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10 Questions with a CI Young Professional: Ryan Sauer

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

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The members of CI's Young Professionals Council are an accomplished and energetic group of young engineers who are making substantial contributions to CI's events and activities. We've invited them to enable you to get to know them by answering 10 questions, and, each month, we will feature one of the council's members.

Ryan Sauer, A.M.ASCE, is a Construction Executive with PC Construction based in South Burlington, VT. He is responsible for projects in NY, NH and VT. He was one of the Co-Founders of CI's Younger Members Directorate, now Young Professionals Council, and is returning to the CI Board of Governors in 2018.

  1. Education? - I began college at Florida Southern College, then transferred and graduated from Clarkson University with a BASc in Civil Engineering.
  2. When was the first time you stepped on a construction site? - Shortly after I was able to walk -- I grew up in a construction family. My father used to bring me to project sites. There are many photos of family members and me on construction equipment.
  3. What inspired you to choose engineering/construction? - It really was growing up in a construction family. I started working for the family business as early as it was allowed. I started off as a laborer, and was typically at the bottom of a trench or shoveling (family business was a sitework company). I worked my way up to an equipment operator and later a foreman. I was always interested in the work and the opportunity to be a part of building things. Really working in the craft has also helped shape my career, as you have a much better appreciation of what it is like to be inside a trench box with a shovel, welding or being in a pump station.
  4. What is your favorite project you've worked on? - I would say it was the Willis Avenue Bridge replacement in Harlem and the Bronx, NY. (Also home to CI's second Student Days event in 2009). The $612m project consisted of the complete removal and replacement of the Willis Avenue swing bridge including all approach work. The project was built while maintaining traffic at all times. I had the opportunity to be a part of the estimate team for the project and once construction started was involved with and managed much of the critical path deep foundation work on the project. We had a very strong team on the project and many of the people involved in the project were true mentors to me. The lessons I learned on this project continue to help shape my career. Growing up in a town of approximately 300 people, I used to always say there were more people on that job than in the town I grew up in!
  5. What is the most interesting task you have been asked to do on the job? - I took on the role of Design Build Manager on the Clinton CSO Project in Syracuse, NY. The job started as a traditional Design-Bid-Build Project. I was part of the estimate team who looked at many potential ways to construct this project. The owner's scheme was to utilize 3 soft ground tunnels, but our team saw the opportunity to open cut the area, which was about 1,000' long x 60' wide and 50' deep, as much more feasible and economical. Our design build approach to the project was really a fast process. We had four independent engineering firms working on this process to completely redesign the project in just a few months, all of which had to be reviewed and approved by the owner's engineering team, and maintain the construction schedule. 
  6. What is the most challenging task you have been asked to do? - Every project has its own unique challenges. That is part of the fun of working in construction. A couple of notable challenges I and the teams I have worked with have faced include flying micropile equipment into wetlands in New Jersey with helicopters; removing and replacing two Amtrak bridges in a 54hr shut down; and building a two and a half story addition on an active hospital pharmacy, with no down time. Every project is a new challenge looking to be embraced!
  7. How did you get involved in the Construction Institute? - I have to give a huge thanks to Hank Adams of Kiewit for getting me involved in CI. During his tenure on the CI board he invited me to attend a CI event with him. While attending the event, I and two others took on the opportunity to create the CI Younger Members Directorate, now called the Young Professionals Council. This has been an outstanding opportunity for me to take on a leadership role within CI. I am really proud of the things our group has achieved with the success of Student Days , and am really excited about the group's continued growth. One struggle many young professionals have is having a manager or mentor who will support them being involved in organizations outside of the company structure. Hank, who was a role model and mentor to me, always made sure I had the opportunity to be involved in CI and I am greatly appreciative of his support. I am really excited to be doing a second tour of duty on the CI board starting in 2018, having served from 2012-2014 when I was Chair of the Younger Members Directorate. 
  8. What team do you root for? - I'm a huge fan of the Washington Redskins! #HTTR (Hail to the Redskins!)
  9. Do you have any secret talents? - My secret talent is making very elaborate pancakes with my daughters every weekend. We do things ranging from Elephants to Bulldozers to 3-D Bridges and, of course, Princesses.
  10. What was your first job? - I worked as a laborer for my family's construction company. This opportunity really has helped me in my career - I feel this gave me a true appreciation of what the people on my projects are really doing. I would strongly encourage people going into the construction industry to take at least a summer position working in the field; it will help you tremendously in the long run!