This seventh annual Rising Stars in Civil Engineering and Rising Stars in Structural Engineering recognizes 26 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 and structural engineering professions, their employers, project owners, and society. Zweig Group editors 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.
Will Allen, P.E., PTOE, (age 32) toll technology senior analyst, HNTB Corporation, Austin, Texas, has influenced planning and design of a variety of transportation projects across the country. He served as lead civil and traffic engineer for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation on the Whittier Bridge/I-95 design-build improvement project, responsible for all major highway and traffic design items. Allen also served as a civil and toll design engineer for the Maine Turnpike Authority on a variety of toll conversion projects. Serving as one of the youngest members of HNTB Corporation’s National Toll Technology Consulting Practice, Allen’s experience in traditional and alternative project delivery and background in design, program management, and project management has led to assignments on some of the most complex and specialized roadway projects in Texas and California. Before relocating his career to Austin, Texas, Allen participated in the Emerging Leaders Program through “A Better City (ABC) Boston,” which focuses on discussing ways leaders are contributing to public service, improvement in quality of life, and developing innovative solutions to the region’s transportation needs.
Jessica Fox, P.E., (age 39) vice president of operations – Environmental, The Vertex Companies, Aston, Pa., specializes in analyzing the impacts and potential liabilities of subsurface environmental contamination. She has evaluated projects ranging from single-family homes to major international airports. Fox has helped guide the strategic growth of the firm’s Remediation Group from a staff size of two in 2010 to more than 45 full time employees in 2018. She is currently responsible for business operations, financial oversight, strategic planning, quality control, service consistency, internal training, and technological advancement for a team of 150 employees. She also initiated a Women’s Resource Group at Vertex to address career challenges faced by women within the company, in the AEC field, and in the workplace as a whole. Notable projects include design and implementation of a large-scale subsurface investigation to evaluate potential environmental impacts at a 40-acre pipe manufacturing facility; designing and directing a baseline subsurface investigation for a 32-acre former railroad yard; and managing solid waste and hazardous materials investigations for two Philadelphia International Airport Environmental Impact Statement projects.
Stephen Harris, P.E., ENV SP, (age 32) senior engineer, Atkins, Denver, has designed rural roadways in national parks and other environmentally sensitive locations and also developed designs for highly urban corridors such as Central 70 — Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) largest infrastructure initiative in the state’s history. CDOT recognized Harris in a letter of commendation as “critical to our success.” He was the lead author and is currently performing project oversight for two design-build projects within the Platte to Park Hill Program, a $298 million regional detention drainage improvement program. Harris has led Atkins’ Graduate Develop Program for the Denver office — a program for new college graduates, providing innovative training through multidiscipline rotation over an 18-month duration. In coordination with Atkins and Denver Public Schools, he participated in programs to tutor students in math and science. Since moving to Colorado almost 10 years ago, Harris has volunteered with the Denver Rescue Mission, serving downtown Denver’s homeless and needy population. He also enjoys going to Juarez, Mexico to build homes for the poorest people of Juarez.
Cameron Jenkins, P.E., (age 33) senior engineer, Atkins, is the water resource team lead in San Diego. He is recognized for his leadership, mentorship, and ability to identify and solve complex channel and floodplain management problems. His experience includes hydrology and hydraulics modeling, dam break modeling, sediment transport modeling, stream restoration, and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Letter of Map Revision studies. Currently, Jenkins is the technical lead for several large 2D hydraulic models being developed to simulate approximately 34 square miles of burned areas in Santa Barbara County from the Thomas Fire — the largest wildfire in California’s history. He played a key role in working with FEMA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and local partners to assess and perform dam breach modeling for 37 critical dams in Puerto Rico within the span of a few days following the Category 5 hurricane that struck the island in September 2017. Jenkins has taught training courses for ASCE, Floodplain Management Association, and local agencies on the use of HEC-RAS 1D, HEC-RAS 2D, and RiverFlow2D.
