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2022 Rising Stars in the AEC Industry

2022 Rising Stars in the AEC Industry

It’s awards season–the time of the year we start honoring and celebrating some of the amazing accomplishments of people and firms in the AEC Industry. There is no better way to start than by recognizing those young professionals who have already made an impact through exceptional technical capability, leadership ability, effective teaching or research, or public service. 

The 2022 Rising Stars in the AEC Industry have benefited the design profession, their employers, project owners, and society. Our winners this year hold a diverse skill set and technical capabilities and have done outstanding work in their communities. They are already leaders and mentors in their firms, bringing new ideas, practices, and impacts beyond their technical capabilities. They come from all over North America and beyond–from Guam to New York, from Houston to Chicago. This year we have everyone from Presidents and Principals of firms to EIT Civil Engineers. This shows that no matter where you are in a company, you can be a Rising Star in this industry.

I also want to take the time to acknowledge all of the people who nominated all of our winners and those who did not win this year. Recognition of a young professional’s accomplishments, skill, leadership, etc. can go a long way in that young professional’s career. The knowledge that there is someone out there who recognizes what they are doing and takes the time to nominate them for an award like this is very important. I would encourage everyone to try to think of that young professional in your firm that deserves this type of credit. Letting the next generation of leaders know that their work is getting noticed is not only good for their career but can be very helpful for the long term success of your firm.

Through our awards program, we also recognize revenue growth with our Hot Firm List. We recognize outstanding marketing through our Marketing Excellence Awards. We recognize those who are showing courageous leadership with our highest professional honor, The Jerry Allen Courage In Leadership Award. We honor those new firms who are already making an impact with our Top New Venture Award. And we honor those firms impacting their employee’s live by creating great workplaces with our Best Firms To Work For award. We will be announcing and celebrating these winners over the next few months culminating with our awards celebrations at the 2022 Elevate AEC Conference in Las Vegas.

Zweig Group’s Awards are at the center of one of the five tenets of our vision, Elevate the Industry; that tenant is “Celebrate.” There is so much good that this industry brings to the built environment and to the lives of the people who work in it. We want to celebrate the firms, people, and accomplishments of the AEC Industry. These awards give the winning firms and people the recognition that they deserve in an industry that is often overlooked by society. The winners of our awards truly do help to elevate the industry as a whole. Celebrate your success, celebrate your accomplishments, celebrate your employees, and help Zweig Group Elevate the Industry.

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

Rising Stars in Multidisciplinary Engineering

Hillary Aton, PE

Water Resources Project Manager

Thomas & Hutton

Mt. Pleasant, SC

Hillary Aton started her career at Thomas & Hutton in 2015 as a Water Resources Designer and quickly advanced to a Project Engineer within two years and Project Manager by 2020.  Aton oversees various civil and water-resources related projects, from initiation through design and construction, serving multiple clients , including many local government agencies.  Aton’s success is driven by a positive attitude and a sense of pride and responsibility, which has allowed her to grow and step into the role of master communicator, presenting project updates to stakeholders at neighborhood meetings, local government councils, HOAs, and private developers with ease.

Accomplishments/Projects: Drainage Improvement Studies – Forest Acres (City of Charleston), Phase 3 Drainage (City of Isle of Palms), Old Village (Town of Mount Pleasant), and Arbor Oaks (Town of Summerville), SCE&G Williams Station Spill Prevention (Berkeley County), Volvo Manufacturing Plant (Berkeley County)

Education: MS in Civil Engineering, Clemson University, BS in Civil and Environmental Engineering, The Citadel

Professional/Public Service: Berkeley County Habitat for Humanity, American Society of Civil Engineers, Member, Environmental Water Resources Institute, Member, American Public Works Association, Lowcountry Branch Secretary, National Association of Women in Construction, Palmetto Chapter, Founding Member

Aaron Lauinger

Market Director–Transportation and Water


Fargo, ND

Aaron Lauinger’s 16-year history serving Midwest and Western clients covers multiple civil engineering disciplines. He has transformed Ulteig’s transportation and water sectors, serving as market director since 2017. His strategic leadership resulted in new markets in Colorado and Texas, resulting in a 90 percent growth rate and service offering expansions through new traffic, environmental, and bridge teams. Aaron created the “Energy and Infrastructure” podcast and published thought leadership on electric vehicle impacts to the AEC industry. Aaron has a passion for teaching, mentorship, coaching, and advocating for diversity and women in engineering.

