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Testing the water after graduation, Engineering alumni excels

Story by
Kwame Manu
Charlie Martin, Ph.D.

Charlie L. Martin is a husband, father and civil engineer in the Florida Panhandle city of Graceville. In 2015, Martin walked across the stage of Florida A&M University’s Al Lawson Center to receive his Ph.D. in civil engineering from the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering. The alum has focused his career in the municipal water and wastewater utility field and has been active since 1992. 

Martin has been Graceville’s water/wastewater director since 2000. He also lectures at the University of Florida Training, Research and Education for Environmental Occupations center (UF TREEO), teaching courses relative to water quality for over 12 years. For the past 16 years, Martin has also served as a member of the operator certification committee for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

Martin has been recognized by several organizations over his career. This year, UF TREEO awarded Martin the Leroy Scott Award for displaying exceptional skill in wastewater plant operations. In 2015, the Big Bend Chapter of the Florida Water Environment Association (FWEA) selected him to receive the Thomas P. Smith Award based on his leadership and technical skill.

About the success achieved so far in his career, Martin is grateful for his alma mater. He credits his proficiency involving the operation and process control for water and wastewater facilities to the education acquired at the college. Without this education, Martin believes would not have attained the prestige he has earned.

FAMU-FSU Engineering’s quality education isn’t the only attribute that left an impression on Martin. He highly values the racial diversity inside the four walls of the school.

“[At most universities] you tend not to see many minorities, especially young black males that are actually studying and choosing a career path that you’ve chosen,” Martin said. “At the college, seeing so many minorities, especially young black males, was encouraging as well as inspiring.”

Martin recalls how rewarding it was to forge relationships with other minority students that shared a similar path while on his journey to a Ph.D. Sharing a similar environment as other black engineers framed his long-term goal of graduate as more realistic and achievable than improbable, and helped him feel less isolated. Finding an oasis of comfort in the midst of the hardships of graduate school while maintaining work and a family motivated Martin to persevere while striving toward his goal.