This fifth annual Rising Stars in Civil Engineering and Rising Stars in Structural Engineering recognizes 25 professionals, 40 years old or younger working in the United States, who have shown exceptional technical capability, leadership ability, effective teaching or research, or public service benefiting the civil engineering profession, their employers, project owners, and society. Civil+Structural Engineer staff selected the engineers highlighted on the following pages (in alphabetical order) from an impressive group of nominees from both the private and public sectors. Limited space allows only a brief summary of each Rising Star’s many accomplishments, projects, and activities to date.
Rising Stars in Civil Engineering
Baabak Ashuri, Ph.D., DBIA, CCP, DRMP, (age 36) associate professor and Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems Fellow, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, has been principal investigator for 19 research grants worth about $2.1 million. Among accolades are the 2015 Design-Build Institute of America’s Distinguished Leadership Award in the Faculty category and a 2013 High Value Research Award by the Value of Research Task Force, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. In addition to prolific research, Ashuri is principal advisor for 11 Ph.D. students, 14 master’s students, 14 undergraduate researchers, and four post-doctoral researchers, and co-advisor of four Ph.D. students. Among his many professional contributions include as vice-chair of the ASCE Construction Research Congress; vice-chair, Committee on Sustainability and Environment, ASCE Transportation & Development Institute; and member of the Renew Atlanta Infrastructure Bond Technical Advisory Committee. He is also an advisor for three high school science teachers and 24 high school students and four-week research boot camps in summers 2010-2015, in collaboration with the Georgia Tech Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing.
Ann Bechtel, P.E., CFM, (age 39) technical manager, Atkins, San Diego, has overseen preparation of dozens of master drainage plans, hydrologic and hydraulic studies, floodplain studies, and levee risk analyses. As a program manager and technical lead for multiple contracts with California Department of Water Resources, she has worked on some of the largest and most complicated flood prevention efforts in the country, including the technical lead for the Central Valley Floodplain Evaluation and Delineation program and project manager for development of a statewide master plan to support floodplain management and mitigation of flood hazard issues. Bechtel produced a handbook of non-structural best management practices (BMPs) that demonstrated effective, practical, and cost-efficient floodproofing improvements and played a crucial role in amending statewide building codes to mitigate flood risk and flood damage. In her spare time, she participates in charity events for the Susan G. Komen non-profit organization and supports middle and high school student interest in engineering and science, visiting classrooms across the country as part of Atkins-organized events to promote an interest in the engineering industry.
Robert Glazewski, P.E., (age 36) principal engineer, Arcadis U.S., White Plains, N.Y., grew up in and around general contracting, where he gained firsthand experience both overseeing and executing civil/earthworks projects. With a Masters of Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering degree from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art and more than 12 years with Arcadis, he has developed a wide range of experience in civil engineering, geotechnical engineering, environmental remediation, solid waste engineering, construction cost estimating, project management, and construction management. Glazewski oversees a 150-person staff of engineers, scientists, and technicians deployed across five states in the Northeastern U.S. focused on Arcadis’ Environment Business Line. He maintains management responsibility for staff development, project delivery, business development, and financial management while also maintaining engineering project responsibilities. As design manager and civil/geotechnical engineer for the Welsbach/General Gas Mantle U.S. EPA Superfund site, he managed remedial design on more than 40 construction units, ranging in size and complexity from simple residential homes to large industrial sites.
Heather Guillen, P.E., LEED AP BD+C, ENV SP, (age 38) civil team director, Walter P Moore, Houston, has worked on a variety of infrastructure projects since joining the firm in 2001, and is also an active member of numerous City of Houston leadership committees. She is a third-generation engineer — both her father and brother are engineers. As a team director, she possesses the multi-tasking skill set necessary to foster the young talent of her group to manage and execute large-scale projects. Guillen believes that women, in particular, are wired with these skills, something that has served to her advantage in a male dominated industry. She is also a full-time mother to two sons, ages 6 and 5. She is a member of the City of Sugar Land Parks, Arts, Recreation, Culture, and Streetscapes Board; starting a term as treasurer of the ASCE Houston Branch Board; involved with the committee responsible for developing the strategic plan for the ASCE Texas Section; and served as communications director for the Texas Civil Engineering Conference, CECON 2015.
