In her book The 21st-Century Engineer: A Proposal for Engineering Education Reform
(Reston, Virginia: ASCE Press, 2007), Patricia D. Galloway, Ph.D., P.E., Pres.04.ASCE, wrote, “If engineers are going to compete successfully in this global workplace and establish themselves as leaders in solving many of the world’s most pressing problems, they must embrace the need for professional innovation and they must do so quickly.”
According to the National Academy of Engineering’s booklet Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st Century
, engineers will be confronted with problems involving energy conservation, resource protection, water use, food production and distribution, waste management, security and counterterrorism, communications, transportation, weather prediction and control, and sustainable development.
For the past 10 years, when the civil engineering community has looked for up-and-coming innovators and leaders capable of addressing pressing problems, they have found them in ASCE’s New Faces of Civil Engineering program, which complements the National Engineers Week Foundation’s New Faces of Engineering program. In the past 10 year, the 100 civil engineers recognized in ASCE’s program have used their creativity and technical prowess to plan, design, construct, and operate the facilities essential to the quality of life, and their work has encompassed bridges, highway systems, water treatment plants, and energy¬-efficient buildings. Many have also assumed leadership positions within ASCE and have lent their time and expertise to various Society committees at the national level.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the New Faces of Civil Engineering program, ASCE has chosen to highlight 10 individuals, 1 from each year, in recognition of their engineering achievements, volunteerism, participation within ASCE, and industry leadership. ASCE News contacted the 10 engineers to find out what they are doing now and how being included in the program has shaped their careers or their involvement in ASCE.
The 10 are as follows:
There is a small bridge that goes over the Tuolumne River in California just outside of Yosemite National Park that’s called the Evergreen Road Bridge. It is such a simple, standard, straightforward bridge that during its design and construction, about 10 years ago, it did not present any significant technical, cost, or scheduling challenges. But it did play an important part in the career of JENNIFER EPP
, P.E., M.ASCE, who today as director of Region 9 serves on ASCE’s Board of Direction.
“One of the things that I was proud of early on in my career is that I designed this little bridge, and although it was not necessarily the most technically advanced bridge, it was situated in a beautiful location and someplace that I really enjoyed visiting,” recalls Epp, who at the time was employed as a bridge engineer and later was an associate project manager and group leader at CH2M HILL, of Englewood, Colorado, and was part of the New Faces of Civil Engineering class of 2003. “As a young engineer, there were a lot of these big, glamorous projects going on at the firm I was working where I only got to work on a small piece. Because this bridge was such a small project, I was involved in doing the majority of the design.
“I was very proud of my Evergreen Road Bridge and taking my parents there to this bridge that I designed. My dad had driven over the previous bridge and he thought the new bridge was the best thing ever.”
Epp, who holds a bachelor’s degree from California State University at Fresno and a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of California at Berkeley, says that being included in the New Faces of Civil Engineering program not only gave her employer, CH2M HILL, a better understanding of her involvement in ASCE but also showed the firm her value as a rising star in the civil engineering profession.
“I was honored by the acknowledgment of being named a New Face, and I remember reading the information about all the other New Faces who were in my class. I was definitely inspired by all the cool things that the other young engineers were doing,” says Epp, who is now employed as a water resources control engineer at California’ Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. “One of the things that being a New Face was very helpful in doing was to demonstrate the value of ASCE to my employer. Obviously, I would not be able to be as involved with ASCE as I am if I did not have the support of my employers.”
As a volunteer Epp is involved in a variety of programs that introduce young people to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and she also participates in programs that clean up and restore local water bodies.
“In my current job, I help protect the water quality in my community. I really do feel like I make a difference in the area that I live in, and I believe that resonates with many civil engineers and students who feel like they want to make a contribution to their community,” says Epp, who resides in San Luis Obispo, California. “That is something that I take a lot of pride in.”
In 2001 Epp was the membership director of the Younger Member Forum within ASCE’s Sacramento Section, and over the years she has risen through the ranks and has served as the section’s treasurer, vice president, president, and executive director. From 2005 to 2010 she was a governor of Region 9. In addition to serving today as that region’s director, she sits on ASCE’s Public Policy Committee and a committee dealing with the Raise the Bar initiative.