Jeffrey Katz, P.E., (age 29) division manager, The Vertex Companies, Long Island City, N.Y., has managed construction of numerous complicated projects throughout the world, specializing in completion of distressed projects following termination of the original contractor. Projects include construction of an $80 million U.S. Government facility in Germany; construction of a multi-level post-tensioned concrete parking structure at Fort Hood, Texas; construction of two $16 million service plazas in Ohio; and completion and closeout of multiple projects throughout the country, including state police facilities, schools/universities, community and public works buildings, high-rise housing developments, and more. Katz is comfortable consulting on both vertical and horizontal construction, and has prepared claims and expert reports related to project completion costs, unforeseen conditions, design issues, project delays, overpayment, construction defects, and more. In addition to his normal project management responsibilities, for two years Katz guided development of a company program for loss control services for a global insurance provider. Working with two others at Vertex, he is in the process of forming a surety claims professional association for the Northeast region
Christine H. Kirby, P.E., (age 39) project manager and standards engineer, Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, Inc. (LAN), Houston, has focused on management and design of water lines ranging in diameter from 8 inches to 108 inches. As part of the program management team for the City of Houston’s Surface Water Transmission Program (SWTP), which includes more than $400 million in construction of large-diameter water lines, she has been involved in all project phases from preliminary engineering through construction. She serves within LAN as a technical champion and is considered to be a company-wide expert for design of pipelines using horizontal directional drilling. As liaison for the SWTP, Kirby oversees multidiscipline design teams consisting of consultants and experts. Within LAN, she organized a graduate rotation program that allowed new hires to work on projects in various markets over a three-month period. She also established a mentorship program that assigned senior engineers as mentors to young graduate engineers. Kirby serves on three standards committees for the American Water Works Association, as well as for a number of community organizations.
Matthew J. Manges, P.E., CFM, (age 34) team leader and regional stormwater manager, Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, Inc. (LAN), Houston, is an industry expert in advanced GIS methods and complex 2D modeling, and is recognized as one of the top 2D modelers in Texas. In 2010, he developed an award-winning 2D model in support of a 4,000-acre drainage master plan — one of the largest in North America at the time — for the Memorial City Redevelopment Authority in west Houston. The model helped develop cost-effective solutions for a community beset by flooding and drainage issues for a long time. Manges oversees a team of 14 engineers, who provide engineering services for all aspects of stormwater management. He is currently participating in LAN’s Leadership Institute, an intensive, year-long training program in which key leaders from across the company interact and build on each other’s strengths. Manges regularly conducts internal training seminars, has hosted training workshops for clients on advanced 2D modeling, and is a regular presenter at the Texas Floodplain Management Association spring and fall conferences.
Ali Mostafavi, Ph.D., (age 34) assistant professor, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, focuses his research on the sustainability and resilience of civil infrastructure and addresses four important societal challenges: infrastructure adaptation and disaster resilience; urban sustainability; construction efficiency; and energy efficient buildings. Through the use of computational methods based on agent-based simulation, dynamic network analysis, life cycle analysis, and stochastic dynamic modeling, his research investigates new theoretical frameworks and robust solution concepts to inform decision-making and policy formulation in civil infrastructure systems and construction projects. He is the author of more than 35 journal and conference publications, and his research has been presented at more than 25 national and international conferences related to construction. In two recent projects, Mostafavi (as the lead investigator) leads interdisciplinary teams of researchers to examine the resilience performance of Houston’s flood protection, emergency management, and transportation infrastructure systems during Hurricane Harvey. Mostafavi and his team are studying the emergency response to Harvey, analyzing ways to improve planning, communication, and coordination risks that may arise in future extreme weather events.
Justin C. Reeves, P.E., LEED AP, (age 37) team leader and senior associate, Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, Inc. (LAN), Fort Worth, Texas, leads the municipal infrastructure teams for LAN’s Dallas and Fort Worth offices and is responsible for water, wastewater, drainage, and roadway design projects throughout the region. He has supported more than 500,000 linear feet of pipeline design ranging from 6 inches to 108 inches in diameter and has experience with more than 100,000 linear feet of trenchless utility installation or pipeline rehabilitation. Reeves is responsible for staff development, client relations, and market growth in the region, averaging more than 10 percent growth per year during the last three years. He has developed or supported development of various tools and processes now used company-wide, including a project execution manual, sales manual, and earned value management tools. Reeves is currently committee chair for the AWWA Standards Committee for Fiberglass Weirs, Troughs, and Baffles, where he is responsible for updates to two technical industry standards, and is serving as president of the Underground Construction Technology Association’s North Texas Chapter.
