably conscious shopping center site, and it turned out great! To help connect the site to the architecture, I suggested weathered steel for some of the vertical elements in the courtyard. I love weathered steel because it turns a nice, cinnamon-brown color that pairs well with the copper-colored bark of some exfoliating trees we dotted throughout the courtyard. It was also an interesting project because the site we built on was a heavily polluted lot. It felt good to breathe some life back into the site and to use a matrix of permeable pavements and native plants to help filter the stormwater runoff from the parking lots.”
  • Residential Landscape Design in Peoria – “We recently won a Platinum and Gold award from the Illinois Landscape Contractors Association for a high-end residential project. The client desired a Medieval European-style formal garden for their residence. The site is situated on a river bluff that allowed for the creation of a series of formal terraces to traverse the backyard hillside. The first terrace that we created is the Fountain Parterre Garden. We envisioned the focal point of this garden to be a large-scale, one-of-a-kind, hand-carved three-tier limestone fountain. To push things even further, I developed a concept for the stone carvings to be accented with ornate bronze sculptures. The design walked a fine line between using authentic medieval gothic design principles and evoking a timeless sense of reality. And I believe we achieved this timeless ambiance with our design. Hearing the client rave and celebrate over their completed garden and fountain was without a doubt the apex of the project.”

What Inspired Your Career Choice?

“I’ve always enjoyed creative problem-solving and the outdoors’ natural beauty. And landscape architecture and civil engineering combine the best of everything I love. Specifically, my love of architecture is where I started my professional journey. However, after working in the field early on, I quickly found myself appreciating that niche between architecture and civil engineering and learning to view the site as a whole.”

What’s Some Advice for New Engineers?

“Be a leader, pursue your passions and don’t let the process defeat you. The growing pains of the profession can sometimes affect your passion, but it’s important you stay focused and understand you’re always going to keep improving if you stay determined and put the effort in.”

Getting to Know Sean

Early Life: Sean grew up hiking, playing in the mud, and living his best life outdoors. In much of Sean’s early life, he was influenced by family members who had a penchant for gardening and spending time outdoors. Additional influence came from his time spent working in the construction, roofing, and landscaping industries.

Present Day: Sean is married to his beautiful wife and enjoys raising and spending time with his stepson. Sean’s family also consists of many, many pets, with Sean being an avid animal lover.

Hobbies: In his spare time, Sean is a beekeeper. At home, Sean likes to keep between 15 to 20 hives a year. Related to his hobby, Sean is also the President of the Heart of Illinois Beekeeper Association.

Fun Facts and Questions:

What’s your favorite music? – “I like all genres, but I especially like classic rock! So, anything from the ‘50s through the early 2000s. Some of my favorite bands are Van Halen, Soundgarden, and Audioslave. It’s a long story, but I’ve been fortunate enough to record a song with Tom Morello, the lead guitarist for Audioslave.”

What’s your favorite vacation spot? – “Maui, Hawaii! I’ve been there several times. It’s all rainbows, butterflies, beautiful beaches (for the novice surfer), delicious foods, and comfortable temperatures. There’s always a nice breeze and always plenty of shade. So, sun lovers can do their thing, and I can find a nice shady palm tree and sip my rum. It’s amazing, and I highly recommend going.”

If you could choose a Superpower, what would it be and why? – “That’s an easy question. Flight! For one, you’d never have to pay for airline tickets again! My spirit animal is a paragon falcon, so that’s another reason I’d choose that superpower. And who wouldn’t want to fly?”

Thank You, Sean, for your near decade of service with Austin Engineering! Your passion and love of nature have helped create some truly breathtaking (and award-winning) designs!