Accomplishments/Projects: Williston Basin International Airport (XWA), Project Executive

Education: BS in Civil Engineering, North Dakota State University

Professional/Public Service: American Council of Engineering Companies, North Dakota, CEO/Key Transportation Principal Committee, ACEC National, Energy and Water, Engineering Change Labs, Planning Committee, AWWA Member

Rima Abisaad, PhD, EIT

Civil Engineer

EnTech Engineering, PC

New York, NY

Rima Abisaad began her career at EnTech Engineering by providing design devices for the firm’s civil engineering team, but her passion for continuous learning and research soon distinguished her as a leader in the field.  Abisaad is driven to transportation engineering because it combines the civil and traffic engineering disciplines, which allows her to focus her work on creating sustainable designs that keep people safe and get them where they need to be.  Abisaad represents a rising generation of transportation engineering professionals that is ready to take on current and future challenges such as climate change and increased use of electric and smart technologies.

Accomplishments/Projects: Van Wyck Expressway Expansion, JFK Airport Terminal One, Civil3D Modeling, Project Lead

Education: PhD in Transportation Engineering, New Jersey Institute of Technology, BS in Civil Engineering, Lebanese American University, Beirut

Professional/Public Service: Transportation Club of NJIT, member, NJIT Intelligent Transportation Society, President, NJIT Institute of Transportation Engineers, President

Conner R. Maines, PE, NSSA AP

Project Manager

JQ Engineering, LLP

Dallas, TX

Conner Maines has been able to rise rapidly in the Structural Engineering industry based on his demonstrated capacities for project design and management, leadership, and public service.  An in-depth knowledge and grasp of technical issues has allowed Maines to participate in some of the more complex public sector projects undertaken by his firm.  In just under three years with JQ Engineering, Maines has held management duties on many complex projects in both design and construction administration phases.  Throughout his career, Maines has also been passionate about the positive impact our profession has on society, working with students at his hometown high school.

Accomplishments/Projects: Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport/Terminal D Expansion, Construction Administration Manager. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting Facility, Project Manager and Structural Engineer of Record. Public Safety Building/Weatherford TX, Project Manager and Structural Engineer of Record

Education: BS in Civil Engineering, Texas A&M University, ME in Civil Engineering, Texas A&M University

Professional/Public Service: American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), Committee on Manuals, Voting Member, Structural Engineers Association of Texas (SEAoT), Member, JQ Community Outreach, Co-Founder of the Waxahachie Dulin Memorial Scholarship 

James Bristow, PE

Managing Partner

Universal Engineering Sciences

Las Vegas, NV

James Bristow is a professional engineer actively involved in improving his community socially, economically, and environmentally.  An experienced leader who manages significant projects and teams, Bristow currently serves as a Managing Partner at Universal Engineering Services (UES).  As a part of the fastest growing architecture, engineering and construction firm in North America, James Bristow has proven himself to be a critical leader.  Additionally, he has demonstrated a passion for fostering rich opportunities for career path development among young engineering professionals by participating in multiple industry and professional boards.