Katie Thomas, P.E., ENV SP, QSD/P, (age 28) senior engineer/project manager, CWE, Fullerton, Calif., was honored in 2015 by the Orange County Engineering Council with a Young Engineer Award. While a graduate student working full-time, she was awarded a $10,000 Metropolitan Water District World Water Forum grant to fund researching, designing, building, and testing a subsurface irrigation collection system. The project supported her hypothesis that a system of this kind could reduce potable water use by 15 to 30 percent. She is significantly contributing to development of one Watershed Management Program and six Enhanced Watershed Management Programs (EWMPs) for watershed management groups throughout Los Angeles County. These EWMPs, the first of their kind, are paving the road for stormwater quality protection in Los Angeles County. ASCE selected one of the plans as the Outstanding Regional Water Treatment Project of the Year in 2016. Thomas was the senior engineer for the design of bioswales and green street improvements to capture and retain urban runoff for the City of Beverly Hills, reducing potable water use by approximately 1.25 million gallons per year.
Ryan Trahan, P.E., (age 38) principal, Environmental Partners Group, Inc. (EP), Quincy, Mass., has advanced in six years to a principal within the firm and one of five directors on its board. Named by ENR New England as a 2018 Top Young Professional, Trahan consistently contributes to the cultural and financial well-being of EP, managing more than 40 active projects with a staff of 12 engineers. Managing 25 percent of the firm’s annual revenue, Trahan has been the project manager of EP’s largest project to date through all phases of design and construction — a $130 million public water system design and construction project in Eastham, Mass. The project has won numerous regional and national awards and accolades, including a 2017 Project of the Year award from the American Public Works Association. In 2012, he began and continues to coordinate a co-op partnership with Northeastern University, hiring as many as eight civil, environmental, and transportation engineering students at one time to work for a six month period. Trahan is involved in city government, serving on several committees in Lakeville, Mass.
Jennifer Weger, P.E., (age 35) senior analyst – Toll Systems, HNTB Corporation, Philadelphia, served as deputy program manager on the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s conversion to all-electronic tolling. She helped lead a multi-tiered effort to assist more than 800 state employees who no longer were needed to keep the toll system running in finding other opportunities with the State of Pennsylvania and other employers. In Georgia, Weger served as project manager for on-call support with the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) to support consolidation of back-office operations. SRTA’s work was selected as winner of the 2017 International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association’s annual Toll Excellence Award. Weger served as planning task leader for a Florida Department of Transportation plan to develop and implement an express lanes network across southeast Florida and helped guide decision making across multiple agencies. In 2012, she received a Trailblazer Award from the Atlanta Chapter of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials because of her efforts to get minority engineering professionals more involved in their industry and local communities.
Matt Wessale, (age 30) field services manager, Westwood Professional Services, Minneapolis, has been at the forefront of development of modern pile load tests that are a primary tool in the design of solar pile foundations. In 2013, Wessale oversaw more than 8,000 load tests and managed design, procurement, and installation of more than 170,000 piles across 25 solar projects in Ontario. He developed new load testing tools and techniques that allowed his team to complete load tests in 30 minutes each using two people — an 89 percent reduction in production hours and related costs. Wessale returned to the U.S. and started his own company, Solar Foundation Services; at the end of 2015 his team joined Westwood Professional Services. He now oversees a team of engineers who design and test energy infrastructure foundations across the U.S. Wessale put Westwood on the map for offering construction support services by developing a digital product to support onsite construction tracking and inspections. He serves as the chair of a committee within Westwood’s power division, focused on product diversification and innovation.
