According to James (Jim) Hoey ’84 CE, it’s a given in his family that civil engineering is the career of choice, and that and that WPI is the only logical path. With two years left before retirement as a Massachusetts Department of Transportation assistant construction engineer for district two, Jim recalls how his father, Frank Hoey Jr. ’49 CE, discouraged him from applying to other schools.

“He said if I didn’t get accepted at WPI, I might as well just go get a job and not waste my time and his money attending another institution. In the Hoey family, attending WPI for civil engineering was always Plan A.”

With older brother Mark ’76 CE and younger brother Fran ’89 CE to follow, the WPI tradition easily shifted gears into the second generation. But it wasn’t always easy for Fran III, senior vice president at Tighe & Bond. He admits that he, like most undergrads, found it challenging to seek a balance between a social life and a heavy course load in a competitive environment during his first two years—never mind the reputation of his own family to uphold.

“During my junior and senior years, I was able to focus a bit more and was recognized with the Carl F. Meyer Award for my efforts,” he says.

Two of Fran’s three children are also following in the WPI tradition—Connor ’18 CE works with Stantec on heavy infrastructure design/construction projects, and the youngest, Lindsay ’24, is entering her freshman year.

When asked for highlights from his time at WPI, Connor replied enthusiastically that there were too many to count—but his IQP in Melbourne, Australia, was definitely a high point. “My dad came to visit at the end of my term, and I got to share my home for the past three months with him and show off everything I had done on my IQP,” he says. Other highlights include seeing his family in the stands at Homecoming football games, earning the Provost’s MQP Award, and spending time as a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity.

In the Hoey family, attending WPI for civil engineering was always Plan A

As the first female Hoey to attend WPI, Lindsay’s decision wasn’t automatic. “Originally, I had only applied to WPI because my family had urged me to,” she admits. More than aware of her family’s fondness for the school, her uncertainty was around attending a school so focused on STEM. “However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is the stuff I like. I have always enjoyed my science classes and I took all the math classes I could. When I thought about what I wanted to do, what I liked, and where I pictured myself, WPI just made sense.”

The Hoey WPI Legacy goes beyond immediate family, as Fran Jr.’s grandson Sean ’05 CE, ’06 MS CE, met his wife, Elizabeth ’05 CE, ’06 MS CE, at WPI, and Mathew Brook ’03 ME married granddaughter Amber Hoey. Fran Jr.’s grandson Christopher Keenan ’96 CE also carried on the tradition, bringing the WPI Hoey heritage to 10 alumni in all.

But beyond the family lineage, Jim says he’d recommend WPI to anyone, for its reputation goes beyond the family table. Last year, while attending a seminar in Boston with a fellow employee in his twenties, the co-worker asked where Jim attended college.

“When I told him WPI, he said, ‘that explains a lot.’ I asked him what he meant by that, and his response was ‘everyone I’ve met that attended WPI tends to be a notch above.’”

The Hoeys are a living testament—10 times over—that sometimes no Plan B can get you a notch above.

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