2022 40 Under 40: Jesse P. Heimowitz

Aug. 23, 2022
Jesse P. Heimowitz, CCM, Vice President of Rail Transit, Tectonic Engineering

One word to describe yourself: Passionate 

Alma Mater: Polytechnic University (current-day NYU Tandon School of Engineering), Brooklyn, NY 

Fun fact about yourself: I was part of Progressive Railroading magazine’s first class of Rising Star awardees in 2014 and I volunteer for both AREMA (on Technical Committee 11 – Commuter & Intercity Rail Systems) and the Construction Management of America (as both a Lead Trainer for their Professional Construction Management course as well as a member of their Professional Development Committee).   

Favorite station or stop that you have ever visited or frequent (and why): Grand Central Station, hands down.  The history, the hidden passages, the architectural beauty and the fact that the largest infrastructure project in America is happening right below your feet!  What isn’t there to love about it? 

Favorite route you have ever ridden or frequent (and why): Amtrak / Metro North Railroad’s Hudson Line during the late afternoon in the fall.  The views of the water, the foliage and the sky with a setting sun while riding in the comfort of a train is a unique and peaceful experience. 

Jesse Heimowitz’s career in engineering and project management has seen continuous upward momentum and progression. From his start as a project coordinator at the MTA’s Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) in 2008, he expeditiously achieved management status and led several major high-profile and complex rail infrastructure projects as part of LIRR’s Capital Program Management group. This included the management of bridge replacement, station upgrade, drainage improvement and facility upgrade design and construction projects. His career with LIRR culminated as a director of special projects, making him the youngest manager to be promoted to a director position in the history of the Capital Program Management department. In this role, he provided executive management leadership on more than $2 billion worth of capital program projects. These projects included the Jamaica Capacity Improvements Program and the Van Wyck Expressway Capacity Improvements Program.  

During his time at LIRR, he affected an immense amount of positive change to the organization, including tireless evaluation of best-value and value-engineering solutions on each of his projects, championing alternative project delivery methods, forming effective partnerships with all departments and divisions to ensure successful project delivery and providing technical leadership and guidance on several transformation committees. His role on the committees helped usher in a new organizational structure for capital program management across all the MTA agencies, including the authoring of several revised procedures and technical specifications in use today.  

Heimowitz also volunteered for several emergency management needs such as the response to Hurricane Sandy and other extreme weather events to get the railroad operational post-impact. As a manager of people, Heimowitz provided mentoring and guidance to his staff and constantly supported their desire to become more knowledgeable in the rail transit field by placing them in roles in which they can be challenged and learn new skills.  

Currently, Heimowitz is the associate vice president of rail transit at Tectonic Engineering where he serves as the division lead of the company’s newly established rail transit sector. His addition to the team in 2021 has brought a new-founded focus to this important and technically complex business line. Over the past several months, Heimowitz has provided his rail subject matter expertise and industry relationships to more than double the rail transit related contract pursuits, form new partnerships with other local and national engineering and construction management firms and spearhead business development activities with a multitude of local rail transit clients. He is currently leading the pursuit of tens of millions of dollars in professional services pursuits and contracts for transit and commuter rail authorities such as LIRR, Metro North Railroad, New York City Transit Subway, New Jersey Transit and Connecticut Department of Transportation's Rail Department. In a short time, he has revamped the company's approach to rail projects using his industry expertise, performed a full coordination of services across all the business lines to strengthen and grown the rail transit business line offerings. 

He is also passionate about giving back to the industry through professional organization volunteering as a voting member of AREMA Technical Committee 11 (commuter and intercity rail systems), a member of Construction Management Association of America’s (CMAA) Professional Development Committee and a lead trainer of CMAA’s Professional Construction Management course. He is also a Certified Construction Manager (CCM) and a CMAA mentor for young construction management professionals on track to achieve their CMM certification.  

Heimowitz is also a recipient of a Progressive Railroading "Rising Star" award, as well as several ACEC, ASCE and CMAA "Project of the Year" awards.   

Is there a specific experience that led you to where you are today? 

Growing up in Queens, NY, I lived in an apartment building above the NYC Subway and within earshot of the Long Island Rail Road.  The subway was a part of my daily travel to/from school through my college years and, as I grew older, I became more fascinated by the technical aspects of how it all worked. Curiosity eventually got the best of me and, now, I’m lucky enough to have made a career out of my passion for all things transit. 

What do you enjoy most about your job?   

The ability to think critically, the fact that every day brings a new challenge and the opportunity to learn something new, and the ability to affect positive changes in the lives of hundreds of thousands of NYC-area rail transit commuters resulting from the projects I get to be a part of. 

What’s the most challenging part of your job?   

Devising ways to complete complex and challenging transit design/construction projects around aging infrastructure with limited impact to the riding public. 

Accomplishment you’re most proud of and why?   

It’s a tie between being able to join my current company as its vice presidentof Rail Transit and starting its rail practice from the ground up (a job I thought I wouldn’t be able to achieve until my later years in the industry), and the 13-plus years I spent successfully executing award-winning multi-million-dollar capital projects for the Long Island Rail Road. 

Best advice/tip/best practice to share from your area of expertise?   

Be humble and learn from others!  Some of the most valuable knowledge I’ve gained as a rail transit professional has come from spending time with rail transit boots-on-the-ground labor forces and understanding what they do and how they do it.  Building that real-world knowledge into each design and construction project I manage has been an invaluable benefit to those assignments.