“That Evergreen Road Bridge that I designed is a metaphor for the road that I have traveled these last nine year since being named a New Face,” says Epp. “They both helped lead me through my career path and involvement in ASCE.” PHILIP HINSON
, A.M.ASCE, was a captain in the U.S. Air Force serving with the 19th Civil Engineer Squadron at Little Rock Air Force Base, in Arkansas, when in July 2010 his unit was assigned to a forward operating unit near Gardēz, in eastern Afghanistan, to help rebuild civil infrastructure and mentor Afghan government officials at the provincial level.
“Less than a month after arriving in Afghanistan, I survived an explosion of an IED [improvised explosive device], or roadside bomb, in the truck that I was being transported in,” recalls Hinson, who earned the Bronze Star Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal (with oak leaf cluster), the Air Force Achievement Medal (with oak leaf cluster), the Air Force Combat Action Medal, and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal. “It destroyed the truck, and while I was not seriously injured I was able to continue the rest of my deployment [until July 2011] and complete my assignment.”
Hinson left the military last month. In his final assignment, he served as chief of readiness and emergency management for the 19th Civil Engineer Squadron at Little Rock Air Force Base.
Earlier in his career Hinson was the chief of maintenance engineering with the 81st Civil Engineer Squadron at Keesler Air Force Base, in Biloxi, Mississippi, and in that capacity took part in rebuilding the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The base was severely hit by the massive storm, sustaining approximately $1 billion in damage.
“I had actually been reassigned from Alaska to Mississippi to be a part of the recovery effort,” says Hinson, who earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Ohio State University and a master’s degree in public policy from New England College. “It was exceptionally rewarding to be part of the effort to remove all of the clutter and debris and then construct whole new buildings. There were several facilities on the base and in the area that I did design reviews for, so for me, being part of the revitalization and recovery of the Gulf Coast was really, really rewarding.”
Part of the New Faces of Civil Engineering class of 2009, Hinson has just begun a job in the civilian world. He is the general engineer for the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital, in Chicago, where he will be managing various construction and renovation projects.
“I see health care facilities management as an excellent career opportunity right now for civil and mechanical engineers,” says Hinson. “Personally, I very much look forward to what I will be doing and continue to work toward my P.E. and my certified health care facility manager certification.
“What New Faces meant to me was a recognition of my work as a young engineer both in Mississippi and Afghanistan. . . . During job interviews [after I left the military] I would sometimes be asked what I was doing to better myself professionally. I would point to being named as a New Face, and it was looked upon very favorably.”
As the owner and president of Roderick Group, Inc., and Material Service Testing Laboratories, both of Chicago, RASHOD JOHNSON
, P.E., M.ASCE, has accomplished much since being made part of the New Faces of Civil Engineering class of 2003.
Johnson, who prides himself on being a “business professional who practices engineering,” as opposed to an “engineer who owns a business,” started the Roderick Group, a full-service civil engineering design firm, in 2005 and Material Service Testing Laboratories, which performs tests on construction materials, in 2009, when colleagues and friends said he could not do it because of the Great Recession.
“We have seven employees currently with the Roderick Group and twenty-six with Material Service Testing,” says Johnson, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil and structural engineering from the University of Illinois and a master’s in business administration from the University of Notre Dame. “To be honest with you, I [have] managed to have double-digit growth every year that I have been in business. Things are going really well; we’re rocking and rolling.”
Despite all of his success, Johnson says that he has not forgotten who he is and has not forgotten his origins. “The one thing that I am most proud of is every year I have been in business I have hired a minority civil engineering intern,” states Johnson, who was employed at Nelson Testing Laboratories, of Schaumburg, Illinois, before founding his two engineering firms. “I am a black man myself, so I believe that to whom much is given, much is expected. While in high school, I started as an engineering intern at a large construction firm here in Chicago. So I try to give back by every year giving an internship to a minority engineering student to try to get them involved in civil engineering at the high school or collegiate level and try to get them exposed to the opportunities in this field that, frankly, is the best profession in the world.”
Johnson says that being included in the New Faces of Civil Engineering program was a major boost to his career. “It was really good for me and my career,” he recalls. “At the time I was working for the Mason Contractors Association of America, where I was running the engineering department. And to get that kind of national press [from ASCE] and have the members of our association from all over the country literally say, ‘Hey, this is our director of engineering—he is one of the New Faces,’ it really gave them a sense of pride. But it also gave me some validation on my part that they had this fairly young guy at a fairly new position who had not been licensed [as a civil engineer] yet, so it really helped focus my energies to become an engineer.”
Johnson currently holds leadership positions in various technical and nontechnical organizations. He sits on the boards of directors of Year Up, a nonprofit Chicago group that works with urban young adults, and of the Masonry Society and is a member of the Masonry Standards Joint Committee. Within ASTM International, he serves on the committees dealing with mortar and grout (C12), masonry units (C15), and occupational health and safety (E34). Johnson is also the chairman of the Mason Contractors Association of America’s Council for Masonry Wall Bracing.
As Johnson sees it, the aspiring engineer cannot have a narrow focus: “I believe that good civil engineers are complete, well-rounded people. What I mean by that is a good civil engineer is someone who can understand not only the technical aspects of a project but also can relate that to nontechnical aspects—the financial aspects and the community and social impacts—and take all of those factors into account, and I would like to think that I am one of those civil engineers. Being a New Face of Civil Engineering has had a lasting effect upon me.”
Being made a member of the New Faces of Civil Engineering class of 2010 was a career-changing event for MONICA LOUIE
As secretary of the New York chapter of Engineers Without Borders–USA, Louie was part of a team of engineers who in 2009 used their vacation time to travel to Cambodia. For three weeks they worked on a dam project that helped provide water for irrigation to more than 9,000 people in the area. The work involved the design and construction of a concrete water gate and the restoration of an earthen embankment. This past September she described the project at a United Nations forum in New York City on science, technology, and innovation.
“Cambodia undergoes a wet and dry season, so without this reservoir they only get one crop yield per year,” explains Louie. “And with the new dam they are now able to store water during the wet season, and during the dry season they are able to have water for irrigation. This means that their children will have that much more rice to eat.”
Since completing that project, Louie has become involved in the design and construction of a health center in Kenya, the goal being to provide clean water to the community.
“Being able to work on a project like that at a fairly young age, doing the design and construction work, and then seeing a tangible project at the end of it is probably one of my most successful and most rewarding achievements in my life to date,” says Louie, who in October began work as an engineer for the Parsons Transportation Group, Inc., in Washington, D.C. Before that she was working as an engineer in the New York City office of Parsons Brinckerhoff.
Louie, who holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a master’s degree in civil engineering from the Stevens Institute of Technology, benefited earlier in her academic career from the efforts of volunteers in the ACE (Architecture, Construction, Engineering) Mentor Program, and this experience piqued her interest in civil engineering. Today, she is mentor herself and is part of the Parsons team that visits the IDEA Public Charter School, in Washington, D.C., to acquaint high school students with the challenges, rewards, and opportunities offered by careers in architecture, construction, and engineering.
“I was impressed to be alongside the other New Faces of Civil Engineering in 2010. Everybody was just so well accomplished and doing a lot of great things as well,” recalls Louie. “After being selected, I then received recognition within my company [Parsons Brinckerhoff] by being selected as one of their Emerging Professionals, which they feature in a video called Inspire, Create, and Enhance
that they produce each year.” (That video can be accessed by clicking here
“Thanks largely to my recognition with New Faces and Emerging Professionals and my volunteer efforts,” she says, “I have been fortunate to receive several invitations from the heads of [engineering] committees and industry leaders who have asked me to attend several functions to talk about the professional work I do both within [Parsons Transportation Group] and Engineers Without Borders.”
With regard to her goals, Louie says, “I would like to continue contributing toward the improvement of the global quality of life because currently the contemporary issues that we are facing as civil engineers today [involve] aging infrastructure. Unfortunately, as the years progress, existing infrastructure that was designed one hundred years ago is now still in service, years after the original life span of the project.
“You can certainly say that since I was selected as a New Face of Civil Engineering two years ago my career has changed dramatically and in a positive way.” KAVEH MADANI
, Ph.D., A.M.ASCE, likes teaching. For the past two years he has been an assistant professor in the civil engineering department at the University of Central Florida.
“In the short time that I have been here I have been lucky that a lot of students have been interested in what I teach,” says Madani, who was born in Iran. “We have a pretty large research group here, mostly dealing with water, environmental, and energy issues, that is called HEESA [hydroenvironmental and energy systems analysis]. It is quite interdisciplinary and a very nonconventional engineering approach because we in the department believe that, besides the engineering aspect of problems, you have to make sure that you are familiar with the social, economic, and environmental aspects so that the solutions that you develop as civil engineers are sustainable and they are going to last when they are implemented.”
It was while he was a graduate student working toward a doctoral degree in civil and environmental engineering at the University of California at Davis that Madani came up with the idea for SISWEBS (Scientific Information Syndication WEBsiteS). This system, he imagined, would become a powerful tool that scientists, researchers, and civil engineers could use for free to find out what was new and popular on the Internet in the area of water resources. Launched in 2008, his vision was achieved by creating a social platform that enables members of the scientific and engineering community to share information.
“Since we first became live, four years ago, we are getting higher traffic and more people posting great information, so I believe that this is really something that contributes to our profession and society,” says Madani, who holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Tabriz, in Iran, and a master’s degree in water resources from Sweden’s Lund University. “Using SISWEBS is a way for Internet users to store, organize, share, and search bookmarks of Web pages in the area of water resources. I have traveled a lot and I’ve gone to a lot of different places in the world, and everywhere I go I’ve got people telling me they are using this website and I think that is a great thing. It’s something that I started doing during my student life, but I’ve never earned a penny and I’ve never wanted to.”
Madani is active within ASCE’s Environmental and Water Resources Institute, serving on its International Council, Planning and Management Council, Environmental and Water Resources Systems Committee, Water Resources and Environmental Planning and Management Committee, Water Systems Planning under Climate Change Task Committee, and World Water Council Activities Committee.
He also serves as a reviewer for 30 scientific journals, among them ASCE’s Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management and Journal of Hydrologic Engineering
, and has 65 publications to his credit, including books, book chapters, journal articles, and papers published in conference proceedings.
As the faculty adviser to the Engineers Without Borders–USA chapter at the University of Central Florida, Madani organized a humanitarian mission to Haiti in 2011.
“The students helped bring safe and potable drinking water to the residents of Mare Brignol, in Haiti, affected by the 2010 earthquake and the subsequent cholera outbreak caused by contaminated drinking water,” explains Madani, a member of the New Faces of Civil Engineering class of 2011. “The students did that by building many rainwater-storing cisterns near schools and town centers to store rainwater, and [they] built and installed numerous bio-sand filters for purifying public tap water. The new water collection and purification process was a vast improvement over the region’s previous method of gathering water, a six-mile-round-trip trek to a small spring.
“Sometimes when you do all these kinds of things, you ask yourself, am I on the right track? Are these good things to do, or am I wasting my time? But when you are recognized as one of the New Faces of Civil Engineering, it energizes you more and basically gives you the power to want to do more.” COLLIN MILLER
, P.E., M.ASCE, is a second-generation civil engineer whose career for the most part has been in water resources, in particular, storm-water management.
“My father [Charles Lynn Miller, P.E., D.WRE, F.ASCE] has been an influence on me,” says Miller, who is a vice president and senior engineer for SWRF L.L.C., of Tampa, Florida. “His influence is also manifested in my interest in water resources. Throughout my career, I have found that civil engineering and water resources—storm water, water, wastewater, groundwater—are extremely important to society’s quality of life and stability. Ultimately, I want to leave the world better than I found it; engineering is my means to that end.
“Managing storm water helps reduce flooding damage and enhance biodiversity, for example, by maintaining the hydroperiods of wetlands. I have been directly involved with projects from land development to resource protection.”
Two of the water resource projects that Miller is proudest of are the first and second phases of the Grady Avenue Drainage Reconstruction, in Hillsborough County, Florida. Serving as the project manager and senior design engineer, Miller prepared plans for eliminating area flooding by adding new sidewalks and a drainage system. The effort included public meetings to build support for the undertaking.
“This was a project where I had to deal with some irate public and adjacent property owners who were not very happy with the work as planned,” recalls Miller, who holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Missouri at Rolla and a master’s degree in civil engineering and water resources from the University of South Florida. “ We had our work cut out for us trying to explain why we had to design a large walkway for pedestrians to make the necessary drainage improvements.
“I was the engineer of record, so I had to deal with the internal workings of the municipality. . . . I had to deal with an irate public who were dead set against some components of the project but wanted other components of the project.”
At the public meetings, he explains, “we rendered graphics to illustrate the overall design, even though it was as simple as a sidewalk and basically the reworking of the drainage system. We needed to show the community that this project was not a bunch of ad hoc pipes that were put together by the residents but a consistent drainage system. So far, it is one of the projects that I am certainly proud of because it functions as it was originally designed and it’s worked to help improve public safety and welfare.”
Miller was honored in the New Faces of Civil Engineering program in 2006, and since then he has become very active in the West Coast Branch of ASCE’s Florida Section, taking part in a number of volunteer efforts and currently serving as the branch’s webmaster. He hopes to run for an elected position in the branch in the future.
“I was surprised, honored, and I am still humbled by being selected as a New Face because I know that there are great civil engineers out there who did not get selected,” says Miller. “This has had a positive impact on my career.”
Being a member of the New Faces of Civil Engineering class of 2008 has by no means slowed down JAVIER MONCADA
, P.E., LEED AP, A.M.ASCE.
Within ASCE’s Oregon Section, Moncada has already served as president, past president, treasurer, and board member and is now considering running for an ASCE position at the national level. Currently he is the chair of the ASCE Council on Disaster Risk Management’s Outreach Committee. An engineer in the Portland, Oregon, office of BergerABAM since 2007, Moncada has a background in coastal and civil engineering projects that is quite broad, encompassing academic research, construction inspection, and civil design. His responsibilities at BergerABAM include site civil utility design work, construction inspection, and the application of sustainable design practices.
“I was very much honored by being named a New Face,” says Moncada, whose wife, Melissa Moncada, P.E., M.ASCE, is a bridge engineer with CH2M HILL, of Englewood, Colorado, and also is active in ASCE’s Oregon Section. “It very much felt like a validation of my work as an engineer, and it inspired me to get more involved with ASCE at the section and branch level.”
Moncada has worked on construction administration for the Oregon Department of Transportation on several retaining walls built in response to landslides, and the work has been carried out under compressed schedules and in conformity with stringent engineering requirements. For the past two years he has been a valuable member of the BergerABAM team on the transmission main improvement project for Hood River, Oregon. He has worked on all three phases of the project, his duties involving design, construction management, inspection, and administration.
“I am resident project engineer for the City of Hood River’s transmission main improvement project,” says Moncada, who holds a master’s degree in civil engineering from Oregon State University. “It’s a fifteen-mile-long transmission main that is replacing an existing ninety-year-old, fourteen-inch transmission main. There have been quite a few design challenges in terms of crossing the Hood River multiple times, going underneath railroads, and standing in the public right-of-way.
“Being a New Face was a very proud moment for me,” concludes Moncada. “It was very satisfying, but the advice that I would give to other young engineers is [that] it is important to continue to learn and challenge yourself, continue to grow, continue to network with other engineers, and continue to stay involved in ASCE.”
If you live in Georgia and you lose your electricity, you can be sure that MELISSA S. WHEELER
, A.M.ASCE, a member of the transmission project management team at Georgia Power, of Atlanta, will do her utmost to get your lights back on. Wheeler joined the company in 1994 and since then has held positions in the areas of environmental affairs, transmission, and distribution.
“I now work with the transmission, or high-voltage, project management group,” says Wheeler, who is a governor of ASCE’s Region 5. “And my focus is on materials for very large capital transmission budgets. We have so many projects across the state and we have such a high volume of workload case issues that my focus is to make sure we order the materials that we need on time and receive [them] so that we can construct according to schedule. But probably the fun part of my job is that I get to participate in our [electrical] restoration efforts whenever there is an emergency and we all spring into action to get the lights back on.
“Georgia Power is the largest supplier of power in the state, serving all but five counties. So if your lights went out, I would certainly care if you were a Georgia Power customer.”
Her efforts earned Wheeler the company’s Southern Excellence Award, which she received in recognition of her strong work ethic and her dedication to both her project team and her project controls team.
Active within ASCE at both the local and the national level, in 2007 she became the youngest person and the first woman ever to be elected president of the Georgia Section. In addition to serving as Region 5 governor, she sits on ASCE’s Committee on Diversity and Inclusion and Key Contact Committee and represents the Society in events held in conjunction with the National Engineers Week Foundation’s Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day.
“The thing I am most proud of was being the first female president of the Georgia Section, which at that time was in the ninety-fifth year of its history,” says Wheeler, who holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. “I think there were many women in the past who could have done it, but there were none who stepped up and I was very proud that I was able to break through that barrier.
“It was exciting for me to be recognized [in the New Faces of Civil Engineering class of 2005] and to be part of a young and upcoming group of civil engineers. I had already been involved in the Younger Member Forum within the [Georgia] Section, but [being part of the 2005 class] made me want to stay involved in ASCE. I saw the benefits of being involved in a larger organization; it made me want to be involved in it for the rest of my career.”
Wheeler’s accolades include the 2011 Engineer of the Year in Industry Award, conferred as part of Georgia Engineers Week; the 2003 Younger Engineer of the Year Award from ASCE’s Georgia Section; the 2002 Younger Engineer of the Year Award, also conferred as part of Georgia Engineers Week; and the 1999 Chapter Member of the Year Award from the ASCE chapter at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Besides serving as president of the board of directors of the Technical Women in Georgia group at Georgia Power and participating in a Women in Engineering mentoring program with the Georgia Institute of Technology, Wheeler volunteers for various community service projects.
“Ultimately,” concludes Wheeler, “my goal is to continue to stay actively involved in ASCE at the local level and nationally.”
A commendable tradition of ASCE’s Seattle Section is that in recent years many of its leaders have been former members of its Younger Member Forum. So in 2010 it was not surprising that, upon becoming president-elect of the section, MELISSA WU
, P.E. M.ASCE, found herself almost two years younger than the incoming president of the Younger Member Forum, Amanda Shellenberger, P.E., M.ASCE.
“We laughed about it, but a lot of our [Seattle Section] board leadership has come up through the younger member ranks,” says Wu, who had earlier headed the Younger Member Forum and was part of the New Faces of Civil Engineering class of 2010. “The section has done a really nice job of pulling younger members in and getting them engaged because they all bring a lot of energy and new ideas to the table. And that is part of the reason why we stay so connected with our membership, because we have great continuity with our section and younger member activities.”
As associate engineer with CH2M HILL’s water business group in Seattle, Wu has spent the past eight years planning and designing water and wastewater projects. Her work has included developing conceptual plans and reports; developing wastewater facility plans; carrying out hydraulic, water system, and treatment process modeling; and preparing construction documents.
“I focus mostly on wastewater treatment planning and environmental design projects within the Pacific Northwest,” says Wu, who holds a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in environmental engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. “I have a variety of roles depending on the project—from project engineer to task lead to project manager and design team manager—but it is all within the realm of wastewater infrastructure.”
One of Wu’s more recent projects saw her serving as assistant project manager and project engineer on an undertaking for the City of Tacoma, Washington, involving an oxygen-generating facility at a wastewater treatment plant. Starting in 2009, she worked on the analysis and redevelopment of the facility, and construction work to realize the design is currently under way.
“Once you become a New Face of Civil Engineering, you really have the desire to do more and give back more,” notes Wu, who was also honored in 2010 with the Puget Sound Engineering Council Young Engineer of the Year Award. “After being named a New Face by ASCE, [CH2M HILL] did a really good job of recognizing me and highlighting my achievements within the company. And that recognition really gave me the opportunity to make connections and network with other engineers in my own firm, which gave me exposure to senior leadership and management that I probably would not have had.
“But I knew even before I became a New Face that I wanted to continue my involvement with ASCE and the Seattle Section, whether that was right away or fifteen years later. I knew that was something that I wanted to do, to get more involved at the board level or something else in the section leadership level.”
Wu is currently helping the Seattle Section prepare for its centennial, which will be in 2013 and have the theme “People, Projects, and Policies.” The year-long celebration will include a gala, an exhibition at Sea-Tac International Airport entitled Centenary Civil Engineers That Built Seattle, an update of the section’s infrastructure report card, community events, outreach activities designed to involve students from kindergarten through grade 12, and publication of a brochure highlighting local sites of importance in civil engineering history.
In looking ahead, Wu says, “I see myself doing a mix of engineering and management projects, with the end goal of always having a positive impact on the community that I serve, whether that is helping our clients solve problems to protect our waterways or through other means.”
“One project that I serve as the civil engineer and I am really excited about is the Northeastern Arizona Technical Institute of Vocational Education, an acronym that spells NATIVE,” says MERWIN T. YELLOWHAIR
, P.E., CFM, M.ASCE, the principal engineer and owner of Arrowhead Engineering, Inc., which is headquartered in Tucson, Arizona, and a member of the Diné (Navajo) people. “NATIVE is a four-phase federal grant project of the Navajo nation to construct a new vocational high school back in my hometown of Kayenta, Arizona.
“What I was able to do was work closely with the architect, local agencies, and high schools’ educational staffs to create and develop this facility that would be able to provide vocational training to high school students and young adults in the Navajo nation. My firm did the floodplain analysis, the fireproofing, the fire capacity calculations, the fire pressure analysis, and all of the things that go into designing a school. The first phase opened in February, and to see the facility not only fully functional but students taking classes to learn a trade was a real bonus.”
A member of the Southern Arizona Branch of ASCE’s Arizona Society of Civil Engineers Section, Yellowhair explains that in growing up on the Navajo reservation he was one of very few young people to have an opportunity to obtain a scholarship to attend Northern Arizona University, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering. Not forgetting his roots or his culture, Yellowhair sees the design and construction of NATIVE as a way of giving back to his community.
“I was raised in a traditional Diné environment, where humility and sincerity are paramount,” explains Yellowhair, who was a member of the New Faces of Civil Engineering class of 2007. “Implementing my cultural teachings, I connect the technology of engineering with cultural sensitivity to enhance the balance between nature and construction, thus bringing culture to construction. Implementing these ideals we [at Arrowhead Engineering] produce designs that are land sensitive, culturally empowering, and sustainably constructed.”
Yellowhair’s journey to become a civil engineer began when he returned from a high school trip to Australia in 1996. “My mother mentioned that I had talents [that would] make me a great leader,” he recalls. “I attended the seminar and the preregistration day at Northern Arizona University’s school of engineering, and immediately I was intrigued. I am grateful for the confidence my mother had in me. This November I will have a civil engineering firm successfully operating for five years!”
As the only member of his family ever to be an engineer, Yellowhair says he felt proud when he was selected by ASCE for inclusion in the New Faces of Civil Engineering program. “I felt like my determination and my career were appreciated not only by the professional [civil engineering] community but also by the Navajo tribe, friends, and family,” says Yellowhair, who at the time was working as a civil engineer in Tucson, Arizona. “Becoming a New Face inspired me to open up my own engineering firm and specialize in tribal and native nation projects. . . . When I decided to open my own business, a lot of people were telling me that I was crazy for creating a new venture when the financial situation was so unstable, but I believed that implementing my [engineering] talents on tribal land was a worthy endeavor.
“What I would like everyone to know is that it was perseverance and determination that took me this far. And that is my aspiration, to keep going and to provide my services to the people in my community.”
Stay tuned to ASCE News over the next two months as the Society announces the names of those selected in 2013 in the professional and college editions of the New Faces of Civil Engineering program. For more information about the program, click here