Accomplishments/Projects: Las Vegas Convention Center, Phase II Expansion, UnCommons Development Project, Las Vegas, Project Neon Highway

Education: BA in Political Science, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, MS in Civil Engineering, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Professional/Public Service: Green Our Planet, Board of Directors, American Concrete Institute (ACI), Examiner, Nevada Contractors Association, Voting Member, NAIOP, Government Affairs Committee

John Winters, PLA

Group Leader/Project Manager

Thomas & Hutton

Mt. Pleasant, SC

John Winters joined Thomas & Hutton in 2015 and has 16 years of experience in recreational, golf course, resort, traditional neighborhood, mixed-used, commercial, retail and industrial planning and design.  Winters has a penchant for not only understanding the tasks at hand, but also seeing them through to completion.  He is notably adept at guiding his team through the client’s needs and challenges to create a mutual understanding of the project’s objective for the end-user.  At the heart of Winters’ work at Thomas & Hutton is a desire to create timeless spaces for people by balancing community, culture, and nature.

Accomplishments/Projects: Daniel Island Waterfront Park, Landscape Architecture Project Manager, Shem Creek Phase 3 Improvements, Landscape Architecture Project Manager Battery Park Pedestrian Bridge, Landscape Architecture Project Manager

Education: BS in Landscape Architecture, Mississippi State University, European Institute of Golf Course Architecture

Professional/Public Service: Leadership Charleston, Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, Member

Scott McNally, PE

Site Development Department Manager


Marietta, GA

Scott McNally has repeatedly shown a capacity for leadership and responsibility, and was named head of Croy’s Site Development department in 2021.  In his first year in this role, McNally set records for both utilization and departmental profit.  In this role, McNally leads a team of seven individuals who are both younger and older than him.  McNally also demonstrates his leadership qualities through mentorship by diligently tracking key metrics, strategic planning and workload sharing, commitment to quality, and a positive team attitude. 

Accomplishments/Projects: Greystone Power Headquarters Campus, Lead Design–layout, grading, and detention pond design, Kennesaw Depot Part, Project Engineer, Powder Springs Downtown Greenspace, Project Engineer

Education: BS in Civil Engineering, Georgia Southern University

Professional/Public Service: ACEC Georgia, Future Leaders Program, Cobb Chamber of Commerce, Next Generation Mentoring Program, Leadership Paulding, Participant

Andria Schmid, PE

Director of Civil Engineering


Greenwood Village, CO

Andria (Andi) Schmid was promoted to Director of Civil Engineering for Ulteig Engineers, Inc. in late 2020, overseeing eight engineering teams that comprised 110 employees.  Since taking this position, Schmid has grown into one of the strongest leaders in the rapidly growing firm, consistently demonstrating her ability to build organizational cohesion, competence, and resilience.  In this time, she has increased net service revenue 32 percent year over year, successfully hiring more than 20 new employees.  Schmid also established and leads a women’s Employee Support Group (ESG) to provide support to this critical, under-represented group of employees.

Accomplishments/Projects: CDOT Region 1 Fall River Road Project, Project Manager, I-70 EB Peak Period Shoulder Lane Project, CDOT Project Manager

Education: BS in Civil Engineering, Colorado School of Mines

Professional/Public Service: American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Colorado, Member, Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) Colorado, Member

Victoria Spina

Senior Project Manage

The VERTEX Companies, Inc.

Freehold, NJ

Victoria “Tori” Spina has quickly risen through the career development stages at VERTEX, demonstrating the professional drive and work ethic that is consistent with the company’s highest level of project management practices.  She currently managers multiple staff members in New Jersey and Maryland in a way that embodies VERTEX’s core value of caring for your team.  Tori Spina consistently demonstrates a sense of urgency, is always willing to take on new challenges, and develops high quality deliverables.

Education: BS in Earth and Environmental Science, Lehigh University, MS in Management and Organization, University of Colorado (Sp. 2024)

Professional/Public Service: Society of Environmental Insurance Professionals, Young Professionals, Development

Adam Jaffe, MIMMM

Senior Engineer


New York, NY

Adam Jaffe has worked on over 100 projects in his six year career with Arup.  These projects have covered topics as diverse as the durability of precast tunnel segments, automated crash test simulation post-processing, embodied carbon and circular economy, the design of a refrigerator with no power source, and more. Because Jaffe has unique skills and sits in a small team, he has often worked as the project manager or technical lead on these projects.  Jaffe is also the manager of Arup’s Material Skills Network in the Americas.  In this role he supports learning, skill development, and knowledge-sharing in the materials discipline as well as working cross-regionally to adopt best practices and allocate funding for priority research topics.

