Marian grad finds success at MIT – Times News Online
For Joe Higgins, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a “deliciously complex place of research that has some of the smartest people in the world.”
This is where he hangs his hat these days while working on projects worth billions of dollars. It is “billions” with a “B”.
Higgins, a 1987 graduate of Marian Catholic High School and a former resident of Nesquehoning, is one of MIT’s many vice presidents, leading campus services and stewardship as one of the core members of its staff. management which supervises the commercial and administrative functions.
With 800 employees under him, Higgins oversees the Office of Sustainability, Environment, Health and Safety, the Office of Campus Planning and MIT’s facilities, including campus construction.
Always humble, he describes his work with unquestionably enormous responsibilities as “managing crisis after crisis, but empowering people to do their best.” “
He added, “MIT is a place of research, with around 20,000 independent companies doing all they can to maximize their own world. “
Since 2016, Higgins has managed critical aspects of MIT’s facilities, including finance and administration, purchasing, communications, and customer engagement. In 2018, he assumed responsibility for the management of maintenance, utilities and plant engineering. He and his team are responsible for the safe and sustainable planning, design, construction, maintenance and power of the MIT campus, with buildings totaling over 12 million gross square feet.
168 acres, budget of $ 150 million
During his career he worked for a management consulting firm that has served many leading higher education institutions including Harvard, Yale, Rockefeller, George Washington, Northwestern and Tufts universities, where he provided strategic and engineering services to over 100 academic and non-profit institutions. for their buildings and broader campus initiatives.
Working with the Director of Sustainability, he led MIT’s alliance with Boston Medical Center and Post Office Square to create a 60-megawatt, 650-acre solar power facility, adding carbon-free power to the grid. . MIT’s purchase of electricity from the 255,000 solar panels at this North Carolina facility was equivalent to 40% of the institute’s electricity use at the time, offsetting 17% of the country’s carbon emissions. MIT.
“We are working together to shape and enable our campus and our community to tackle big issues that matter to the world,” he said, noting that his work includes daily collaboration with finance, treasury , human resources, information technology and MIT Medical.
Higgins is responsible for all fiscal, technical, compliance and sustainability attributes of the design, construction and operations of the campus on 168 acres, 13 million square feet, 160 buildings, 5,500 lab space, 40 MW of power generation, 17 miles of utilities, 400 active construction projects – all supported by 800 employees with an operating budget of $ 150 million per year and a capital budget of $ 400 million per year.
He is the steward and architect of the implementation of MIT’s $ 5.2 billion investment plan for groundbreaking knowledge in science, technology and other fields of erudition. Under his leadership, MIT has completed $ 1 billion in projects, still has $ 1 billion in projects under construction, and an additional $ 1 billion is currently under design.
Prior to joining MIT, Higgins was Vice President and Chief Engineering Officer for Fidelity Investments, where he was responsible for infrastructure systems across a global real estate portfolio comprising key data centers, trading rooms, centers call and corporate office campuses. He was also Fidelity’s senior head of corporate sustainability, providing leadership, coordination and reporting for a wide range of sustainability initiatives around the world.
Earlier in his career, he served for 14 years as Director of Engineering and then Executive Director of Strategic and Technical Services at a Connecticut-based facility management company. In these roles, he has provided strategic and engineering services to over 100 academic and non-profit institutions on their construction projects and broader campus initiatives.
Started at Marian
Higgins’ journey to a higher rung on the ladder of one of the nation’s most prestigious college campuses began at Marian Catholic High School in Hometown, where he played football for the Colts under coach Stan Dakosty.
He started on the offensive and defensive lines when the Colts won the Class B Eastern Conference Championship in 1986 and set a record 24 game winning streak.
“The coach and his assistants taught us not only to play the game, but also the challenges of life,” he said. “They taught us that we don’t fall, we get up and keep going. This thought stayed with me until adulthood.
Higgins went to Swarthmore College on a football-related Thomas Kershaw Engineering Scholarship and played on his grill for four years, as captain of the 1990 team. During his career he was named a member of the First All Centennial Conference Defense Team and was named the 1991 National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame varsity athlete for the Philadelphia Chapter.
In the classroom, he was outstanding, having been selected to represent the college as a whole in the US News and World Report article in which Swarthmore was voted the No. 1 liberal arts college in the country.
Higgins received two degrees there in 1991 – a bachelor’s degree in engineering and a bachelor’s degree in economics. He went on to obtain a Master of Science in Education from the University of Oxford at UK Christ Church College, where he was the co-captain of the college American football team playing varsity competitions across the States. -United.
Son of Joe and Valerie Higgins of Hometown, formerly of Nesquehoning, he has three other siblings graduating from Marian, including Pam, who works as a technical lab manager in Pennsylvania; Matt, a technical / sales position at KME in Nesquehoning, and Samantha, who works in film and film production in Philadelphia.
Joe and his wife, Christine, will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary in October. They are both competitive rowers on the Charles River, where he admits, “she is admirably better than me.” Joe enjoys short track speed skating with the Bay State Speedskating Club and says that upon his return to the area he returns to the bleachers of the track, field and Marian Stadium “to exercise”.
They have a son Jack, a US Merchant Marine Academy graduate who was a two-time All American NCAA swimmer, and Emilia, a sophomore academy contender and swimmer as well.
One of three charcoal crackers
Ironically, Higgins is joined at MIT by two other natives of the Pennsylvania Coal Region, Dr Maria Zuber, a native of Summit Hill and a graduate of Panther Valley High School, and Martin A. Schmidt, a native of Mountaintop.
Dr Zuber is MIT’s vice president of research who was recently appointed by President Joe Biden to the Presidential Council of Science and Technology Advisors. His research focuses on the structure and tectonics of solid objects in the solar system. She specializes in the use of gravity measurements and laser altimetry to determine interior structure and evolution and has participated in more than half a dozen NASA planetary missions to map the moon, Mars, Mercury, as well as several asteroids.
Schmidt is the MIT provost in charge of faculty members.
Of Zuber, Higgins, who joins her on MIT’s climate action plan, said: “She’s a fantastic and amazing person mapping the moons.
He added: “To have three people from the coal regions in positions of responsibility here is great. I don’t know if there is anything in the soil here or what, but it is a wonderful testimony to the people of Pennsylvania. It tells you what kind of people we are.
Marian Catholic graduate Joe Higgins is now vice president of MIT. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO