Finding and nurturing future leaders are a primary concern for any organization and, indeed, for any profession. ASCE offers assistance in this regard by calling attention to younger individuals possessing extraordinary talent and ability.
In his book The Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell (McGraw-Hill, 2003), Oren Harari includes the following statement from the former U.S. secretary of state: “There are no secrets to success; it is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”
In seeking its next generation of leaders, the civil engineering profession looks every year to the 10 individuals 30 years of age or younger chosen by ASCE in its program New Faces of Civil Engineering. The young engineers making up the 2013 class exhibit leadership, technical prowess, confidence, curiosity, integrity, sound judgment, and a positive attitude. They were chosen not only for their engineering knowledge and accomplishments but also for their commitment to the values outlined by ASCE in its report The Vision for Civil Engineering in 2025, which sees engineers as being “entrusted by society to create a sustainable world and enhance the global quality of life.”
ASCE’s program complements the National Engineers Week Foundation’s program New Faces of Engineering, which celebrates the accomplishments of engineers 30 years of age or younger in a range of engineering fields.
The 10 engineers selected this year by ASCE are as follows:
For many years the old trolley car and bus stop at the corner of Cheltenham and Ogontz Avenues in Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania was considered the gateway into northwestern Philadelphia. Operated by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), this trolley car/bus stop connected Willow Grove to North Philadelphia and began service as far back as 1907. However, as the population expanded and more motorists began hitting the roads, the location became a confined, congested, and chaotic traffic intersection.
As commuters came to rely on this important bustling bus stop loop, SEPTA needed a plan to transform this location into a safe, secure, customer friendly transit hub to be at the center of Cheltenham community. In 2010, a 16-month $3.4 million SEPTA Cheltenham and Ogontz Bus Loop project was launched to accommodate what it estimated as the nearly 700 daily bus trips for approximately 5,000 passengers. The new bus loop would be surrounded by nine lanes of highway traffic.
The design and oversight of the project, which was completed in July 2011, was performed by ERICA ANTOINE, EIT, A.M.ASCE, a civil associate in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania office of Burns Engineering, Inc.
“The [Cheltenham and Ogontz] bus loop is probably the first large-scale project that I was able to oversee and design from start to finish,” explained Antoine, who graduated in 2009 with dual bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering and architectural engineering from Drexel University. “I assisted on the proposal and the pre-site meetings; I did the entire stormwater design and site layout, and completed all the permitting, which was very expansive in the [Cheltenham] township. It was like working on a huge jigsaw puzzle in a very condensed period of time to accomplish this large project.”
“Being part of that project was a nice achievement and then, there is the satisfaction of passing the bus loop every day and just thinking about all the different components that went into finishing this on time.”
Among some the major challenges Antoine and her team faced was: completing the design, permitting, and construction in a condensed timeframe, getting consensus from all the various stakeholders, reducing disruption of the regular bus service, eliminating bus routes entering site with left turns, enhancing the site appearance and limited customer amenities, and designing an effective stormwater management system to connect one and a half acres of impervious area to the existing municipal system.
“I love the challenge of designing new and innovating, environmentally friendly, self-sustaining, site infrastructure,” says Antoine, who is presently working on earning her master’s degree in engineering management at Drexel University. “I enjoy witnessing conceptual ideas morph into large-scale construction projects and I enjoy working with fellow engineers on a daily basis to overcome project obstacles.”
“It’s personally rewarding to know that the mass transit station, airport terminals, and subway concourses I contributed in designing has improved the daily lives of the community I live and work in.”
When not working professionally as a civil engineer, Antoine makes time in her busy work schedule to volunteer for outreach projects through the Philadelphia Branch Younger Members Forum.
“I volunteer a decent amount of time to projects that promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,” says Antoine, who was mentored by Phil Neff, her physics teacher in Paulsboro High School in New Jersey. “My favorite is probably the Transportation You Program that mentors girls ages 13 to 18 about careers in transportation with a focus on the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) initiative.”
“We’ve hosted workshops with hands-on experiments where middle school students created towers out of marshmallows and straws and we analyzed the different shapes that they utilized to get the tallest point. Sometimes we constructed the towers on Jell-O and shook them to see what happens during an earthquake. We try and do fun things so that the students develop a passion for engineering.”
“One thing that I learned is: it is one thing to do your job well, with high quality and high standards, but one thing that I really want is be able to explain to students what I do and share my enthusiasm,” she says, “Whether it is middle school students exploring how bridges are built and why they collapse, or with high school students describing the technology that we use as engineers and comparing it with what used to be used [years ago], I want to encourage the next generation of civil engineers.”
When in August 2011 he obtained a doctorate in civil engineering from Purdue University, KEVIN M. FORD, Ph.D., A.M.ASCE, became the first member of his family to reach that academic level. His parents grew up in Chicago’s Southside and lacked the means for such advanced education, although his father worked himself through school to join the first generation of college graduates in Kevin’s family history. This dedication, along with his mother’s strong support, helped inspire Ford to not just obtain a bachelor’s degree from Valparaiso University but to pursue graduate work at Purdue.
Ford, who is now employed as a transportation and traffic engineer in the Chantilly, Virginia, office of CH2M HILL, a global leader in consulting, design, design/build, operations, and program management, recognizes the profound effect his parents have had on his life. “My parents encouraged me to work hard and give back to the community. Engineering has been the perfect outlet for this. As stewards of our nation’s infrastructure, I get to work on challenging problems that impact our societal economy, safety, and environmental sustainability.”
The recipient of various academic awards, including a national Tau Beta Pi fellowship, Ford was humbled at being chosen for the New Faces of Civil Engineering program. “Becoming a New Face of Civil Engineering is a tremendous honor and my first major award as a professional. I am very grateful to ASCE for that.”
Through his employment at CH2M HILL, Ford has worked on several high-profile transportation projects, most notably the long-term, multiphase infrastructure initiative by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to improve and rebuild Interstate 95 in Pennsylvania and the $3.45-billion project to transform St. Elizabeths Hospital, in the Washington, D.C., neighborhood of Anacostia, into the new headquarters of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
With his work on the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation project, Ford served as the bridge technical leader in evaluating the project’s long-term planning needs. He accomplished this by developing his own Excel-based tool that incorporates complex mathematical principles and will assist the department in allocating taxpayer funds while ensuring roadway safety.
“With CH2M HILL, I have had the opportunity to work on a wide variety of studies in the transportation field,” says Ford, who was recently honored in his firm’s Rising Stars program. His goal in conducting traffic studies using modeling software packages is “to try and predict future traffic volumes and evaluate project alternatives and their respective roles in reducing congestion.” In addition to conducting safety reviews by analyzing crash trends, his duties include making field visits to help determine which types of countermeasures would be most effective in reducing fatalities and serious injuries.
Serving as a technical leader in transportation asset management for his firm, Ford focuses on developing and implementing highly effective practices through “the implementation of MAP 21 [Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, which funds surface transportation programs in fiscal years 2013 and 2014] legislation.” His overriding goal is to apply analytical methodologies to, he says, “effectively utilize taxpayer money so as to help maintain the [U.S. transportation] system’s safety while ensuring equitable benefits, protecting the environment, and encouraging economic development.”
Actively involved with the Transportation Research Board, Ford coauthored a report in the National Cooperative Highway Research Program dealing with ways of estimating the life expectancies of highway assets. He has also made more than 10 presentations at Transportation Research Board conferences, and he reviews technical papers and serves on committees dealing with transportation asset management tools and with the analysis of bridge life-cycle costs. Ford and the CH2M HILL team were recently selected to help lead research efforts on a National Cooperative Highway Research Program project that will develop a guidebook senior department of transportation managers can use to analyze the likely system performance ramifications of investment decisions involving multiple types of transportation assets.
“Our goal as engineers,” Ford says, “should be to not only instill technical knowledge but to emphasize the importance of technical writing and presentation skills. My [personal] goal has been to draw from my experiences in tutoring and training others so as to break down engineering concepts in a clear, meaningful way.”
Last month, approximately 30 people showed up at the home of OSCAR MICHAEL GARZA, P.E., PTOE, M.ASCE, to do some gambling. It wasn’t just any ordinary poker tournament; rather, the event was part of an effort Garza organized called the E-STARS [Engineers in Sports Tournaments for the Advancement of Regional Scholarships] Program, which raises money on behalf of various professional organizations for community outreach events and scholarships.
“That night we were able to raise between five and six hundred dollars toward multiple scholarship funds,” says Garza, who also serves as president of the San Antonio chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the southern Texas section of the Institute of Transportation Engineers. “The E-STARS Program allows us to get engineering professionals, students, friends, and families together with different kinds of sports tournaments that help raise money for a good cause, and so far it has been pretty successful. Since the program began last year, we have raised somewhere between five and six thousand dollars for different scholarships, including the ASCE San Antonio Branch’s scholarship program. It’s great fun for everybody. It gets people out; you create student and professional networking opportunities; and ultimately you’re finding the funding necessary to continue important scholarship programs and outreach events within the San Antonio area.”
That effort sums up the motto that Garza says he tries to live by: “It is not about where you come from or what you did yesterday but about where you plan to be tomorrow and what you are doing to get there today. And as part of that, I think that it is vital for us as successful engineers to give back to our community as much as we can on a daily basis to help [others] achieve their goals as well.”
As a child growing up in an underprivileged home in southern Texas, he always knew he wanted to be an engineer.
“When I was fourteen years old and in the back seat of my parents’ car, I was in absolute awe driving by the mammoth multilevel interchange construction at State Loop 410 and Interstate 10 in northwest San Antonio,” Garza recalls. “I knew right then and there that I would become a civil engineer one day, and I never looked back. As if it were destiny, the first job I accepted as a professional out of college included a window office overlooking that very same interchange that sparked my dream.”
Over the past nine years Garza, who now works as a project manager in the San Antonio office of Dannenbaum Engineering, has successfully designed or managed more than 50 mi of roadway and highway projects in the state of Texas. The largest was a $42-million project in northern San Antonio involving Bulverde Road, an undertaking that involved widening a two-lane roadway into a divided seven-lane thoroughfare; providing curbs, gutters, bike facilities, striping, cross-culverts, storm drainage, and basins for a water pollution abatement plan; implementing a storm-water pollution prevention program and a traffic control plan; and adding signs and traffic signals.
“I was in the field every day, responsible for overseeing all of the contract and construction operations as a third-party member of the construction management team,” says Garza, who holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Texas at San Antonio. “I reviewed shop drawings, ensured the contractor’s compliance with the plans and specifications, and handled all of the project’s correspondence through the City of San Antonio’s portal system. I was also responsible for the material testing scheduling, processing requests for information and change orders, coordinating with utility providers, inspecting all the storm-water pollution prevention plan features weekly, and reviewing all the monthly estimates for the contractor. Working in the field for those two years has provided me with such a tremendous respect for the design side of the business, and I think I’m a much stronger engineer now because of that valuable time and experience.”
As a professional traffic operations engineer, he has performed numerous traffic engineering analyses in an effort to alleviate traffic congestion in Texas. The largest analysis he performed was for a 2,700-acre mixed-use urban community proposed for southern San Antonio that would have as its centerpiece the 694-acre campus of Texas A&M University.
“I have been working in my dream field of transportation engineering since I got out of high school at the age of eighteen, and it’s been an awesome ride so far,” says Garza. “I have been following the New Faces of Civil Engineering program for the past four or five years, and I feel extremely honored and privileged to be selected as part of this truly special group.”
For almost two years, ANDREW T. HABLE, A.M.ASCE, lived and worked in Panama in the province of Coclé as an environmental health specialist for the Peace Corps. In that remote area of the country he led two Peace Corps projects dealing with water supply, sanitation, and hygiene, and in that capacity he directly managed a total of 86 construction workers.
The projects involved the construction of a 5.5 km water supply system and a latrine sanitation system in two small villages. The work meant enduring intense heat and heavy rainfalls and walking uphill and over rough terrain for long distances carrying additional weight. Hable helped to lead community meetings, obtain commitments from stakeholders, provide training in hygiene, and carry out baseline surveys of community health indicators. He also oversaw the formulation and management of budgets, accounted for all project expenditures, and carried out construction training and oversight.
“While in Panama I worked with local leaders to help develop leadership and technical capacity within the communities themselves,” explains Hable, who was there from August 2007 to April 2009. “I then worked alongside those leaders to help facilitate water infrastructure and sanitation infrastructure projects. Now they have a system that collects water from a pristine spring from a hill through about five and a half kilometers of pipeline to the community and then distributes it to various points within the community at tap stands. Equally important, the community has used their new leadership and technical skills to expand and improve the system without me. This was something that was incredibly rewarding and one of the things that I am most proud of in my life.”
It was no accident that Hable got involved with international projects.
“Visiting Guatemala [in 2000] I learned of vast resources untapped and children unable to attend school due to poor transportation and water infrastructure,” says Hable, who holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee and a master’s degree in sustainable engineering from the University of Cambridge, in the United Kingdom. “With my degree in hand, I joined the Peace Corps and teamed with locals to implement a water system. I will always remember the overwhelming joy of my Panamanian neighbors when springwater began to flow.”
Returning to the United States, Hable went to work in the Chicago office of AECOM, and one of the projects he has worked on is the $1-billion undertaking to design flood mitigation infrastructure in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah for the oil company Saudi Aramco.
“For the past two years, AECOM has been working with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, especially in Jeddah, to develop solutions to their drainage and flooding problems, which became apparent after devastating floods in 2009 and 2011,” he explains. “Many people died in these floods, and there were huge amounts of property damage. I was selected to be a part of the team that helped plan and design one of the projects that is a part of that program. In the context of rapidly changing conditions, I led the hydrologic and hydraulic engineering for an urban watershed of twelve miles. I employed a dynamic storm-water management model to preliminarily design a seventeen-mile trunk line conveyance and storage [system], providing the basis for detailed design.”
Hable says the trunk line system is currently under construction.
“My personal and professional passion is improving conditions in developing countries, and AECOM has a very large role in that,” says Hable. “Saudi Arabia is not exactly a developing country, but in a similar context, Jeddah was very infrastructure deficient. Lives were being lost due to poor infrastructure, so in that way it was good experience for me toward my higher goal of emphasizing and concentrating in international development.”
Here in the United States, Hable is now working on a study to improve Chicago’s Circle Interchange. In this joint venture, AECOM will be redesigning one of the most congested highway interchanges in the United States for the Illinois Department of Transportation.
“Downtown Chicago’s Circle Interchange has been identified as one of the most congested interchanges in the U.S., primarily by freight measures,” says Hable, who when not working as a civil engineer finds time to play soccer and serve as a referee. “Everybody in Chicago knows this is where all the traffic gets bottlenecked. Now there is a very rapid planning and design process to completely reconstruct the entire interchange system.
“For me, being named a New Face of Civil Engineering is really an affirmation that I’ve made the right career decisions and have chosen wise paths in my professional career. I’m grateful for this honor.”
Upon graduating from the University of Florida in May 2008, DANNI JORGENSON, P.E., A.M.ASCE, hit the ground running. Now well embarked on her career, she is actively involved in her community and in the affairs of the East Central Branch of ASCE’s Florida Section. Indeed, as president of the branch’s Younger Member Forum she has helped to organize and coordinate a number of social and service programs in the Orlando area. In addition to being appointed by the mayor of Orlando to serve on the certification board dealing with businesses owned by women or members of minority groups, she authored a white paper on traffic “evaporation.”
Jorgenson has served as a volunteer coordinator for the Florida Engineering Society’s MATHCOUNTS competition, as a committee member of the East Central Branch’s chapter of ASCE’s Transportation and Development Institute, and as the chair of the Younger Member Forum committee in charge of a P.E. review course, and last July she received the Young Engineer of the Year Award from ASCE’s Florida Section.
“I have always been kind of a shy person, so when I enrolled as a freshman at the University of Florida, I decided that I was going to change that,” recalls Jorgenson, who now works as a transportation engineer in the Orlando office of Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. “Because of my diverse extracurricular activities both during and after college, I believe that I am now more outgoing and more adventurous. All of these experiences have made me a better engineer and have contributed to my leadership skills.
“Also, I am only five feet tall, so it’s kind of fun to be the tiny girl with the tiny voice in a male-dominated industry. And I’m honored to now be recognized for my achievements as one of the New Faces of Civil Engineering.”
One of the things that helped Jorgenson finally overcome her shyness was delivering the student commencement speech at the ceremony held by the University of Florida’s College of Engineering.
“I was really nervous before delivering the speech,” she recalls. “The commencement was held at the [Stephen C.] O’Connell Center, which is where the Gator basketball team plays. It is a very large venue, so it was an intimidating experience. Tim Tebow [a University of Florida graduate and National Football League quarterback] was in the audience, and that did not help with my butterflies! I told a lot of jokes during my speech, and I guess I did well because afterwards I overheard people retelling my jokes.”
Professionally, Jorgenson takes an enthusiastic approach to her work and has applied her skills to such transportation planning and traffic engineering projects in Florida as the Navy Boulevard corridor study in Pensacola and the master plan for the city of Gulf Breeze, and she has provided traffic engineering support for the expansion of Wawa stores into the Florida market. At present she is working on large-scale parking demand analyses and traffic circulation studies for international clients in the Caribbean and the Middle East.
Jorgenson says her passion is incorporating innovative transportation principles into her work in such a way as to create communities that are more livable and healthier.
“I authored a white paper about traffic evaporation [entitled ‘Traffic Evaporation as a Means to Combat Roadway Congestion’], a topic that really interests me. The paper examines induced traffic demand and compares it to traffic evaporation—the phenomenon that explains how and why people choose their travel habits when confronted with congested roadways,” explains Jorgenson. “We have all experienced the situation where another lane is proposed for a highway, and then shortly after that lane is added the highway is congested again. I believe we have to think about more sustainable solutions to the traffic demands of the future.”
“That means a focus on alternative modes of transportation and making streets safer for pedestrians, bikes, and transit users. These are goals that I aim to implement with every single project that I work on.”
Jorgenson also enjoys participating in ASCE outreach projects to engage middle and high school students.
“A favorite recent student outreach event was with middle school students,” she relates. “We did the paper tower challenge, where we gave students five sheets of paper and some tape, asked them to create paper towers, and then load-tested the towers. I have never seen seventh grade students more excited about an engineering project and to learn about buckling, compression, and tension. They were so thrilled; they were laughing and cheering when their paper towers finally buckled. It was really neat for the students to see that just five sheets of paper and some tape can support a load of eighty pounds.
“I imagine that, in a few years, when the students write their college application essays they are going to talk about this experience and say, ‘This is why I want to be an engineer, because in my seventh grade class some ASCE members visited and taught us about engineering, and I am inspired to do the same thing.’”
“Being a New Face of Civil Engineering represents the essence of why I chose to become a civil engineer, to work on a team that develops new products,” says DAVID LIN, P.E., M.ASCE, a project engineer with the Hawaii division of the Tesoro Corporation, which is headquartered in San Antonio. “And developing new products may not necessarily mean designing great structures or anything like that but [rather] building new products to help change people’s lives in a more sustainable world.”
As the community service cochair of the Younger Member Forum (YMF) within ASCE’s Hawaii Section since 2011, Lin has helped organize a number of professional and outreach events. These have included holding a review course for those planning to sit for the P.E. exam, conducting monthly professional development meetings, organizing technical tours of operational facilities and construction projects, participating in the local MATHCOUNTS competition, and taking part in a student outreach event held at the University of Hawaii that challenged elementary school students to build bridges using Popsicle sticks. Lin also organized a project wherein the YMF partnered with the ASCE chapter at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in reconstructing a seawall to protect an important fishpond. For its efforts, the YMF earned ASCE’s 2012 Public Service Award and received a letter of commendation in the competition for the 2012 Younger Member Group Award (small group category).
“Earning this ASCE award last year was kind of interesting because we increased the number of community service events in 2011 without receiving any additional funding,” says Lin, who this year will continue as community service cochair of the YMF and will also be the group’s outreach chair. “We also increased the number of volunteer participants [in 2011] by eighty-five percent, and we did a variety of interesting events, like MATHCOUNTS, high school senior projects, sorting food at food drives, rebuilding retaining walls, and a lot more. We also hosted engineering nights at elementary schools, where we went to different elementary schools and talked about careers in engineering. We must have done something right because they asked us to come back this year.”
The most important thing that Lin says he learned from these volunteer projects is the value of teamwork. To promote networking and team building, he has also helped organize YMF golf outings and field a team in the local softball league.
“For me it was great to see the kids build LEGO towers, Popsicle bridges, and gumdrop structures,” says Lin, whose brother Simon, A.M.ASCE, is employed as a civil engineer for JPL Engineering, Inc., which is headquartered in Las Vegas. “But working as a volunteer also helped build a strong network within the branch, and it also gave me the kind of leadership experience I needed to lead at the engineering nights. The last event we had recently had two hundred people in attendance, and I believe we had three new schools ask us to come to their school.”
As a project engineer, Lin says his job at Tesoro, an independent refiner and marketer of petroleum products, is a multidisciplinary engineering, procurement, and construction position that requires him to manage projects with a variety of aspects, including chemical, electrical, environmental, and safety. “It is kind of an amalgamation of engineering, so you have to know a little bit of each discipline,” he says. “From a civil engineering point of view, you have to deal with a lot of designing, scheduling, and construction, with the main goal of building a quality product on time and budget.”
Lin, who holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of California at Los Angeles, adds, “In 2012 we went through a big turnaround [at Tesoro], and I got kudos from my superior. The old process unit was taken off-line, and we went through a period of renewal. It was really chaotic because we had a small time frame to get new capital equipment installed, so we had to build things within a very short time frame, as every hour cost the company money. But in addition, we had to build things of quality in view of industrial conditions like high temperature or high pressure, and I had to make sure that the foundations are right, the piping is right, and a lot of things go right.
“And I had to be on budget and have a fast turnaround because you never know what might happen. For instance, I found myself having to order a brand new pump—airfreighted on a Saturday night to be in by Monday.”
With regard to the advice he would give young engineers, Lin says, “I would like to say, ‘Don’t ever be afraid of the challenges given to you. At first it could be intimidating because of the unknown, but with the right tools and the right questions this can help you get to the end successfully. I really look at it like climbing a mountain or running a marathon; it is definitely a challenge and it is within your reach if you want it to be.’”
Fascinated with movies and filmmaking, JAMEELAH C. MUHAMMAD, P.E., M.ASCE, a structural engineer in the Chicago office of Parsons Brinckerhoff, recently decided to enroll at Chicago Filmmakers, a filmmaking school, to learn about screenwriting and make a documentary about the role of engineers.
“Instead, I ended up writing a science fiction thriller,” says Muhammad, who holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Princeton University and a master’s degree, also in civil engineering, from the Georgia Institute of Technology. “I am a structural engineer first, but I would still like to focus on making a documentary about engineering. I think I can come up with a way to blend the two. I want to find a way to get an audience, particularly young women, to understand what engineering is and how we can change the world to make it more sustainable.”
Muhammad says her desire to combine civil engineering with film and community outreach with young students reflects the influence of her parents.
“My mother is a professional artist and my father, who was in the [U.S.] Navy, is a computer systems engineer,” she says. “They taught me how to imagine and how to focus to bring my dreams to fruition. Discipline and focus are where it all begins.
“And the specific thing that I dreamed about doing was getting a chance to work on Chicago’s movable bridges—preserving, inspecting, modifying, and enhancing them, which will serve to keep the history of our movable bridges intact.”
Muhammad has experience with the structural design of a range of bridge types and with the structural modification of existing bridges. She has also performed detailed inspections, carried out structural analyses for emergency repairs, and worked on load ratings as part of Chicago’s bridge inspection program. She sees the work as vital in that it prevents bridge collapses, provides information about the structural integrity of bridges, and protects the public.
Muhammad’s department at Parsons Brinckerhoff specializes in movable bridges, and she worked on the rehabilitation of Chicago’s Congress Parkway Bridge, which reopened in May 2012. She is currently the project engineer on work involving a bascule bridge of historical importance. The bridge’s sidewalk is being widened to better accommodate pedestrian and bicycle traffic, and her contributions on this project will help to relieve congestion along the Chicago Lakefront Trail.
“I am working on the structural modification of a historic bascule bridge,” she says. “It’s a double-deck bascule bridge completed in 1937. Essentially, the project is to create a widened bike path, but it is unique in that this path will extend through the existing bridge towers. This poses an interesting challenge.”
In 2002 Muhammad spent three months on a summer internship in Tokyo at the Kajima Technical Research Institute, where she worked in the advanced technology department with the earthquake motion and wind group. She completed a training program that focused on earthquake-resistant design, wind-resistant design, and vibration control for buildings and bridges, and her work involved assessing risks from seismic events, studying the wind environment, the analyzing the interactions between piles and structures. She later found her experience in Japan extremely helpful.
“The Chicago Department of Transportation hosted visitors from Japan who were interested to learn about the bridge inspection program,” says Muhammad, who has studied Japanese. “When my supervisor recalled that I studied Japanese, he said, ‘Oh, why don’t you come to the meeting.’ We walked around the city with the Japanese visitors, and I was able to help facilitate the conversation.”
Outside of work, Muhammad served as chair of the Structural Engineering Institute chapter within ASCE’s Illinois Section in 2012 and was honored with a public involvement award by the section. She also makes presentations and participates in workshops at schools and science museums to encourage students to consider engineering as a career.
“I am very proud of the fact that I am part of preserving our movable bridge history here because it contributes heavily to the safety of the public, keeps our transit system efficient, and helps get people where they need to go,” concludes Muhammad. “What I like to tell students when I talk to them is, ‘As a civil engineer, you can almost see into the future because you will know what is being planned in the city in which you live.’ You don’t need to make a science fiction movie for that.”
Because of her extensive work experience overseas during her career, ABENA OJETAYO, LEED AP, A.M.ASCE, sees her background as somewhat “nontraditional” in comparison with the backgrounds of other civil engineers.
“Even as an undergraduate [at Cornell University] I was one of the few engineering students who pursued an international experience,” recalls Ojetayo, who earned a bachelor’s degree in civil infrastructure and sustainable development and a master’s degree in engineering management there. “For example, in 2005 I worked as an infrastructure planner on a development project for [the organization known as] A World Institute for a Sustainable Humanity on the island of Cephalonia [also known as Kefaloniá], which is on the [western] side of Greece.
“We worked with a small community called Farsa. Historically, it was a really small village but was well established, self-contained, and self-sufficient. Early in the 1950s, the village suffered significant damage from a major earthquake. Since then, most of the community moved away and resettled in another part of the island. [But] years later some community leaders came together and decided to revive their village.”
Ojetayo became part of a team that developed a plan based on the principles of sustainable development that included technical research, site surveying, and mapping. The plan included a proposal for providing transportation, energy, and infrastructure systems for the new settlement.
Ojetayo also recently worked on an Anam City (http://anamcity.com/) project in western Africa, where she managed a multinational technical, design, and development team in planning the infrastructure, architecture, and urban design for a model sustainable city in Africa.
“We completed the master plan,” she says, “and hopefully it will be built, but the power will be in the hands of the community members.”
Currently, as a facilities engineer for Cornell University, Ojetayo seeks to ensure that environmental stewardship figures prominently in the designs of the campus’s engineered systems. In particular, she is now involved in the design of Cornell’s NYC Tech Campus, which the university is constructing in partnership with the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology. The new campus will be in New York City on Roosevelt Island.
“I am part of the project management team for the site development of the new campus, which includes all the utilities and infrastructure [and] the energy and transportation systems that will be constructed on Roosevelt Island to serve the campus,” says Ojetayo. “We are very focused on sustainability and committed to making the campus iconic—not just physically and geographically with the site strategically located between Manhattan and Queens but also as a model of pushing the boundaries of sustainability.
“One of the first buildings [on the campus] will be net zero in energy and LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a program of the U.S. Green Building Council] platinum in design, and all the other buildings will be at least LEED silver. The entire site will incorporate green infrastructure for environmental sustainability.”
The campus will be on the southern part of Roosevelt Island and will replace the Coler Goldwater Specialty Hospital and Nursing Facility.
“Roosevelt Island is a really neat site because it appears isolated but has interesting connections to the city,” says Ojetayo. “So we are looking at ways to draw people in and experience an open campus and [we are] also [creating] a living laboratory for both students and faculty, who would engage with the campus through technology and the built environment.
“I think that I have not necessarily taken the purest path of civil engineering, but receiving this honor from ASCE is encouraging that I have a place with the broader future of our profession. Having read about the past honorees, I was ecstatic [to be selected for the New Faces of Civil Engineering program]; it’s a real honor.”
To VATSAL A. SHAH, P.E., S.M.ASCE, engineering is not simply a degree or a career; rather, it is a thought process that shapes the way one sees the world.
“College,” he says, “won’t teach you engineering. It teaches you how to learn how to think like an engineer. We all should be reminded to be patient and take every opportunity to learn something new. While that may sound easy and trivial, it’s what gives an engineer a solid foundation and credibility to make decisions with confidence in the future.”
Shah spent several weeks in 2011 and 2012 in Haiti assisting the relief efforts organized to help those affected by the devastating earthquake that struck the country in January 2010. While there, he helped design and plan a low-tech wastewater containment and treatment system for the Port-au-Prince area in response to a cholera outbreak.
“My draw to civil engineering,” says Shah, who holds both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in civil engineering (geotechnical) from the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and is presently pursuing a doctorate there, “is because we get to be involved and see our work directly improve the day-to-day aspects of our society and the people around us. It could be designing a high-rise building foundation, inspecting a bridge that my neighbor takes to work, or being involved in a water treatment facility design; all of it will be fixtures used for generations to come.
“I am very honored and humbled at being named one of the ten New Faces of Civil Engineering. It was great to see that ASCE supports and recognizes the contributions of our up-and-coming engineers like myself. I think our duty as well as our direction as engineers is that we want to become more vocal and charismatic to attract the next generation of engineers. And that’s really accomplished by taking part in the community and making people more aware of what we do and how crucial our roles are in their everyday life.”
Upon obtaining a bachelor’s degree from the NJIT in 2008, Shah joined the Millburn, New Jersey, office of Hatch Mott MacDonald and enrolled in graduate school part-time. His engineering position with the firm today involves soil and geological investigations, as well as geotechnical evaluations and recommendations.
His expertise in geotechnical engineering has helped the company’s Millburn-based environmental group complete more than 27 geotechnical projects for clients since 2010, including shoring, slope stability, foundation designs, and geotechnical recommendations, at locations around the United States.
Shah says he routinely oversees projects from start to finish and is involved in all aspects of technical planning, oversight, design, and final reporting. His most recent geotechnical projects have included slope repair for Basket Creek in Long Eddy, New York; a wetlands endeavor in Toms River, New Jersey; and several natural gas compressor stations in the New York metropolitan area. In recognition of his contributions, the Central Jersey Branch of ASCE’s New Jersey Section honored Shah with its 2012 Young Engineer of the Year Award.
“I was also able to develop my passion in geotechnics with the creation of a subgroup within our environmental subdivision that focuses on providing geotechnical services in-house and externally to our clients,” says Shah. “Hatch Mott MacDonald has allowed us the freedom to create and build this subgroup, [and it] has also provided mentoring and direction so this type of work could flourish correctly and become a success. We’ve completed more than twenty-seven projects to date.