Rami C. Harb, Ph.D., P.E., PTOE, PMP, (age 34) program director, Atkins, Denver, began his career with a clear and consistent focus on education. While pursuing his master’s degree, he joined the Center of Advanced Transportation Systems Simulation (CATSS) as a research associate fellow. Upon graduating, CATSS promoted Rami to program director and appointed him adjunct professor for several graduate and undergraduate level engineering courses. With more than 40 peer-reviewed articles published, he constantly strives to be an active contributor to the civil engineering body of knowledge. As the program director at Atkins, Harb is managing a five-year advisory services contract for the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), assisting with planning, design, and delivery of major managed-lanes projects. Currently, he works primarily with CDOT overseeing, reviewing, and coordinating transportation projects with a total design and construction cost estimated at more than $3 billion. He is also practice leader for the central and western U.S. managed lanes sector. Harb serves on several national transportation engineering committees.
Benjamin Hunter, P.E., LEED AP, (age 34) project manager, Langan Engineering and Environmental Services, Inc., Pittsburgh, relocated to Pittsburgh in 2012 to assist with the start-up of Langan’s land development services in western Pennsylvania and has been a driving force behind the growth of Langan’s Pittsburgh office. The Pittsburgh site/civil team has expanded to include 23 engineers, engineers in training, and interns. Hunter works as a project manager overseeing and training the project team, which has helped reinvent and redevelop some of the greater Pittsburgh area’s most important sites. He is currently a co-chairman and member of the Executive Committee of the Urban Land Institute in Pittsburgh and formerly served on the 2013, 2014, and 2015 Program Committee. Hunter is on the board of the developing leaders in NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association. Internally, he has served as the Langan Next Gen co-chair and as a Next Gen Mentor. He has also participated in the Langan Mentorship program as a mentor to younger staff members.
Mark J. Janiszewski, P.E., CME, (age 38) project manager/senior associate, Maser Consulting P.A., Hamilton, N.J., provides site design, grading, and stormwater management and has testified as an expert witness at planning boards throughout New Jersey for the projects he has designed. In 2011, Janiszewski was named the Young Engineer of the Year by the Professional Engineers Society of Mercer County (PESMC), and in 2012, he received the Outstanding Young Professional award from the New Jersey Society of Professional Engineers (NJSPE). He recently received the PESMC 2015 Project of the Year award for the Festival Grounds at Mercer County Park. As the assistant chair of Maser Consulting’s QA/QC committee, Janiszewski is committed to ensuring a high standard of work. He has promoted young engineers officially through Maser Consulting’s Mentorship Community Program and fosters motivation with his current team of young engineers by encouraging continued education, supporting participation in professional societies, and leading by example. As president-elect of the NJSPE, he works with the executive board to monitor and propose legislation for the state that benefits professional engineers and the communities they serve.
Matthew Johnson, P.E., S.E., (age 35) branch manager, Fehr Graham, Champaign, Ill., is responsible for client relations, scheduling, cost control, QA/QC, and business development. As the branch manager, he is also a leader, coaching and molding young talent, as well as working alongside more established technical experts. Johnson was instrumental in moving the Champaign office to a new site, creating a more receptive location for recruiting new hires, while also improving the appearance to incoming clients. Johnson has been involved in numerous high-profile transportation and water projects throughout the Midwest, including both municipal and private development, and with both a civil and a structural background has excelled at design for both bridges and wastewater treatment plants. Johnson, a father of five children, is involved with the local Champaign West Rotary Club, taking part in fundraising for local charities. He is also active with alumni events at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, including assisting graduating seniors with job hunting skills.
Dulce Miguel, P.E., LEED AP, (age 39) project engineer, Langan Engineering and Environmental Services, Inc., Lawrenceville, N.J., has worked on a wide variety of projects, including U.S. Embassies in Brazil, Morocco, and Kyrgyzstan and higher education projects in New Jersey, including at Rutgers University, The College of New Jersey, Rowan University, and Princeton University. Miguel has designed numerous low-impact stormwater management systems on projects throughout New Jersey. Her design experience includes bioretention systems, constructed wetlands, rain gardens, green roofs, and wet ponds. In addition to standard land development projects, she has worked on complex horizontal directional drill, jack and bore, and pipeline projects. International experience across four continents has included site layout, stormwater management, site grading, and utility design. Working with the ACE Mentorship Program, for five years Miguel has served as a mentor to high school students who are interested in the engineering field. Additionally, she, her husband, and three children are actively involved in the Monroe community.
Ian Millikan, P.E., PMP, (age 33) design-build program manager, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), Richmond, Va., has served as a transportation project manager on more than $250 million of the area’s largest and most complex highway projects. During a tenure with the Chesterfield County Transportation Department, Millikan established practices for budget management and statistical reporting that allow the county to accurately estimate the cost of transportation-related design activities and construction bid items. These standards were put to the test on the Route 60 Widening Design-Build project. This was Chesterfield County’s first design-build procurement for a transportation project and one of the first federally funded, locally administered design-build projects in Virginia. Millikan worked closely with the county officials and public interest groups. Among a number of award-winning projects, he managed the selection process for the first Diverging Diamond Interchange in Virginia and served as project manager for the Richmond Airport Connector, which was the first project in the country to use TIFIA funds for construction purposes.