Accomplishments/Projects: Million Cool Roofs Challenge, Project Manager and Technical Lead, Engineers Without Borders, Chill Challenge, Project Manager and Technical Lead

Education: BS in Materials Science and Engineering, Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science

Professional/Public Service: Institute of Materials, Minerals, and Mining, Member

Rising Stars in Structural Engineering

Erin Kueht, PE, LEED AP BD+C

Principal, Project Manager

Walter P Moore

Houston, TX

Erin Kueht joined the AEC industry in 2007 and has spent her entire career with Walter P Moore.  Kueht manages a variety of complex structural projects, leveraging her expertise in structural engineering analysis, design, and management in a variety of market sectors.  Kueht was named a Principal of Walter P Moore in 2017 and serves as the co-leader for the firm’s Project Management Committee.  She has demonstrated an outstanding ability to profitably manage her projects through a focus on alignment of scope and fee, along with strong risk management skills with a particular emphasis on managing risk through responsiveness and attention to quality. 

Accomplishments/Projects: Churchill Downs, Project Manager, Houston Botanic Garden, Project Manager, Stephen F. Austin Basketball Practice Facility, Project Manager

Education: BS in Civil Engineering, Texas A&M University, MS in Civil Engineering, Texas A&M University

Professional/Public Service: Architecture Construction and Engineering(ACE) Mentoring Program, Founding Member, Executive Board, Passion Behind Design

Angie Sommer, PE, SE

Associate Principal

ZFA Structural Engineers

San Francisco, CA

Angie Sommer started her career as a drafter for a structural engineering firm during her final year of college before graduating and working as an engineer on large, custom residential homes. Sommer joined ZFA Structural Engineers in 2011, advancing to the role of Senior Engineer six months later.  By 2019, Sommer rose to Associate Principal and had joined the ZFA ownership group as a shareholder.  Sommer has worked both internally and externally to further the causes of gender equity, diversity, and engagement in the structural engineering profession.

Accomplishments/Projects: SE3 Committee, Primary Author for 2016 SE3 Survey Report and 2016 SE3 Pay Report, 12+ Presentations Nationwide to Professional Organizations and Conferences

Education: BS in Architectural Engineering, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Professional/Public Service: Structural Engineers Association of Northern California (SEAONC), SE3 Committee, DEI Endowment Committee; National Council of Structural Engineers Associations (NCSEA), SE3 Committee, Racial Equity Task Group; Commercial Real Estate Women San Francisco (CREW SF), Communications Committee, Finance Committee, Chief Financial Officer

Yuriy Mikhaylov, SE

Senior Structural Engineer


Tamuning, Guam

Yuriy Mikhaylov joined BASE as a structural designer in 2010.  Before this, Mikhaylov was a research assistant at the University of Hawaii studying the performance of multi-story reinforced concrete buildings in various seismic zones and under tsunami loads.  His first major project was the Guam Regional Medical City (GRMC), which is a state-of-the-art hospital designed for extreme seismic and typhoon loadings to meet essential facility post-disaster requirements.

