The Second Annual, New Faces in Civil Engineering spotlights outstanding contributions of America's young and talented engineers. New Faces of Civil Engineering lets people see the kinds of jobs they can do if they become civil engineers!
Nahid Afsari's interest in engineering has taken her from building a spaghetti bridge in high school to designing the reconstruction of a real "spaghetti bowl" - downtown Milwaukee's Marquette Interchange. Her transition from pasting pasta to designing part of an $810-million project for CH2M HILL has been rewarding. As a structural engineer for the replacement of the complex interchange that links three interstate highways near Marquette University, she designs bridges for the project's half-mile-long east leg.
Nahid's diverse experience also includes a "low-profile" project, she designed a highway undercrossing that enabled a threatened species of snake to safely get to the other side. Nahid is also participating in "Leadership Milwaukee," an 8-month program for emerging leaders to build awareness of community issues in order to improve quality of life in greater Milwaukee. Nahid is involved with youth soccer in her community; she has coached a club team for three years, runs soccer camps, and is a volunteer assistant for high school soccer programs in Whitefish Bay.
After graduating from Cooper Union, Rocco Cetera was hired as a Civil Trainee by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. During his first year, Rocco put together pavement design criteria for the Port Authority's marine terminals. Recently, Rocco was promoted to Engineer and Task Leader for several high-profile projects, including Expressrail-Intermodal Transfer Facility, Lot P6 at Newark Liberty International Airport and security enhancement at Teterboro Airport.
In addition to Rocco's engineering responsibilities, he is an active member of the Architect Construction Engineering (ACE) Mentor Program. The objective of the ACE Mentor Program is to expose engineering and architecture activities to minority students in high school and encourage them to pursue related career paths. Rocco was first enlisted as a mentor, later as a team leader, and most recently as board member for the ACE New Jersey Board of Directors.
As a civil engineer with CH2M HILL, Jennifer Epp has worked on projects to reinforce bridges against earthquakes and to safeguard communities from floods. Her assignments have included landmark San Francisco Bay Area bridges that are critical to efficient travel and public safety. On the East Carquinez Bridge seismic retrofit project, Jennifer ensured that the bridge's shock transmission devices performed as designed, to protect the 3,350-foot-long bridge and more than 100,000 motorists per day from earthquakes. Verifying the devices' performance was vital to the success of this pioneering project, since they were the largest ever manufactured: each weighs 13,200 pounds and can withstand forces equivalent to the launch thrust of a Space Shuttle. On a $36-million project in San Jose, Jennifer designed flood walls to protect the community from flooding along the Guadalupe River.
Jennifer has participated in National Engineers Week as a speaker/instructor at Boys and Girls Clubs of Sacramento, and she is active in ASCE YMF's "Adopt a Girl" program that brings holiday gifts to teens in need. She has served as a judge for ASCE's Mid-Pacific Region Steel Bridge Competition as well as for the Sacramento Regional Science and Engineering Fair.
Kevin Lai, P.E., has always been fascinated by the simple beauty of the San Francisco Bay Area bridges. His childhood interest led him to study civil engineering at the University of California at Berkeley. Since graduation, he worked on the seismic retrofit project of the Hayward-San Mateo Bridge and the new bridge construction of the Benicia-Martinez Bridge for Parsons Brinckerhoff. Currently, Kevin is serving as the assistant resident engineer on the Mission Boulevard Spot Improvement Project in Fremont. Though different from the mega-bridge projects, this roadway widening job situated on two busy state route intersections has given Kevin an opportunity to serve the public first-hand. He brings an awareness of the concerns of local residents and business owners impacted by construction activities to the field. Kevin believes that being an excellent civil engineer doesn't mean just understanding designs and calculations, but also possessing the ability to communicate with the people affected by engineering projects.
To support restoration and management of San Francisco Bay, Megan Lionberger conducts field studies and develops numerical models as a hydraulic engineer for the United States Geological Survey. The bottom sediment of the bay is a significant source of contaminants. For the planned restoration of thousands of acres of former commercial salt ponds to tidal wetlands, a crucial question is whether there is enough sediment to build and maintain wetlands as sea level rises. Megan developed a tidally-averaged numerical model of sediment that is being used to simulate the long-term fate of sediment and associated contaminants.
Another question is how to manage pond water level and salinity for maximum ecological benefit. Megan developed a numerical model of water level and salinity in a salt pond and helped to collect field data used to develop the model. Megan is also conducting a field study to determine how much sediment and carbon a mature tidal wetland provides or removes from the Bay; she frequently presents the results of these studies at conferences and in technical reports and journal articles. Megan earned her masters and bachelors in civil and environmental engineering from the University of California, Davis and coaches a youth soccer team in her free time.
