HGI's newest Fire Protection Engineer Matt Isaacs, with wife, Amanda, and daughter, Emma.
HGI’s newest Fire Protection Engineer Matt Isaacs, with wife, Amanda, and daughter, Emma.

It all started with a middle school aptitude test. Matt Isaacs knew as a kid that math and science were his strengths, and somewhere around age 12, he took a test that advised him to consider a career in civil engineering. Inspired by that and a childhood of tinkering with and fixing his own bikes and skateboards, Isaacs attended a high school program at North Carolina State University (NCSU), where he got his first taste of college-level engineering classes.

“I decided then that I didn’t want to be a civil engineer,” he says. “But nuclear struck me as unique and interesting.”

Isaacs went on to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering at NCSU, which led him to a career in the mechanical engineering department at a nuclear plant in his hometown of Charlotte, NC. Like a lot of folks in this industry, he kind of stumbled into fire the fire protection engineering realm.

“Part of that mechanical engineering group covered fire protection, and it was just by sheer coincidence that I got assigned to it,” he says.

Nuclear engineering had always struck him as interesting, but after the nuclear industry took a hit following the Fukushima disaster in 2011, he says he started thinking about taking his engineering career in a different direction.

“I’d known for a while that I wanted to get out of nuclear fire protection and into the more traditional side of it,” he says. “I enjoyed the codes and standards aspect of it, and the prescriptive approach that existed out there. It’s a unique field, and I decided that I wanted to make that my niche. The industry is constantly evolving, and because of that there’s always something to learn and grow and try to help solve problems in different areas.”

In 2014 he graduated from the University of Maryland with a Master’s degree in fire protection engineering, and before joining us here at Harrington Group he worked for Parsons Corporation.

Isaacs’ first official day with Harrington Group was Monday, April 4. He’s working out of the Charlotte office, which allows him and his wife Amanda to stay in Charlotte to raise their 21-month-old daughter Emma. He also happens to be the secretary of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers Carolina Chapter, but his interests do go beyond engineering. When he isn’t working he’s hanging out with his family, playing disc golf, or training for 50k trail races—yes, you read that correctly. He runs 50 kilometers at a time for fun!