Accomplishments/Projects: Guam Regional Medical City, Lead Structural Designer, Tsubaki Tower, Lead Structural Designer, Aircraft Maintenance Hangars P-109 and P-601, Lead Structural Engineer, Special Inspector, Special Inspector of Record, Holds ICC Master of Special Inspection certification

Education: BS in Civil Engineering, University of Hawaii at Manoa, MS in Civil Engineering, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Professional/Public Service: Guam Symphony Society, First Violin

Rising Stars in Civil Engineering

Julia Simo, PE

Project Manager

Wallace Montgomery, LLP

 Richmond, VA

Julia Simo has ten years of experience in structural engineering, project management, and program management. Prior to joining Wallace Montgomery, Julia worked for the Virginia Department of Transportation as a Structural Engi­neer in the Structure and Bridge Division and a Senior Construction Engineer in the Construction Division. Since joining Wallace Montgomery in June 2020, Julia has stepped into a leadership role on many transportation design projects. To deliver the designs for her current projects as efficiently as possible, Julia has managed the development of 3D models, which has improved efficiency, avoided delays during construction, and saved tens of thousands of dollars.

Accomplishments/Projects: Route 50/Route 606 Intersection Improvements, Project Manager, Albemarle Intersection Improvements Bundling Design-Build, Deputy Design Manager, Chatham Bridge, VDOT Lead Designer

Education: BS in Civil Engineering, Old Dominion University; MS in Structural Engineering, George Washington University; MBA (Data Analytics), University of Richmond

Professional/Public Service: Institute of Transportation Engineers, Washington DC Chapter, Presenter; American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Reston Branch, Presenter; American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), Virginia Beach, Emerging Leaders Program; Women’s Transportation Seminar, Central Virginia Chapter, Treasurer

Matt Moffitt, PE, CFM, CPESC

Associate Vice President

Baxter & Woodman, Inc.

Chicago, IL

During his time at Baxter & Woodman, Matt Moffitt has furthered the firm both internally and externally during his time at Baxter & Woodman.  He was promoted to Water Resources Department Manager  in 2013, growing the department from a staff of five to 45 through four new departments.  Moffitt also fosters growth through mentorship; he has developed both department and project managers. He has secured five new clients, three of which have annual billings in excess of $1 million.  Moffitt is also a co-founder of BWNR, a Natural Resources Maintenance and Construction subsidiary company.

Accomplishments/Projects: Village of Wilmette Neighborhood Storage Project,

Co-Program Manager, Village of Glenview Stormwater Management Program, Stormwater Engineer and Program Manager, City of Lake Forest Stormwater En-gineer, Project Manager

Education: BA in Physics, Western Illinois University, BS in Civil and Environmen-tal, Engineering, UUIC, Graduate Certificate in Water Resources Engineering, UUIC

Professional/Public Service: American Public Works Association, Suburban Branch, Chicago Metro Chapter, Vice President, American Society of Civil Engineer, Environmental and Water Resource Institute, Past-Chair

Rachel Barese, PE


Civil Tec Engineering & Surveying

Suffern, NY

Rachel Barese is a talented and competent civil engineer in the land development field.  What makes Rachel unique is a combination of excellent engineering and business management skills.  As President and a founding member of Civil Tec, Rachel has exhibited her leadership skills in guiding the growth of a thriving engineering business.  Despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, Rachel has persisted in leading her company, continuing the business uninterrupted, and continuing its growth without detriment to the quality of work.

Education: BSCE in Civil Engineering, Bucknell University

Professional/Public Service: New York State Society of Professional Engineers, Rockland County Chapter, Young Engineer of the Year (2014-15), Vice President, Lower Hudson Valley Engineering Expo, Planning Committee, American Society of Civil Engineers, Member

Rising Stars in Full Service Engineering

Blake Olson, AIA, NCARB, NOMA

Architectural Project Manager, Senior Associate

Galloway & Company, Inc.

Greenwood Village, CO

Blake Olson demonstrates a quiet yet decisive leadership style that has earned him the respect and appreciation of all who know him.  His ability to effectively navigate challenging circumstances, evaluate multiple perspectives, and develop strategies for success has defined Olson as a leader for his team and company.  Olson not only excels in management, leadership, and mentorship, but also in his commitment to being an instrument of change. Under his leadership, Olson has greatly elevated Galloway’s strategic planning efforts around Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion by setting clear objectives, building a team to support these objectives, and shepherding actionable items until accomplished.