Hamed Babaizadeh, P.E., LEED AP BD+C, (age 31) bridge engineer, Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LADOTD), Baton Rouge, La., is bridge representative for a variety of LADOTD projects from bridge design feasibility studies to new bridge design and replacement/rehabilitation of existing bridges. His highlighted experience at LADOTD is developing special details for slab span bridges with widths from 30 feet to 44 feet using finite element models in accordance with AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specifications and the LADOTD Bridge Design and Evaluation Manual. Babaizadeh has published many widely cited peer-reviewed journal papers and conference proceedings in the fields of structural design and sustainability of construction materials by performing a hybrid environmental-economic life cycle assessment. He has been a mentor for high school and undergraduate students getting prepared for civil engineering competitions such as concrete strength and spaghetti bridge competitions and served as jury and executive committee member for the National Lightweight Concrete Competitions.
Michael Baron, P.E., S.E., (age 33) project manager and structural engineer, The Chazen Companies, Troy, N.Y., founded the Expertise Project (EP; www.expertiseproject.org), a New York State Benefit Corporation that improves the way that expertise is transferred between students and professionals. His team interviews professionals, edits the video, and distributes it using a web-based platform in a fun, visual, and memorable way that’s made available to students and the public. EP, initially focusing on structural and civil engineering students and professionals in New York State, is based on Baron’s experiences developing structural engineering expertise and mentoring and onboarding students and entry level engineers. The New York State Workforce Development Institute awarded EP a development grant based on its potential to convey knowledge and information about careers in structural engineering while developing a framework that could be used in other sectors in the future. Baron was the project manager and design engineer on two projects that won Diamond Awards from the ACEC New York Chapter in 2017 — the Kaal Rock Connector, a feasibility study to construct a world-class pedestrian walkway along the Hudson River; and the Revere Smelting and Refinery Wet Electrostatic Precipitator.
Sam Brockshus, (age 26) designer, ISG, Mankato, Minn., in addition to serving as project manager and lead structural designer on ISG projects, is a member of ISG’s Bluebeam Training Committee, which was created to develop Bluebeam software skills companywide, and ISG’s ESOP Committee, a group that was formed to facilitate communication, provide information, and build trust between employee owners and leadership within ISG. Brockshus served as lead structural designer for Mill City Senior Community in Faribault, Minn., a ground-up three-story building constructed using conventional wood framing plus an at-grade precast parking garage on the first floor. He also serves as lead structural designer for an ongoing project at Blue Star Power Systems in North Mankato, Minn., comprising a $15 million manufacturing facility constructed primarily of steel and precast concrete. He currently serves on the structural design team for the City of Eagle Grove Water Reclamation Facility in Eagle Grove, Iowa. Brockshus has been a Big Brother Big Sister mentor since 2013 and was named the Mankato Family YMCA’s mentor of the year for 2018.
Megan Chang, P.E., (age 33) TETER, LLP, Visalia, Calif., was the project manager and structural project engineer for the award-winning Kern County-Bakersfield Hall of Records Renovation project. The Hall of Records, a historic, single-story government building constructed in 1910, suffered severe concrete deterioration, corrosion of reinforcement, and structural defects. Chang worked closely with the materials science and geotechnical engineer to determine the cause of corrosion and deterioration and designed a repair compatible with the historic, carbonated concrete. As project manager and structural project engineer for the Department of Veteran Affairs – New Information Technology and Engineering Building, Chang pioneered the progressive collapse and blast resistive design, a first for the Central California VA Health Care System. She is one of the few engineers in California’s San Joaquin Valley who possess expert knowledge about the new federal requirement, Physical Security Design for VA Facilities. Chang also is the dean of leadership for TETER University, establishing its core curriculum, identifying its vision and priorities, and securing instructors. For the last three years, Chang has taught structural engineering to eighth grade girls at summer STEM camps.
