Written by Carole Gieseke – Chief Communications Officer, Iowa State University Alumni Association
Photography by Jim Heemstra
But Carroll native Justin Ahmann (’05 civil engineering) and his wife, Laura, were deliberate about where they wanted to live.
Laura is originally from California but went to college in Montana. The two met in Omaha, Neb., when Justin was working as a civil engineer for the Union Pacific Railroad and Laura was going to medical school. They spent three years living in Virginia.
“We belong in the west,” he says, citing the proximity to water, mountains, and national parks. “If I’m going to live somewhere this far from home, it should be worth it.”
Justin’s career in civil engineering has already been far-reaching, from working with bridge hydraulics for Union Pacific to mining and power-plant waste in Virginia to his current position as director of engineering for APEC engineering, where he works with water rights issues, utilities, dams, and municipal districts to expand and modify their sewer and water systems.
Graduating from Iowa State, Justin says he “had more opportunities than I knew what to do with.” In fact, he says, he didn’t know how good Iowa State’s education was until he traveled around the country and met people from other schools. He quickly found opportunities in Virginia when Laura chose that state for her medical residency. And when they decided to move to Montana, it took him just six weeks to find a job.
Justin and Laura live on 10 acres in Kalispell; they have two sons under the age of 3.
“We could go to the big city and see a lot of [career] opportunities,” he says, “but we kind of passed on that to have a simpler life. We wanted our kids to grow up here.”
The story was written as part of the ISU Alumni Association’s 3-year VISIONS Across America project and first appeared here.