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2020 Rising Stars

2020 Rising Stars

In the past month, Zweig Group has been preparing to announce all of our 2020 Award Winners. This has been especially important for us this year as we honor the outstanding firms in this industry during a time like none other than we have seen. The “celebrate” tenet of our mission has taken on a whole new meaning given all of the challenges we are all facing right now. Even though celebrations of our accomplishments may look a bit different in 2020, celebrating those accomplishments in some way is more important now more than ever. Beyond the physical or virtual celebrations, I want to dive into a bit of the data to celebrate some great statistics to come out of this year’s Hot Firm and Best Firms To Work For data.

Sharing revenue data firm-wide is a great tool to help create a positive and open culture at your firm. It helps keep all employees informed about the health and strength of the company. The percentage of firms that share revenue data at least annually rose quite dramatically in 2019. 88 percent of firms share their revenue data at least annually compared to 79 percent in 2018.

The Best Firms To Work For don’t just offer a great work environment.  They also compensate their employees and take care of them financially. 92 percent of permanent staff received a pay raise in 2019, and no firms administered pay cuts. Firms also paid out and average of over $8,500 in bonuses per employee last year. The average number of PTO days was just under a total of 20 days per year and the number of paid holidays was 9 per year.

2020 has presented a number of unique challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic. Firms have had to completely re-adjust how they conduct business and how to best take care of their employees. There is a silver lining given these challenges. 92 percent of employees have been satisfied or very satisfied with their firm’s COVID-19 response. This shows that our industry has been about to adjust well the such a unique challenge. Another good sign is that employees ranked communication the lowest of challenges working remotely. Normally, communication is considered one of the weaknesses for firms in the AEC industry. Hopefully, we can at least keep up good communication once things get back to the new normal.

We did see some very impressive growth from our Hot Firm winners this year. The average dollar revenue growth from the end of fiscal year 2016 to the end of fiscal year 2019 was $31.5 million which is $2.6 million higher than the average for 2019 Hot Firm winners. The average percentage growth rate held steady year over year at 81 percent. The average Gross Service Revenue per FTE is up slightly over 2019 at $204,500. This is great news. It shows that there is real growth going on in the industry, helping to create and retain good, high paying jobs. This is something we can all celebrate right now.

Zweig Group’s Awards Program, Hot Firm, Best Firms To Work For, Marketing Excellence, Rising Stars, Top New Venture, and Jerry Allen Courage in Leadership, offer such a wide variety of ways for firms in the AEC industry to honor and celebrate their achievements. I wish I could go through all of the impressive data that we get through the awards, but I am glad I can celebrate some of the real highlights from the 2020 award winners. Things are certainly very tough right now, and we recognize and appreciate that. Don’t let that stop you from celebrating what makes your firm so great!

Kyle Ahern is the Awards Manager at Zweig Group. He can be reached at kahern@zweiggroup.com.

Rising Stars in Civil Engineering

Monica Heil, PE

Vice President of Municipal Services


Minneapolis, Minnesota

Heil is a civil engineer who has served Minnesota communities for over 15 years.  She is a civil engineer with a deep understanding of the operational and maintenance needs associated with municipal engineering.  Heil is known to attack projects and challenges head on, which led to her being named to WSB’s second-highest leadership position.  This position allows her to continue having a profound impact on the communities she serves.


  • Street Reconstruction Projects, Lakeville, MN, Project Engineer and Manager
  • Street Improvement Project. Rosemount, MN, Project Manager
  • Holyoke Avenue and Lakeville Area Arts Center Improvement Projects, Project Manager

Public/Professional Service: American Public Works Association—Minnesota Chapter (APWA-MN), Chair, Executive Committee

Education: B.S. Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota—Twin Cities


Josh Shaver, PE

Project Manager

LJA Engineering

Houston, Texas

Josh Shaver has been practicing in the oil and gas pipeline, process, energy, industrial facilities, and OEM equipment fields since 2007.  He began working in the LJA Engineering Energy sector as a junior engineer, climbing the ranks upwards through Senior Project Engineer, and now Project Manager.  This rise is due in part to his ability to lead other engineers and quickly adapt to the changing needs of clients.


  • Pipeline Construction Projects (8” and 6”), Various Locations

Public/Professional Service: Professional Engineering Licensure in 15 states across the U.S., American Society of Mechanical Engineers, member, Gas Machinery Research Council, Project Supervisor Committee

Education: B.S. Mechanical Engineering, University of Texas—Arlington


Gordon Greene, PE

Executive Vice President

Patel, Greene & Associates, LLC

Bartow, Florida

Gordon Greene has built a career upon management, leadership, and public service.  He has been an integral part of PGA’s 5-year strategic plan and has helped grow the firm from its initial two employees to now over 75.  Greene is also active within his community, serving several projects and projects throughout Bartow and the state.


