Brandon Barquist: Talking Shop
by Shianne Gruss
From maintaining golf courses to constructing water handling systems, water has always been a part of Brandon Barquist’s career.
As an undergraduate at Iowa State University, Barquist spent his weekends setting up and tearing down for rock ‘n’ roll concerts, operas, sports events, and banquets at C.Y. Stephens Auditorium and Hilton Coliseum in Ames. His college years were otherwise devoted to studying horticulture, specifically turf grass management. While he set up the stage for artists like KISS, Tim McGraw, and Widespread Panic, Barquist planned to one day manage his own landscaping design and install firm.
The Perfect Position
With experience in construction, agriculture, and maintenance, he joined IIHR in 2007 as a research assistant. Now, Barquist spends his days surrounded by dropshafts, flumes, and pumps in the IIHR mechanical shops, which dot the east bank of the Iowa River. “I had never seen a job requisition that lined up with everything I had done in my life up to that point,” he says. In 2010, he became assistant shop manager, and in 2013 he was promoted to shop manager. “I have a roof over my head and all the power tools I could ever want,” Barquist says.
After graduation from Iowa State and a stint at a Professional Golfers Association course in Kansas City, Barquist returned to Iowa to continue his golf course career. He served as assistant superintendent at Elmcrest Country Club in Cedar Rapids, and then worked at Country Landscapes in North Liberty before he suffered a back injury. “I finally came to the conclusion that I didn’t want to do golf course work for the rest of my life,” Barquist says. “It’s a 24/7 job, where you’re always depending on the weather and you have 350 bosses to keep happy.”
Barquist admits that his position at IIHR can at times be challenging, especially when it comes to motivating employees. “Coming up the ranks, I know how fast I can do something, but it’s hard to judge how fast someone else could do the same thing,” he says. He also doesn’t get as much hands-on work as he would like. While he went from building ponds and waterfalls to helping design entire wastewater systems, the bulk of Barquist’s work now takes place at his desk. He oversees the fabrication of physical modeling projects such as Thames Tideway Tunnels Project, which aims to improve London’s outdated sewers and reduce pollution of the city’s waterways.
Outside of the shop, Barquist occasionally volunteers at the North Liberty Fire Department and has helped organized river clean-ups. His wife, Kara Barquist, is an assistant nurse manager at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. They are eagerly anticipating the birth of their first child in early 2015.
Barquist is an expert at adapting to new roles and new expectations, as he’s proven at IIHR. “I am proud to be a part of IIHR’s longstanding reputation for excellence in hydraulic research, and I will do my part to further that reputation,” Barquist says.