A longtime trailblazer at the South Florida Water Management District, Householder will support the collection of geospatial data for applications that include disaster mitigation, coastal resilience and habitat conservation.
West Palm Beach, Fla. (May 2, 2022) — Woolpert has hired Rick Householder as a geospatial program director to advance multiple topographic, bathymetric and hydrographic mapping and surveying efforts in Florida. Householder is an award-winning GIS leader who has spent nearly three decades advancing Florida’s geospatial capabilities.
Householder worked as a scientist, geographer and geospatial section leader for the South Florida Water Management District from 1996-2022. He was responsible for GIS mapping, remote sensing and helping develop a drone program and geospatial applications to support the mission of SFWMD, which covers 16 counties and is the state’s largest water management district. In 2016, Householder and his team won the Esri Special Achievement in GIS Award for bringing together GIS information and staff to make one integrated and powerful unit.
Collaboration was a constant throughout Householder’s tenure at SFWMD, where he adopted geospatial tools, technologies and protocols, and worked with local, state and federal government officials to improve everything from emergency response and regulatory enforcement to tracking python infestations in the Everglades and creating web-based and mobile applications to evaluate blue-green algae and sea level rise.
“Geospatial science has shifted its focus to resilience and how companies like Woolpert can partner with state and federal agencies to combat the disastrous impact of climate change,” Householder said. “When governments have precise and up-to-date topo-bathy lidar and hydrographic data, they can make the kinds of decisions that will save lives and livelihoods. Everything we do in engineering and science relies on accurate measurements and modeling. I wanted to join Woolpert because the firm is established, professional and known for its extreme accuracy—so much so that its staff has been integral to the development of geospatial data standards.”
Householder said he became interested in remote sensing, aerial mapping and geology during his first job as an airship electronic technician and environmental specialist aboard the Goodyear Blimp, where he observed various landforms and features from the air while covering sporting events across the country. He earned his bachelor’s degree in geology and master’s degree in geography and GIS. Householder has advanced the geospatial industry professionally and in the classroom by teaching GIS, remote sensing and environmental science at Florida Atlantic University, Palm Beach State College and Nova Southeastern University over the last 23 years. He said helping students become informed colleagues has been enormously rewarding.
“Nobody has to twist your arm to go into the geospatial industry—it’s an exciting field that develops and integrates futuristic technologies,” he said. “Less than 20 years ago, Google Maps was science fiction, and just 10 years ago mapping areas and features with drones was not even on the horizon. Now we are mapping the seafloor with lasers and collecting hyperspectral imagery and lidar data via drones around the world. I love it, and I love sharing the immense value and limitless applications of this data with my students.”
Woolpert Vice President Darius Hensley said Householder is an invaluable addition to Woolpert’s geospatial team in Florida, where current, high-resolution elevation data are imperative to disaster preparedness and mitigation.
“We have worked with Rick for many years, and we have seen his ability to utilize geospatial data in Florida for flood-risk management, coastal resilience efforts, habitat conservation and so much more,” Hensley said. “He knows firsthand how the region has grown and how that affects land use and land cover, impacting floodplains, evacuation routes, etc. We’re excited to work with him and to provide the resources needed to protect people, infrastructure and investments throughout the state.”
Woolpert is the premier architecture, engineering, geospatial (AEG) and strategic consulting firm, with a vision to become one of the best companies in the world. We innovate within and across markets to effectively serve public, private and government clients worldwide. Woolpert is an ENR Top 150 Global Design Firm, has earned six straight Great Place to Work certifications and actively nurtures a culture of growth, inclusion, diversity and respect. Founded in 1911 in Dayton, Ohio, Woolpert has been America’s fastest-growing AEG firm since 2015. The firm has 1,900 employees and more than 60 offices on four continents. For more, visit woolpert.com.