Christina C. Chu-Garcia, P.E., LEED AP, (age 32) senior project engineer, Thornton Tomasetti, New York, is responsible for structural analysis and design, construction administration, and production of structural drawings. Her experience includes a variety of building types, including commercial high-rise, mixed-use, and institutional complexes. Chu-Garcia gained much of her experience from work on the Hudson Yards Platform, which is the first piece of the Hudson Yards development built over existing rail yards. It was a fast-track project that had to be complete ahead of the overbuild structures. Since 2015, Chu-Garcia has been a nominated board member of the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY), serving as director for two years, and recently beginning a second term as secretary. As a member of the SEAoNY board, she recently helped launch two committees — one to introduce the Syracuse chapter of SEAoNY; and the Diversity Committee, advocating for inclusion and advancement of women and minorities in the engineering community. She also serves on the SE Licensure Committee, working to bring the SE title designation to New York.
Joseph Collins, P.E., S.E., (age 37) associate, Arup, Oakland, Calif., specializes in seismic engineering, long-span steel structures, and projects overseas. He has led the design of a diverse portfolio of buildings, including an innovation campus in China, an airport terminal in Saudi Arabia, a motorcycle manufacturing plant in India, multiple hospitals in California and Canada, a corporate restaurant in California, as well as office and retail developments. He has had a key role in implementation and development of BIM within Arup San Francisco, from coordination and integrated project delivery to prefabrication. Collins played an integral part in the establishment and opening of Arup’s new Oakland office. In 2014, he was a faculty member at Arup’s Design School, where he helped plan and organize an internal retreat for the brightest young engineers within Arup with design exercises that challenge the industry’s approach to building design. In that same year, he won Arup’s internal MotOVEator Award. Currently, Collins is working with the Structural Engineering Association of Northern California Seismology Committee, co-authoring the SEAOC Blue Book Seismic Design Recommendation on Stair and Ramp Design.
Drew Dudley, P.E., (age 29) owner, Dudley Engineering, College Station, Texas, has been a key member of the structural team that delivered the renovations to Kyle Field at Texas A&M University, a $500 million fast-track structural project accomplished in two off-seasons without interruption to home football games. He recently completed his fourth year as an adjunct professor at the University of Houston College of Architecture. Dudley is also a structural specialist for Texas Task Force 1, which functions as one of the 28 federal teams under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Urban Search and Rescue System and as a statewide urban search and rescue team under direction of the Texas Division of Emergency Management. Recently, he started a structural engineering and building envelope consulting firm, Dudley Engineering LLC, capitalizing on his background in both commercial construction and disaster engineering to provide unique and cost-effective solutions to new and adaptive reuse projects. He is leading a structural team in evaluating a reinforced concrete and timber-framed building constructed in the 1940s for structural integrity and adapting the building to function as a mixed-use facility.
Ece Erdogmus, Ph.D., P.E., (age 40) professor of architectural engineering, University of Nebraska (The Durham School), Omaha, Neb., achieved full professorship before the age of 40; has received nine teaching, mentoring, and service recognitions from the department and college; has published more than 60 peer-reviewed technical articles; and is principal investigator for nearly $1.5 million in funded grants. Internationally known in assessment and rehabilitation of historical structures, Erdogmus is the only structural engineering faculty solely affiliated with the AE program. She mentors all structural engineering option students, collaborating with the civil engineering program to teach the structures courses for both programs. Her research expertise is related to assessment and rehabilitation of structures. She developed a novel nondestructive evaluation technique during her Ph.D. studies that allowed for experimentally validated finite element models of complex masonry structures such as vaulting systems of cathedrals. She also developed methodologies for lateral strength of masonry arch bridges, exploring soil backfill-structure interactions. Erdogmus is chief editor of the ASCE Journal of Architectural Engineering, managing all paper submissions and leading the editorial board.