“Outside of work, I stay involved in many different engineering organizations and committees, such as the National Society of Professional Engineers, the Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists, Professional Engineers in Construction, and, of course, ASCE.
“I think it’s important to have a work-life balance and give back to the community, so over the last six years I’ve tried to do that with my involvement in the Raytheon and National Society of Professional Engineers–sponsored MATHCOUNTS competition program, as well as cofounding the NJIT Engineers Without Borders chapter when I was a senior at NJIT.”
Shah says that his interest in engineering began early, as he was often taken to inspect pile foundations and see how asphalt, concrete, and soil could be used to support a large variety of projects, both large and small. Both his father and his grandfather worked in civil engineering and architecture. “Growing up,” he recalls, “they taught me successful [engineering] solutions aren’t always expensive and intricate but are often innovative, simple, and cost effective.
“Developing the ability to think and see like an engineer at an early age is critical in building successful engineers, which is also why I enjoy my outreach to middle school kids and speaking at high school programs on our roles as engineers.”
There was a period in the 20th century when salt was being harvested in three areas along the southern part of San Francisco Bay, namely, Eden Landing, Ravenswood, and Alviso. In 2003 the State of California purchased the land from Cargill, Inc., and afterward the California Department of Fish and Game, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the California State Coastal Conservancy launched a four-year process to design a restoration plan for the land. The final plan, known as the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project, was adopted in 2008, and the first phase of restoration started later that year.
“I started working on that project when I moved out to California six years ago,” says JUSTIN VANDEVER, P.E., M.ASCE, who from 2007 to 2010 was a staff engineer and task manager for the California State Coastal Conservancy and assisted in the preliminary and final designs of the work to be carried out in the first phase. His work included hydraulic modeling, setting design criteria for water control structures, collecting field data, preparing design memoranda, carrying out engineering calculations, and estimating costs.
“I personally think that it was a very valuable project; the San Francisco Bay has lost more than ninety percent of historic wetlands, so this project is trying to restore about fifteen thousand acres of wetland habitat,” he says. “I worked on the project in multiple phases, including the preliminary through final designs. So seeing this project through is really satisfying when you see these restoration projects actually get constructed. There are a few of these sites along the bay [now completed] that I had a hand in, so it is really satisfying to go out there, to walk along the trail and along the levee, and to see these sites and know what they looked like before and now. I now see vegetation, water, and birds, which is pretty satisfying, so I am very proud of that.”
Now a coastal engineer in the San Francisco office of AECOM, Vandever has project experience in tidal and estuarine hydraulics, sea level rise inundation mapping, coastal processes and flooding, water wave mechanics, and the design of coastal and estuarine restoration and monitoring projects. His current work at AECOM supports coastal and estuarine projects in San Francisco Bay and along the Pacific coast.
“I work on a variety of projects for AECOM, and I like to think of myself as both an engineer and a scientist,” explains Vandever, who holds a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from Cornell University and a master’s degree in marine science from the College of William and Mary. “As a scientist I focus on the natural processes of the coastal systems—waves, tides, and sediment transport. Then as an engineer my job is to take that knowledge and apply it to real-world problems and applications. That can be looking at hydraulic modeling or designing water control structures as part of a restoration project or looking at flood and inundation and erosion hazards either for exiting conditions or future conditions and the response of sea level rise in communities. [This work can] help them better understand what their vulnerabilities are and where they need to focus their maintenance or improvement to cope with future anticipated flooding that they might experience with sea level.”
Vandever’s most recent work at AECOM has included a climate adaptation and coastal resiliency strategy for the port of Long Beach, California; a sea level rise adaptation strategy for the City of San Francisco in relation to San Francisco Bay; and sea level rise inundation mapping in San Francisco for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Ames Research Center.
“I really do believe that the type of coastal engineering work that I do is kind of coming of age,” notes Vandever, who in 2012 earned a certificate in coastal engineering from Old Dominion University. “I think the [San Francisco] Bay Area is kind of leading the country in hazard mitigation and climate change adaptation and planning. [Coastal engineers] here have learned a lot in those areas and can share that with the rest of the engineering community.
“I am very excited and honored to be selected as a New Face of Civil Engineering. I have been a member of ASCE for a while now, so I think it a world-class organization and it is nice to be recognized. Sometimes when you are putting in the long hours and trying to meet deadlines, you sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture. So it is nice to know that the hard work pays off. I am really looking forward to what is coming in the future.”