  • Polk Pathway 3D/AMG Pilot Project (Florida Turnpike), Project Manager, Roadway Engineer of Record
  • West Pipkin Road Widening, Polk County, FL, Project Manager, Roadway/Drainage Engineer of Record
  • SR 64 at Rye Road Roundabout (FDOT District One): Deputy Project Manager, Drainage Engineer of Record

Public/Professional Service: American Council of Engineering Companies of Florida (ACEC-FL), member, Florida Engineering Society, Ridge Branch, Florida Engineering Leadership Institute (FELI)

Education: M.B.A., University of South Florida, B.S. Civil Engineering, University of South Florida


Elizabeth Bartell, PE

Project Manager/Senior Drainage Project Engineer

Patel, Greene & Associates, LLC

Winter Park, Florida

Elizabeth (Liz) Bartell has only recently transitioned to project management within the last two years, but the amount and quality of her work is exceptional.  In the last year alone, Bartell has been the Drainage Engineer of Record for over fifteen FDOT projects, being project manager for two of them.  Colleagues and coworkers praise Bartell for her ability to juggle multiple issues and deadlines in an organized and efficient manner.


  • Polk Parkway Resurfacing and Safety Upgrades Project (Florida Turnpike Enterprise), Drainage Engineer of Record

Public/Professional Service: American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Turnpike Liaison Committee, Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS), Florida Water Environment Association (FWEA), local chair, ElevateHer, Class of 2020

Education: M.B.A., University of Florida, M.S. Industrial and Systems Engineering, University of Florida, B.S. Engineering Science, Smith College


Michael Mallonee

Regional Manager, Manager of Aviation Planning Services

KSA Engineers, Inc.

McKinney, Texas

Michael Malonee began his career in Aviation planning in 2006 and has risen rapidly.  His career interests have ranged from encouraging students to pursue careers in aviation to developing master airport plans in the North Texas region.  Malonee currently oversees commercial and general aviation projects across the Southwest region.


  • Austin Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA) Planning
  • $1.7 Billion Capital Improvement Program

Public/Professional Service: North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee Aviation Action Team, member, Ground Transportation Coordination Team, chair, Fort Worth, Irving, McKinney-Independent School District(s) Aviation Advisory Committee(s), member, Air Transportation Technical Advisory Committee (ATTAC), staff liason, Aircraft Owners and Pilot Association, member, American Association of Airport Executives, member, American Planning Association, member

Education: B.S. Aviation Management, Southern Illinois University, M.S. Aeronautical Science, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University


Joseph Losaria, PE

VP/Structures Group Manager

Patel, Greene & Associates, LLC

Temple Terrace, Florida

Joseph Losaria has been involved in over 30 bridge projects over his 19-year career.  On top of that, he has also served as the Engineer of Record on six bridges in his home state of Florida.  Losaria has extensive project design experience from short span bridges to complex multi-span bridges.  He also provides invaluable research for the Florida Department of Transportation as they apply Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) materials in highway structures.


  • US 41 over North Creek and Catfish Creek, FDOT, Structural Engineer of Record
  • Valee Road over Blue Creek, FDOT, Project Manager/Roadway Engineer of Record/Structural Engineer of Record
  • Fort Lauderdale Airport Runway/Taxiway Extension over US 1, engineer

Public/Professional Service: American Society of Civil Engineers, member, Florida Engineering Society, member, Florida Engineering Leadership Institute (FELI), 2018 graduating class

Education: M.S., B.S from University of South Florida


Cooper Allison, PE, PLS

Senior Project Manager/Civil Engineer

Lea & Braze Engineering

Hayward, California

Cooper Allison has been busy early in his career, serving as lead civil designer and project manager for over a hundred different projects.  He has also demonstrated his passion for the profession by engaging with clients and building a strong team by mentoring new civil engineers; he now oversees a team of four full-time engineers and two civil technicians.  Allison’s mentorship is active, and he encourages his staff to pursue licensure.


  • Ellison Conservation Center for Wildlife Care (Peninsula Humane Society)
  • Habitat for Humanity, Capitol Way Project

Public/Professional Service: Lions Club International

Education: B.S. in Civil Engineering, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo


Rising Stars in Structural Engineering

Armita Mohammadian, PhD, PE

Senior Research Engineer

FDH Infrastructure Services

Raleigh, North Carolina

Dr. Mohammadian’s contributions to the engineering profession have been profound.  Her ability to foster dynamic, multidisciplinary collaborations, combined with an unwaivering pursuit of creative solutions to the problems of aging infrastructure, help drive technological innovations that support the resilience and longevity of critical infrastructure in our increasingly interconnected world.