Brian Rowley, P.E., CFM, (age 35) senior engineer, water resources, Atkins, Henderson, Nev., is responsible for managing a wide variety of water engineering projects. He was a lead technical reviewer on the $110 million Central Valley Floodplain Evaluation and Delineation Program in California. He was also responsible for the hydrologic and hydraulic analysis and design of drainage infrastructure on a $7 billion airport expansion design-build project in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Recently, Rowley was chosen to serve as a senior engineer on the $570 million Project Neon, the largest freeway project in Nevada state history. Rowley also is a distinguished educator, working as a GIS instructor at Nevada State College in Henderson. While at Brigham Young University, his master’s project included computer programming and development of the current Windows version of the HY-8 computer program, which is used across the industry to analyze and design culverts. He is a participant in the “I Can Be” event at local Nevada high schools, where he presents to hundreds of students about careers in engineering.
Will Schnier, P.E., (age 35) CEO, BIG RED DOG Engineering and Consulting, Austin, Texas, co-founded the firm in 2009, which has grown to more than 100 team members with offices in Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. BIG RED DOG has garnered awards for being one of the 50 fastest growing companies in Texas, an ENR top 100 Design Firm in Texas and Louisiana, and was named to the 2015 Zweig Group Hot Firm list. Schnier is well versed in the project review and development permitting process, having worked closely and successfully with city and county review staff, neighborhood associations, environmental groups, and public boards and councils. He has been responsible for project management, engineering design, and regulatory permitting of hundreds of single family subdivision projects, mixed-use and multifamily residential developments, industrial facilities, and oil and gas development projects throughout Texas. Schnier was appointed to the board of directors of the Real Estate Council of Austin in 2014 and served as the mayor’s appointment to the City of Austin Zoning Board of Adjustment from 2011 to 2015.
Vatsal Shah, P.E., (age 29) senior project engineer, Mott MacDonald, Iselin, N.J., spearheaded at age 22 creation of a geotechnical group. During the last six years, the group has completed more than $5 million worth of work for more than 200 projects. Shah became one of New Jersey’s youngest Professional Engineers at the age of 23. As a board member on the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) Young Alumni Club, he chairs the education committee. In July 2014, Shah was among six NJIT alumni who received achievement awards for their professional accomplishments, community engagement, and service to their alma mater. He was the first person under the age of 40 to receive that honor. He began teaching as an adjunct professor at NJIT in 2015 and speaks at high schools and colleges on his experience as a civil engineer and why choosing a career in engineering can be fun, exciting, and fulfilling. After the Haiti earthquake, Shah led a team to design an emergency waste treatment facility to support a camp of 9,000 people.
Kevin Siegel, P.E., (age 37) division manager, Atkins, Newport News, Va., oversees multidisciplinary design teams on a variety of projects, including roadway design, traffic analysis, site development, environmental investigations and permitting, bridge inspection and design, facility condition assessments, and retro-commissioning programs. He has been instrumental in advancing the firm’s work in revitalizing historic communities. He was the design manager for two phases of the Virginia Capital Trail, a bicycle and pedestrian trail that connects the historic communities of Williamsburg and Richmond, Va., which won the 2014 WTS Central Virginia Chapter Innovative Transportation Award. He was also the project manager for the first phase of a streetscape revitalization program for the Southeast Community of the City of Newport News. Since 2008, he has served as Atkins’ program manager of the U.S. Air Force Headquarters Air Combat Command IDIQ Infrastructure contract. Siegel serves as president of the ASCE’s Virginia Peninsula Branch, and is Education Committee co-chair of the Society of American Military Engineers Virginia Peninsula Post.
Sanaan Lair Villalobos, P.E., (age 40) principal engineer, Arcadis U.S., Inc., El Paso, Texas, has expanded the firm’s service offerings and footprint in the El Paso market and is working with the El Paso Water Utilities (EPWU) to provide safe drinking water through direct potable reuse (DPR). Her project team completed an initial feasibility analysis and also planned, developed, and conducted pilot testing for future implementation of a facility for recycling treated secondary clarifier effluent via DPR. This facility will be one of two of its kind in the world but the only one that utilizes a desalination process. Villalobos has completed most of the coursework toward a doctoral degree in civil engineering at the University of Texas at El Paso, and has taught graduate courses at the institution. Additionally, she has published research papers on topics ranging from novel techniques in GIS and hydraulic modeling to materials degradation at nuclear waste facilities. In addition to her project manager and principal-in-charge roles, she serves as an office leader and mentor to younger staff in El Paso and around Texas.
