Michael James Winckler, a municipal engineer in Missouri and past president of the ASCE Kansas City Section, has died. He was 37.

Known as a hard worker, yet generous toward others with his time, he possessed a rare combination of technical and people skills. He was as happy overseeing a construction project as he was homebrewing with his best college buddies while wearing his favorite pair of overalls.

Winckler, P.E., M.ASCE, became city engineer of Independence, Missouri, in 2020 and managed its engineering division. He’d worked for the city since 2013, two years after becoming a licensed professional engineer. A 2006 graduate of Kansas State University, his career began with the Missouri Department of Transportation, where he became a senior construction inspector. Perhaps his largest project for the department was a diverging diamond interchange. 

Upon working for the city of Independence, he created a citywide flood management plan, managed a sanitary sewer capital improvements program, and served as a design and construction liaison.

While growing his career, Winckler was dedicated to several professional organizations, especially ASCE and its Kansas City Section. He chaired the section’s largest annual event, its golf tournament, which has raised thousands of dollars for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the KC STEM Alliance. Following a term as president of the section’s younger member group, he served two years on the section’s board of directors, followed by a third year as president. He received the section’s Civil Engineer of the Year award last year and was a three-time recipient of ASCE’s Outstanding Younger Member in the Public Sector award. He also spent two years as practitioner advisor for ASCE’s Missouri State University Student Chapter.

“Mike always had a smile on his face and was happy to see you whenever and wherever you would cross paths with him,” said Aaron Frits, P.E., ENV SP, M.ASCE, Associate and Roadways group leader for GBA in Lenexa, Kansas, and chair of the ASCE Leader Training Committee, who often worked with Winckler in Society activities. “His mind was always working the issue, solving the problem, and thinking two steps ahead. He was a great person and engineer to solve a problem with over a beer. I’m going to miss his warm introductions and willingness to always help in any way he could.”

Winckler was a subcommittee member of the Mid-America Regional Council’s Water Quality Public Education and belonged to the Missouri Water Environment Association and the American Public Works Association. He was president of a local Toastmasters club.