Gustav Fagerström, ARB, (age 38) digital practice leader, Walter P Moore, New York, leads computational modeling for structural and façade engineering. He has experience in all stages of projects in more than 10 countries, having practiced with Urban Future Organization, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, UNStudio, and BuroHappold Engineering. His work has been exhibited and published in Europe, the Americas, and Asia and presented at Autodesk University, the Venice Architecture Biennale, CAADRIA, ACADIA, FABRICATE, and the SmartGeometry conference. Fagerström has also served on various design juries and lectured at Yale, the Architectural Association, UCL Bartlett, the Royal Institute of Technology, and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm. As a senior technical designer, he has played a key role in many high-profile projects, including Golden State Warriors Arena, which is clad with a complex rain screen metal perforated skin with large glass atria walls; Daily’s Place at EverBank Field, a multi-purpose facility connecting a 5,500-seat amphitheater and a 94,000-square-foot indoor practice facility; and 25-11 49th Ave, a project in historic Queens that involved adding a 120,000-square-foot, nine-story office tower over an existing building.
Zak Kostura, P.E., (age 38) associate, Arup, New York, has more than 14 years of experience, particularly in high-performance structures. One of his first projects, Fulton Center, is a new transit center in downtown Manhattan that connects 11 subway lines and updates existing structures while providing undisrupted subway service. The project was engineer led with seven contract packages, each with complex interfaces and involving different contractors and architects. He was the lead structural engineer for the sky-reflector net and project manager for the subway line mezzanine. More recently, Kostura is the lead structural engineer designing the roof of the new Mexico City International Airport. An incredibly complex roof, not only will it be the largest space-frame system in the world, the architect’s design is that the roof will be one continuous envelope, without distinction between the roof, vertical walls, and canopy spaces. He is also an adjunct professor of architecture in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University, where he provides a focus on structurally expressive architecture.
Enrica Oliva, LEED AP, (age 35) partner and COO, Werner Sobek New York, New York, joined the firm as director (and founder) of the Structures Group in 2016. She has managed educational, residential, and commercial building projects and leads the business development team. She is currently adjunct assistant professor at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University, as well as at the Architecture School of Pratt Institute. From 2007 to 2012 Oliva worked on the Barclays Center Arena and Towers by architect Frank Gehry, and subsequently by Ellerbe Beckett. The projects presented many structural challenges and unusual geometry. She was the sole manager of the 146 E126th street residential project since its inception in 2014, with world-renowned architect Bjarke Ingels. The project demanded advanced technical skills in concrete and steel design, as well as management skills to cover the demands of a large design team. Adding to its complexity, part of the building was planned as an overbuilt, with the demand of keeping the two structures structurally disconnected.
Brett Reynolds, P.E., (age 36) geographic discipline leader for Bridges and Structures, Maser Consulting P.A., Albany, N.Y., leads a team of five engineers in the conceptual, preliminary, and final design of contract drawings and construction specifications associated with bridges, culverts, retaining walls, dams, roadway drainage, and other various civil engineering projects. He has used his diverse expertise to implement new service lines, which has significantly increased revenue for his team. Shortly after joining Maser Consulting, he became a member of the safety committee to ensure consistent and comprehensive safety standards throughout the company. Following advancement to associate, he became an active member of the Association, a program developed by Maser Consulting to supplement efforts in accomplishing strategic plan action items and aid in review of other timely topics for the company. His participation in the program led to promotion to senior associate and election to vice co-chair of the group. Reynolds has promoted young engineers since the inception of Maser Consulting’s Mentorship Community Program. He also is the chair of the American Council of Engineering Companies New York Eastern Region.
Tabitha Tavolaro, P.E., (age 39) associate principal, Arup, New York, gained design and management experience with work on institutional projects including the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, renovation of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York, and work on the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Mo. She has helped redefine the Mexico City skyline through her work as project manager/director of seven high-rise towers, including the tallest building in Mexico City, the 57-story Torre Reforma. Recently, she managed and led structural design teams of two of the world’s mega-airports — King Abdul-Aziz International Airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and the new Mexico City International Airport. In Mexico City, the desire was to develop a single, contiguous envelope without differentiation between the vertical walls, overheard roof, or canopy spaces. Tavolaro led the team in designing a system that can expand and contract thermally without any expansion joints over 1.6 kilometers. As the structural skills leader in Arup’s New York office, she focuses on mentorship of structural staff in the office.