Rising Stars in Structural Engineering
Clayton Binkley, P.E., S.E., (age 38) senior engineer, Arup, Seattle, is an artist, fabricator, welder, and structural engineer with an ability to synthesize solutions using diverse disciplines. He has developed specific areas of expertise — design and construction with exotic materials such as stainless steels, bronze, and high-strength synthetic fibers; and software development for linear and non-linear structural and geometric analysis and optimization. Recent work has included automated structural design processes for complex roof structures and digital workflows that link the design process from analysis through to fabrication. Binkley sits on the research review board of Arup’s global Digital Environments skills network and leads Arup’s Design Computation skills network in the Americas as well as Arup’s Structural skills network design computation task group. He began a design partnership with artist Janet Echleman in 2010 that resulted in sculptures installed at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Campus and the Smithsonian Museum. He volunteers at the University of Washington, Department of Architecture as a guest lecturer, critic, and thesis reviewer.
John George, P.E., S.E., M.L.S.E., (age 39) senior structural engineer/operations manager, AECOM, Columbus, Ohio, has worked with signature architects, designed massive medical centers, mission critical facilities, and even the framework for a multistory sculpture within the lobby of the Battelle Memorial Institute. His projects have earned multiple state and national-level ACEC awards and an AIA design award. At the request of his former master’s advisor, George taught a section of the undergraduate structural steel course at Ohio State in 2011 and has been a regular lecturer at the university ever since, eventually transitioning to teaching the senior capstone course in structural engineering. He mentors former students as well as young engineers at AECOM. He recently teamed with a former student, now an AECOM structural engineer, to develop a streamlined approached to alternate path progressive collapse analysis for a $700 million VA Hospital project that has allowed the AECOM team to assess failure scenarios in a fraction of the time normally associated with the task.
Ivan Liu, P.E., (age 27) bridge engineer, Finley Engineering Group, Tallahassee, Fla., has performed design and construction engineering services for many types of complex bridges, including precast segmental, cast-in-place segmental, and cable-stayed bridges. With his background in engineering software, he has become a major part of all bridge modeling and analysis at Finley and is able to provide answers to various computer and audiovisual issues within Finley. He is a major contributor to development of junior-level staff and interns, guiding them through their work and pushing them to reach their potential. While a student, he helped take the Texas A&M Steel Bridge Team to a national competition for three straight years. He also performed structural analysis of traffic barriers and crash testing to correlate theoretical behaviors with actual results as a student intern for the Texas Transportation Institute. In his personal time, Liu is involved with the Association of Former Students at Texas A&M University to mentor and encourage current civil engineering students with career advice and real-world, obtainable goals.
Travis McCoy, P.E., LEED AP, (age 32) managing director, Schaefer, Phoenix, began his career at Schaefer as a cooperative education student. The firm recognized a future leader in McCoy — someone smart, creative, approachable, and collaborative — and hired him after graduation. He continued to push himself, earning both a Master of Science and Master of Business Administration. While preparing for the PE test, he pursued a LEED AP designation. Management harnessed his charismatic personality and professional improvement spirit by selecting him to develop two internal teams based on increasing efficiency and improving project management skills: Production Improvement Team and Project Management Team. He has authored 25 aids in MathCAD/Excel and collaborates with other team members on Revit standard details for wood framing development. In 2015, when McCoy and his family relocated to Phoenix, the firm stood behind him in opening a third office there, expanding its geographic reach. His entrepreneurial spirit and determined attitude will be key to the successful launch of the new office.