  • Concrete Facilities Assessment, Lead Research Engineer
  • KPR India, Foundation Investigation, Lead Research Engineer
  • Engineer Research and Development Center, Lifecycle Characterization Principal Investigator
  • Engineer Research and Development Center, Underwater Inspection, Lead Investigator
  • Louisiana Transportation Research Center (LTRC), Primary Technical Reviewer

Public/Professional Service: Transportation Research Board (TRB), National Academy of Sciences, Affiliate Member, Deep Foundations Institute, member, American Wind Energy Association, committee member, American Society of Civil Engineers, member, Structural Engineering Institute, member

Education: B.S. in Civil Engineering, Khaje Nasir Toosi University of Technology (Tehran, Iran), M.S. in Civil/Structural Engineering, Sharif University of Technology (Tehran, Iran), Ph.D. in Civil Engineering, North Carolina State University


Aysegul Gogus, PhD, PE, SE



Los Angeles, California

Dr. Gogus began her career with Arup in 2010 and quickly climbed in the industry. She has worked on 30 projects to date, holding roles such as lead structural engineer, project manager, peer-reviewer, performance based seismic design specialist, and advanced seismic analyst.  Furthermore, Dr. Gogus was awarded the SEAOC Nabih Youssef Young Engineers award for two projects.


  • Basaksehir Pine and Sakura City Hospital, Istanbul, Turkey, Project Manager and Lead Structural Engineer
  • Scripps Mercy Hospital, San Diego, California, Design Lead

Public/Professional Service: Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, member, Structural Engineers Association of California, member, American Society of Civil Engineers, member

Education: B.S. in Civil Engineering, Middle East Technical University (Ankara, Turkey), M.S. in Strucutral Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles, Ph.D. in Structural Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles


Samantha E. Brummell, PE, M. ASCE

Project Engineer

Thornton Tomasetti

New York, New York

Samantha Brummell has earned the title of Rising Star early in her career.  She has already become a licensed engineer, fulfilled a need for a young members group within the structural engineering community, and was been elected to leadership positions.  These accomplishments exemplify one of Brummell’s strongest traits: the ability to recognize and fulfill needs.


  • Kennedy Space Center (NASA), Facilities Department Construction
  • Brooklyn Methodist New York-Presbyterian Hospital
  • Greenwich Lane Condominiums

Public/Professional Service: SEAoNY Student Outreach Committee, chair, SEAoNY Young Members Group, founder, NCSEA Code Advisory Committee, General Requirements Subcommittee, records keeper

Education: B.S. in Civil Engineering, Cornell University, M.E. in Structural Engineering, Cornell University


Rising Stars in Full Service Engineering

Matthew J. Fahrenbach, PE, LEED AP

Professional Associate/Senior Structural Engineer

HDR, inc.

Princeton, New Jersey

Matthew Fahrenbach has an elite level of experience in the design and construction of highly complex and challenging building projects; he has worked on a wide variety of project types including research and development, pharmaceutical, biological, medical, bio-safety containment, educational, offices, and healthcare facilities.  Additionally, Fahrenbach has embraced a leadership position, guiding his teams from concept design through construction administration.


  • Penn Medicine Patient Pavillion, Lead Project Structural Engineer
  • Hartford Bone & Joint Institute, Lead Project Structural Engineer
  • Fort Sam Houston Battlefield Health & Trauma Facility, Lead Project Structural Engineer
  • U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit, Building 67 Modernization, Lead Project Structural Engineer
  • U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases Biomedical Research, Project Structural Engineer

Public/Professional Service: Delaware Valley Association of Structural Engineering (DVASE), member, University of Kansas, Structural Engineering Conference, presenter

Education: B.S. Architectural Engineering, Pennsylvania State University, University Park


Joseph M. Avram, PE, LEED AP BD+C

Aviation Group Manager

Primera Engineers

Chicago, Illinois

Joseph Avram has nearly 15 years of experience working in the transportation industry, focusing on project and team management.  For the last nine years he has primarily worked on a wide variety of airport and airline projects ranging from runways and taxiways, deicing facilities and ramp control towers, hangars and aprons, ground equipment maintenance facilities, fuel and glycol distributions stations, and corporate data centers.  Avram is also an active member of the professional community, participating in a number of professional organizations with the aim of elevating the industry.


