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Meet Derek Miller, a PennDOT Transportation Construction Inspector

May 03, 2024 01:00 PM
By: Tina Gibbs

​Derek Miller first joined the PennDOT team as a transportation equipment operator in Jefferson County. After nearly 12 and a half years with the department, Miller has progressed to a transportation construction inspector (TCI) for Indiana-based District 10.

A TCI is responsible for performing technical inspections of highway and bridge construction projects, interpreting contract requirements, inspecting existing bridges, and more. Miller said that one of the most important responsibilities in his career is ensuring the safety of the public, his colleagues, and the contractors who work on PennDOT projects.

“Safety is very serious," said Miller. “Distractions for the traveling public can be dangerous for employees in the field. We have increased our visibility and the construction warnings. It's important for all of us to get home safe each night, free of injuries and accidents."

One thing that surprised Miller about working for PennDOT was the extensive amount of training he received. He participated in trainings for flagging, roadway safety, traffic control, and much more. Miller accredits these trainings to keeping himself and his colleagues safe in the field.

When asked if he has a mentor at PennDOT, Miller said he owes all his success to three individuals: Assistant District Executive of Construction Paul Koza, Transportation Construction Engineer Betty Bottali, and his brother, Transportation Construction Manager Nathan Miller. Each of these individuals has guided Miller through his career at PennDOT and given him patience and support when learning.

“I owe all three of them the utmost amount of praise. I would have been lost without them," said Miller. “As for my brother, he was the reason I originally wanted to work at PennDOT. He has been a huge supporter and mentor for me my whole life."

When he is not working, Miller enjoys spending time with his wife and two dogs. He has also been a volunteer firefighter for the Punxsutawney Fire Department for the past 19 years.

In December 2023, Miller received a Medal of Valor for his heroic endeavors on December 29, 2022, during a house fire. The Medal of Valor is awarded to a firefighter for performance above and beyond the call of duty at extreme personal risk and having been instrumental in rescuing and saving another person's life.

“As a child I always dreamed of driving the big red fire trucks. At the age of 19 I quickly realized that it's not about riding in the big red fire truck. It about helping people, most that I have never met before," said Miller. 

Miller is very appreciative of the award and acknowledges that this was a team effort. According to him, the biggest win was sparing a life that morning.​

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