Having traveled far from his native Turkey, Isa Mavi faced the challenge of getting a masters degree in structures and mechanics from North Carolina State University. After receiving his degree, Isa moved to New York, where as one of his first projects with Parsons Brinckerhoff he was instrumental in seeing that the 1 and 9 Subway came back to life in downtown Manhattan following the 9/11 disaster at the former World Trade Center site. He worked night and day developing design details for unforeseen conditions under incredible pressure, all in an effort to make sure that the contractor could maintain an aggressive schedule to restore service and rebuild the subway line destroyed in the collapse of the towers. Isa showed the highest level of dedication and professionalism in those most trying times.
Isa has moved on to designing curved girder bridges for the I84/I87 Interchange Reconstruction Project in upstate New York. His solid background in engineering theory and excellent engineering judgment have allowed him to take charge of the superstructure steel design for the project. In his spare time, he practices for his next career as a folk music star.
Rachel Stender, P.E., is responsible for design, construction and management of capital and maintenance projects as a project engineer for the Port of Corpus Christi. With her recent licensure, Rachel became the first registered female engineer in the 77-year history of the Port. Currently, Rachel is the project manager for construction of a new water taxi landing, a $1.9 million project to encourage alternate transportation in the arts and museum district in the city. She is also the project manager for demolition of over 1 million square feet of timber warehouses for future construction of a minor league baseball stadium. Through Rachel's efforts, the Port received the Cal Hurst Outstanding Achievement Award for Comprehensive Environmental Management for the Port's storm water program in 2000.
In addition to her duties at the Port, Rachel also recently completed reserve duty in the U.S. Air Force as a civil engineering officer with the 307th RED HORSE Unit, a mobile, rapid-response construction unit. Further, Rachel recently completed a Masters Degree in Business Administration, and Rachel is continuing her education interests as an adjunct professor at the local community college. Rachel is also a Texas A&M-CC FUSE member and student mentor, a program designed to further minority interest in science and engineering fields. Civil engineering is a commitment to the community, and Rachel truly embodies a "new face" in the civil engineering field. Rachel fulfills many roles: wife, mother, Port employee, Community College faculty, and community volunteer. Leading by example, she is showing others that women are able to succeed in both traditional and nontraditional fields.
Carrie Sturts, Ph.D., P.E., investigates, analyzes and explores technical, organizational as well as geo-political aspects of engineering and construction projects as an engineer with Exponent Failure Analysis Associates. She has been involved in the investigation of construction delays and claims, building and material defects, as well as geotechnical and environmental projects. As a consultant with Exponent, Carrie analyzes complex engineering problems and then communicates the results and findings to technical and non-technical colleagues and clients. For her doctoral thesis, Carrie documented and discussed the current state of the industry and introduces tools engineers can use to increase the perceived value of their products and services.
As a member of ASCE and SAME, Carrie has been involved with mentor programs, Building Big outreach, Me, Myself and Infrastructure Exhibit in San Francisco, and other society events. She is also a dancer and choreographer.
Wastewater goes where it's supposed to go in Detroit, thanks to Rob Van Cott, P.E. Working for Camp Dresser and McKee, Rob helped create a 50-year wastewater master plan for the city and develop a model to allocate wastewater flows to the city and its customers. Rob is also responsible for design/construction management of public utility projects for Fort Lauderdale. His goal is to move into an infrastructure development position in the U.S. and around the world.
Rob has been involved with numerous professional and community activities, including the Marine Archeological Society, MATHCOUNTS and the Boys Scouts of America. He is professionally licensed in two states. He has a Bachelors and Masters of Science in civil engineering and is currently attending the Master of Business Administration program at the University of Michigan.
As an aviation engineer, Tracy Victorine clears planes for landing. While working with CH2M HILL, she helped develop a 3-D computer modeling program to identify obstructions that could pose as hazards to airplanes taking off, landing, and flying near U.S. Air Force bases. As part of her work, Tracy hiked around the airfield at Aviano Air Base, Italy, to survey for obstructions, including structures, trees and terrain. Using a geographic positioning system, she collected information for input into a program that provides a model of the area. The resulting visual display shows the location of physical hazards to flight paths. This tool has been used at locations in Europe and the United States to improve safety for various airfields and their neighboring communities. Currently, at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, Tracy is on a team involved with a multibillion-dollar program that includes realigning and rebuilding the runways.
Tracy also applies her civil engineering skills as a Habitat for Humanity volunteer; participates in volunteer activities for Chicago Cares, a non-profit organization that provides opportunities for individuals and businesses to improve the Chicago community through group volunteer programs designed to address Chicago's most pressing needs; and serves as a judge for National Engineers Week's Future City Competition. She also presented a seminar on Airport Design to the Junior Engineers, Tomorrow's Scientists (JETS) after-school program for minority high school students.