Accomplishments/Projects: Vasa Fitness National Rollout Program, Future Legends Sport Complex, Ko-Kwel Rehabilitation Center

Education: BS in Environmental Design, University of Colorado Boulder, MS in Architecture, University of Colorado Denver

Professional/Public Service: National Organization for Minority Architects (NOMA), Member, American Institute of Architects (AIA) Colorado Chapter, Member, AIA Colorado Justice Equity Diversity & Inclusion (JEDI) committee, Member

Sara Ann Logan, NCARB, AIA, NOMA, IIDA

Vice President of Design and Engineering

Volumetric Building Companies

 Philadelphia, PA

Sara Ann Logan has propelled a team from a few employees primarily working on single-family houses into a first in class integrated full service architecture, interiors, and production engineering multidisciplinary company with over forty talented designers, engineers, modelers, and project managers. As the VP of Design and Engineering, Logan has led her office to become the premier innovative design firm for modular construction while managing to keep focused on the company’s original values.  One of her most valuable skills is her ability to craft buildings from a form and function perspective while simultaneously understanding the implications from a manufacturing and construction perspective.

Accomplishments/Projects: 2021 Women Who Inspire, ArchNative, 2018 & 2019 Best Architecture Firm, Cambridge Scout Magazine

Education: BA in Architecture Arts, Rice University, B.Arch in Architecture, Rice University

Professional/Public Service: National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), Member, American Institute of Architects (AIA) Licensed in 13 states, Member, IIDA, Member

Ryan J. O’Hearn, PE

Structural Department Manager

R.E. Warner & Associates, Inc.

Westlake, OH

Ryan J. O’Hearn is the Structural Department Manager and a shareholder at R.E. Warner & Associates, Inc (REW).  O’Hearn is responsible for managing and supervising all structural engineering work and personnel.  He directly supervises a team of 15 professionals that provide full-service structural engineering services for a diverse array of projects across the industrial and government sectors.  In recognition of his many contributions to REW, O’Hearn was nominated and elected to become a shareholder of the firm in 2016.  O’Hearn has also been recognized as one of R.E. Warner’s next generation leaders, and is currently enrolled in the 2022 Management Training initiative.

Accomplishments/Projects: Cargill Boat Loader Upgrade, Structural Engineer, Honda Auto Plant Weld Line Zone Innovation, Structural Engineer, Avery Dennison Performance Tapes New Coating Line and Plant Upgrades, Structural Engineer, New Aurora Road Pump Station, Cleveland Division of Water, Structural Engineer

Education: BS in Civil Engineering, Cleveland State University, MS in Structural Engineering, Cleveland State University

Professional/Public Service: American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Cleveland Section, Chair of Communications/Website Committee, Past President

Rising Stars in Architecture

Misela Gonzales-Vandewalle, AIA

Senior Associate

O’Connell Robertson

San Antonio, TX

Misela Gonzales-Vandewalle is an Architect, Senior Associate, and rising leader at O’Connell Robertson where she leads talented teams of problem solvers to design buildings that enrich the lives of the people they serve.  Gonzales-Vandewalle has supported the complex project development of numerous school and university buildings, creating environments that encourage innovation, foster security, and empower individuals. She approaches this work with empathy, caring personally about others, and promoting team strengths to cultivate a collaborative workplace and inspire design solutions that positively impact communities. 

Accomplishments/Projects: Santikos Micronauts Center, Project Architect, San Antonio College Fletcher Administration Center, Project Architect, Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, Architectural Designer

Education: BS in Architecture, Texas Tech University, MS in Architecture, University of Texas at San Antonio

Professional/Public Service: Association for Learning Environments, South Texas Chapter, Board Member, North East Educational Foundation, Board Member, ElevateHer, 2022 Cohort Member, SAHCC Latina Leadership Institute Alumna

*This article was originally published in May 2022