  • American Airline Hangar 2 Facility, Civil Project Manager
  • O’Hare International Airport Lead Tunnel Project, Lead Airfield Engineer

Public/Professional Service: Airport Consultants Council Young Professionals, member, American Council of Engineering Companies, Illinois Department of Transportation (ACEC-IDOT), Aeronautics committee member, Airports Council International—North America (ACI-NA), Business Diversity Committee, Illinois Society of Professional Engineers (ISPE), MATHCOUNTS volunteer, Chicago Engineers Foundation, Board of Directors

Education: M.S. in Civil Engineering, Purdue University, MBA, Northern Illinois University, B.S. in Civil Engineering, Bradley University


Hossein Roshani, PhD, PE, M. ASCE

Project Manager

Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, Inc. (LAN)

San Antonio, Texas

Dr. Roshani’s career is built around three cores: teaching, research, and public service.  His location in San Antonio allows him to teach undergraduate courses at UTSA, which means he can mentor the younger generation.  Furthermore, Roshani has made significant research contributions to the field by way of civil engineering; he has also worked with the local community by managing several street rehabilitation projects in San Antonio.


  • 5-Year Street Maintenance Program—City of San Antonio, Program Manager
  • 2018 Street Rehabilitation Packages—City of San Antonio, Project Manager
  • 2020 Flatwork Construction Management—City of San Antonio, Program Manager
  • Accelerating Innovation in Partnered Pavement Preservation—TxDOT, Post-Docural Researcher

Public/Professional Service: American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) member, Highway Construction Committee, member, Transportation Research Board (TRB), member

Education: B.S. in Civil Engineering, University of Mazandaran, M.S. in Road and Transportation Engineering, University of Guilan, Ph.D. in Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA)


Dedra A. Ecklund, PE

Project Manager

Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, Inc. (LAN)

Conroe, Texas

Dedra Ecklund has focused her career on the management and design of water and wastewater systems for public entities. She has designed or managed more than 50 projects ranging in construction cost from $150,000 to $200 million for cities throughout the state of Texas. She has also given back to the profession, starting a program called Public Speaking for Engineers which encourages engineers to become comfortable with public speaking.


  • Southeast Transmission Water Line (SETL), Project Manager
  • Lift Station Evaluations—Pearland, Texas, Project Manager
  • Water Plant No. 3—The Woodlands, Texas, Project Manager
  • Sanitary Sewer Rehabilitation for Emerald Forest Utility District, Designer and Engineer-of-Record

Public/Professional Service: American Water Works Association—Texas Section (TAWWA), Diversity Committee Co-Chair, Sterling Ridge Village Association (SRVA), board member, Education for Tomorrow Alliance (EFTA), volunteer

Education: B.S. in Agricultural Engineering, Texas A&M University


Mathew L. Busby, PE

Project Manager

Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, Inc. (LAN)

Dallas, Texas

Mathew Busby’s 12 years of career experience have included water and wastewater treatment, facilities, roadway, and pipeline design.  He began his career in land development, serving as a project engineer responsible for site design and coordinating the platting and development processes with cities across the region.  Subsequently, Mathew was promoted to project manager where he worked on a variety of projects, including land development, construction inspection, drainage utilities and roadway.


  • City of Gunter Downtown Wastewater Treatment Plant, Project Manager and Designer
  • Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Project(s), Project Manager, Project Engineer
  • Sachse Southeast Water and Wastewater Improvements, Project Manager, Engineer-of-Record

Public/Professional Service: Texas Society of Professional Engineers, member, Texas Public Works Association, member, Dallas CANstruction Team, co-chair, Hart Center for Engineering Leadership—Southern Methodist University, volunteer

Education: B.S. in Civil Engineering, Southern Methodist University

Rising Stars in Multidiscipline Engineering

Wheeler Crook, PE

Vice President of Engineering

Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood, Inc.

Montgomery, Alabama

Wheeler Crook possesses a unique set of engineering and interpersonal skills that allowed him to be placed in GMC’s Water Resources & Treatment Division within 3 years of joining the firm.  His ability to design and manage engineering and construction of large-scale infrastructure projects alongside individuals with decades of experience has been a contributing factor in furthering his career in the engineering field.  Currently, Wheeler serves as Vice President of Engineering, managing business development efforts, project managers, and the design of all civil and municipal projects across central and south Alabama, in addition to special projects throughout the Southeast. He has been a crucial part of the firm’s success, bringing an energy and drive that is truly unmatched.