Janice Mochizuki, P.E., LEED AP, (age 33) senior engineer, Arup, San Francisco, completed a structural-focused dual-degree program with a Master of Civil and Environmental Engineering and a Master of Architecture. She has a depth of professional experience that is highlighted by her ability to convey concepts of structural gravity and seismic design in a way that is clear to architects and engineers in other disciplines. Her skills encompass seismic and wind analysis, building settlement analysis and soil interaction, construction administration, and successful coordination with other disciplines. One of her most notable project accomplishments was her comprehensive involvement with the new Newport Beach Civic Center and Park in Newport Beach, Calif. She was a key member of the structural analysis, design, and graphic production team, and managed construction administration and post-completion publicity for the project. Mochizuki is the Arup volunteer coordinator for the Leap Sandcastle Competition and volunteers at Burton High School Academy of Engineering. She also provides structural concept review with architectural studio students at her alma maters, University of California, Berkeley and University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
Alfonso Oliva, (age 32) associate, head of LERA+, Leslie E. Robertson Associates (LERA), New York, founded and is currently leading the firm’s Laboratory for Engineering Research and Automation (LERA+), composed of five engineers and design professionals seeking to advance the design process within the firm as well as the state of the AEC industry as a whole by implementing use of the latest technologies. Oliva collaborates with design teams on a variety of projects and leads learning seminars for other firms. As a structural engineer, his project experience includes sculptural art installations, sports arenas, and supertall towers. On the Hudson Yards project, he was the BIM lead and directed automation of ad-hoc engineering design tasks to speed up workflow. Among accomplishments, Oliva developed an ad-hoc software application for optimizing tall buildings under lateral loads, is exploring the virtual and augmented reality world to find ways to apply the technology to the AEC practice, and is currently an adjunct CLT at New York City College of Technology.
Shawn Ozuna, P.E., (age 39) senior project engineer, Thornton Tomasetti, Albuquerque, N.M., is currently engaged in nonlinear finite element analysis of structures subject to blast and impact loads and structural design and detailing for buildings at Los Alamos National Laboratories. Her projects have included analysis of one- and two-leaf reinforced concrete doors to assess their fragility when subjected to airblast loading. These results, as well as analyses of other door types, were used to improve the accuracy of the Integrated Munitions Effectiveness Assessment (IMEA) blast door response module, an important tool used in warfighting. Ozuna was an analyst for several components of the new Yankee Stadium to determine structural response to blast loading and for the exposed section of existing slurry wall inside the 9/11 Memorial Museum. The existing wall and its wall anchors were strengthened with a new liner wall and counterfort system and evaluated against a ground shock threat. Ozuna is director and past president of the Structural Engineers Association of New Mexico.
Amirpasha Peyvandi, Ph.D., P.E., (age 34) project manager, Stantec, Baton Rouge, La., is a multi-talented researcher/engineer with advanced expertise in concrete and cement materials coupled with a background in industry and academia. He has participated in federally funded studies, including research into recycled glass concrete, efficient and durable wastewater infrastructure systems, and green high-performance concrete nanocomposites. His work has led to introduction of glass-enhanced concrete pavement with superior durability, impermeability, and cost-effectiveness; novel microbial corrosion-resistant synthetic fiber-reinforced concrete; and demonstration of modified graphite nanoplatelet-enhanced concrete. Peyvandi has published more than 20 peer reviewed papers and has been an adjunct professor in the Civil Engineering Department at Louisiana State University. His experiences in the field of bridge engineering include development of project design criteria and design of new bridges with a wide range of structural systems. His responsibilities include managing and guiding junior-level engineers and technical staff during the design and production of final plan documents and providing QC/QA review.
Jessica Simon, P.E., LEED AP, (age 31) associate/project manager, JQ Engineering, LLP, Dallas, has participated in the structural design of some of the more complex projects undertaken by the firm, including evaluation and strengthening of historic structures to gain compliance with current building codes, design of vibration-sensitive structures critical to research and education, and development of structural designs sympathetic to the aesthetic desires of nationally recognized architects. She is currently leading the structural team designing a 200,000-square-foot Engineering Research Building for the University of Texas at Dallas and a Visitor Center at Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines. Simon was named an associate in the firm in 2015, the youngest associate in firm history. She is a leader of technical review committees tasked with creating and codifying the firm’s design and management standards and helped spearhead JQ’s efforts to increase its engineers’ direct involvement and proficiency with BIM software. Simon leads multiple community outreach programs and is an advocate for women in the profession, establishing a group within JQ to lead the conversation about finding the right work/life balance.
Jason Stone, P.E., (age 36) senior associate/project manager, Leslie E. Robertson Associates, New York, has led design projects on a variety of award-winning academic, cultural, and mixed-use projects, including the John Jay College of Criminal Justice expansion project. The project was awarded an IDEAS2 Presidential Award for Excellence in Structural Engineering from the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) in 2015. This is the top honor bestowed on a single project annually by the AISC. Since 2008, Stone has served as an associate adjunct professor of architecture at Columbia University and is a structural mentor for teams of graduate architecture students on integrated design projects. He is currently project manager for the M3M Golf View Estate — a high-rise residential development in Gurgaon, India that consists of 19 residential buildings ranging in height from six to 42 stories. Stone traveled to Afghanistan with Engineering Ministries International — a non-profit Christian development organization made up of architects, engineers, and design professionals — in 2009 to design a local community center in the Nangarhar Province.