When Rod Rue was named the “2021 Engineer of the Year” during last month’s City Engineers Association of Minnesota annual conference, it came as a surprise—at least for him.
The Eden Prairie city engineer’s family knew. They were hiding in the back, waiting for the big reveal.
His co-workers did, too. He joked that his “boss” Robert Ellis, the city’s public works director, made sure Rue didn’t leave for a bathroom break during the announcement.
“It was a little humbling; well, a lot humbling,” Rue said. “I don’t think I deserved it. But it’s voted on by your peers, and that means a lot. The video they (showed was done by the city). There were a lot of nice things said about me (in the video) from the mayor, the city manager, my boss and several co-workers and peers. It was very touching and meant a lot to me.”
Helping to shape the city
In a posting on the city’s website announcing Rue’s honor, the longtime city employee was praised for helping shape Eden Prairie from a farm community of 15,000 residents to a thriving suburb of nearly 65,000 residents.
Rue has worked for the city since 1980. He began as a construction inspector before becoming a design engineer, then assistant city engineer.
“There are a lot of things you have your fingers on,” Rue said. “It’s always rewarding to see those projects get built and people enjoy them and enjoy the infrastructure and enjoy the environment.”
Rue is “99 percent” positive Ellis nominated him. (Nominations typically come from “peers or someone in your organization,” Rue explained.)
Ellis said several people were involved in Rue’s nomination. All felt Rue was more than deserving of the distinction, he added.
“Rod has crossed paths with so many individuals over his 40-plus years at the city, and many of them came out to voice their appreciation for his unyielding professionalism throughout his entire career,” Ellis said. “Eden Prairie has been extremely fortunate to have him as our city engineer.”
In its posting, the city described Rue’s honor as “capping an incredible 42-year career.”
“There were a few funny things people said (at the conference),” he said. “It felt like a retirement. When I got up, I said, ‘I’m not retiring yet, but maybe soon.’ It’s getting close.”
Rue said Eden Prairie is a great place to work.
“People during interviews often ask why we like working here,” he said. “There’s always a pretty common theme that it’s a great place to work. The community is good; the city council has been good, the administration, the city manager, the department head. Everybody does quality work. It’s been a great community to work for.”
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