  • Gadsden MIEX Treatment Facility (Gadsden, AL), Project Manager/Engineer
  • Wolf Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade (Foley, AL), Project Manager
  • Anderson Regional Joint Water System Membrane Plant Expansion (Anderson, SC), Engineer
  • Gautier Water Treatment Ion Exchange System (Gautier, MS), Project Manager/ Design Engineer
  • Camp Merrill Sewage Collection System (Dahlonega, GA), Project Manager

Public/Professional Service: Alabama Water Environment Association, member, Water Environment Federation, member, American Water Works Association, member

Education: Bachelor of Civil Engineering, Auburn University, Bachelor of Science, Birmingham-Southern College


Dusty Eaton, AIA, LEED AP


A&E Design

Billings, Montana

As CEO of A&E Design, one of the region’s largest and longest-standing design firms, Dusty Eaton leads the practice with talent, heart, and drive.  He is passionate about design, and holds the rare ability to make others not only feel his passion, but adopt it for themselves. Dusty leads with the philosophy of “fail fast,” encouraging staff to explore new ideas, learn from failures, and keep moving forward. While he is strategic in all actions, he is realistic about failure and transparent about its inevitability. He understands that it is how one responds to failure, not failure itself, that is most important.


  • Medicine Crow Middle School, Billings Public School System
  • Norm Asbjornson Hall (Montana State University), Lead Architect
  • MSU Innovation Campus (Montana State University), Principal-in-Charge

Public/Professional Service: Leadership Billings. Eagle Mount and Western Security Bank, Board of Directors

Education: Master of Architecture, Montana State University, B.A. in Environmental Design, Montana State University


Kim Sumrak, PE

Civil Engineer

Hanson Professional Services, Inc.

Lisle, Illinois

Kim Sumrak has contributed to a variety of projects, including roadways and hurricane relief. Her broad background includes assessing sanitary and storm sewer manholes and inlets, producing drainage designs, providing cost estimates and serving as a representative at public information meetings. Sumrak is a licensed engineer in Illinois, Iowa, and Kansas. Her efforts to expand her skills and licensing are evidence of her desire to continue her path of excellence in engineering. One of Kim’s most outstanding qualities is her willingness to step up for her Hanson teammates, from earning certifications to mentoring junior staff members and coordinating interns.


  • Indiana Department of Transportation State Road 38 – Dayton to U.S. Route 421
  • Indiana Department of Transportation U.S. Route 52 – Templeton to Fowler
  • Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities’ Glenn Highway Capacity Improvements
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance Program Hurricane Irma Disaster Relief
  • San Patricio County Road Improvement Project
  • Illinois State Toll Highway Authority Tri-State Tollway Planning, Master plan and Roadway Study (Cermak Road to Balmoral Avenue)

Public/Professional Service: Kansas Society of Professional Engineers member, National Society of Professional Engineers member, American Council of Engineering Companies member

Education: B.S. in Civil Engineering, University of Iowa


Omar El Masri, Ph.D, EIT

Project Manager

Fisher Associates

Rochester, New York

Omar El Masri is a structural engineer with project design, teaching and research expertise. His design experience includes bridge rehabilitation and replacement design, in-depth structural inspections, and steel design for industrial buildings. He is an excellent mentor to young engineers due to his background as a researcher and Adjunct Professor at Syracuse University, where he earned his Ph.D. Omar is passionate about research and analyzing real-world bridge-related issues with the intent that his research not only makes him a better design engineer, but provides solutions that improve the life of bridge infrastructure.


  • A Cost-Effective Method to Retrofit Steel Girders
  • Effect of Transient Thermal Gradient on Stresses in Composite Bridges

Public/Professional Service: Association for Bridge Construction and Design (ABCD), member, American Institute of Streel Construction (AISC), member, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), associate member, Structural Engineering Institute (SEI), associate member

Education: Ph.D. in Civil Engineering, Syracuse University,  M.S. in Civil & Environmental Engineering, Lebanese American University, B.E. in Civil Engineering, Lebanese American University


Danielle Nygren, PE

Civil Project Engineer

Westwood Professional Services, Inc.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Danielle Nygren is a shining star within Westwood Professional Services’ (Westwood) industry-leading wind energy team. At age 28, she is in command of Westwood’s top wind client. In this role she has primary responsibility for overseeing the design and construction of their industry-leading wind portfolio. Her commitment to excellence continues to set the standard for civil engineering design practices in today’s clean energy economy.


  • Hale Wind Project, Designer/Project Manager
  • Sagamore Wind Project, Designer
  • Freeborn and Worth County Wind Project, Designer

Public/Professional Service: Society of Women Engineers (SWE), North Dakota State University Chapter, Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy, Twin Cities Chapter

Education: B.S. in Civil Engineering, North Dakota State University