Sunday, March 4, 2018

McMillen Jacobs Associates announces six new principals

McMillen Jacobs Associates announces six principal promotions in the firm’s Underground Division.

John Murray, P.E. is the firm’s New York City and Roseland, New Jersey office manager. Murray has 20 years of experience as a design engineer and project manager on several major tunnel design projects. He has served as a design lead and project manager on a number of design-build and design-bid-build tunnel projects, and his experience includes planning, preliminary design, final design, procurement support, and design support during construction. His experience includes large-diameter water, wastewater, mass transit, and highway tunnels. Murray is currently the design manager for the Catskill Aqueduct Repair and Rehabilitation Project in Upstate New York and is leading the firm’s efforts as part of the program management team on the Ottawa Rail Transit project for the City of Ottawa. He earned his MS in Geotechnical Engineering and BS in Civil Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is a registered Professional Engineer in New York and Georgia.

Kristian Nelson CPEng, PEng, IntPE, is the firm’s Auckland, New Zealand office manager and has worked for 19 years as a civil engineer in Canada and New Zealand specializing in complex marine, temporary works, and ground improvement methods. He has extensive experience planning and delivering projects that maintain client access to facilities and working around operational activities. Nelson is currently the design manager on the Army Bay WWTP Upgrade and Outfall Replacement in Auckland. He earned his BASc in Civil Engineering from University of British Columbia. He is a Chartered Professional Engineer in New Zealand, a Professional Engineer in BC, Canada, and an International Professional Engineer.

Troy Page, PE, is an underground cost estimator with 34 years of experience. He started as a tunnel laborer in Chicago while in school and worked his way up the ranks. He spent 24 years with heavy construction contractors, primarily working on tunnels, shafts, and underground caverns. He has experience in most tunneling methods as well as grouting, estimating, and claims. He develops detailed engineering estimates, performs design feasibility and constructability reviews, and reviews contractor submittals. Page has provided cost estimating services on some of the firm’s most significant tunneling projects, including the Akron Ohio Canal Interceptor Tunnel, Ottawa Light Rail Transit, Central Subway PM/CM, and Ship Canal Water Quality Project. He earned his BS in Civil Engineering from the University of North Dakota and is a Professional Engineer in New York.

Samuel Swartz, PE, is the firm’s newly opened Chicago office manager. He has 19 years of engineering experience with the firm, working on major tunnel design projects. He has served as project manager and design lead on a number of large tunneling projects, including planning, preliminary design, final design, and design support during construction. Swartz is currently leading the final design for Metro Vancouver’s Second Narrows Water Supply Tunnel in Vancouver, BC, Canada. He earned his MS in Civil Engineering at the University of California at Berkeley and his BS in Civil Engineering from the University of Michigan. He is a Registered Professional Engineer in California, Washington, and Illinois.

Mark Trim, CPEng, PE, has 19 years of experience working as a design engineer and manager specializing in permanent and temporary underground structures with an emphasis on tunnel design, deep excavation support systems, soil–structure interaction, and ground improvement technology. A few of the more notable projects he has worked on in North America and Australia are the WestConnex M4 East Project (Sydney, AU), Ottawa Light Rail Transit Project (Ottawa, CAN), Airport Link Project (Brisbane, AU), and Northern Sewerage Project (Melbourne, AU). He is a Chartered Professional Engineer in Australia and a Registered Civil Engineer in New York, Texas, and Washington. He earned his MS in Mining and Earth Systems Engineering and a BS in Civil Engineering from Colorado School of Mines. Mark works in the Sydney, Australia office, which he opened in 2014.

Sarah Wilson, PE, CCM has applied her combined experience in design and construction management to solving problems on underground projects, primarily in water supply and rail transit, for more than 18 years.  Sarah recently served as resident engineer for the SFMTA Central Subway’s $234M Tunnels and $294M Union Square Market Street Station contracts. She currently oversees the firm’s construction management practice as well as serving on the board of directors. She is a past president of the American Rock Mechanics Association and is currently working on an update to the UCA of SME’s publication Recommended Contract Practices for Underground Construction. She earned her MS in Geotechnical Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley, where she is a regularly invited lecturer, and her BS in Civil Engineering from Drexel University, where she was named one of the “Top 40 under 40” in 2015. Sarah is a Registered Professional Civil Engineer in California and a CMAA Certified Construction Manager.

With offices all over the United States and in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, McMillen Jacobs Associates is an employee-owned environmental, engineering, and construction company providing an array of technical services to the heavy civil, underground, and water resources markets.

Friday, February 9, 2018

AEC Management Solutions publishes "Ten Reasons Many A/E Firms Are Underachieving"

AEC Management Solutions, a firm based in Matawan, NJ that helps engineering firms and architects maximize profits, has published its list of reasons firms underachieve:

10. Lack of Accountability
Lack of accountability can and does occur at levels of an underachieving company.  Whether it is partner to partner, partner to project manager or project manager to staff -- seldom are people held accountable for missing deadlines, sloppy work or over budget projects.

9. Accepting Mediocrity

If mediocrity is your goal you will probably succeed.  This goes hand in hand with number 10.  Expectations of employee performance are often set far too low -- and employees do their best to barely achieve it.

8. Lack of Employee Recognition and Employee Rewards
When hard working overachieving employees are not recognized by their supervisors for their hard work it can be demoralizing.  Instead of their performance raising the performance expectations for all employees, it has the opposite effect.  The overachievers become demoralized and they sink to the level of the underachievers.  Public recognition of their hard work and meaningful financial incentives will go a long way in keeping their performance at a high level and inspiring many of the others to do the same.

7. Majoring in Minor Things
Far too many employees fall into the trap of spending too much time in a reactive state of busy work.  They read and respond to unimportant e-mails, returning non-urgent phone calls, attending far too many unproductive meetings, spending time with uninvited drop-in visitors and so on.  This leaves little time to work on the most important items such as producing the work product or closing the deal on a new project

6. Making the Loss-Leader a Way of Life
All too often in my career I have seen severely under-priced projects justified as a loss-leader.  The theory behind the loss-leader is that once the client sees how wonderful we are at producing high quality work and servicing their needs, they will then become a long term client at full pricing.  There are so many things wrong with this theory that one hardly knows where to start (I will go in to more detail in a future article).  The reality is that once you set the price expectation they will expect it all the time.  Another problem is that you won the project on price.  Won't they also be willing to leave you in the future if one of your competitors offers them a lower price?

5. A Lack of Planning
The strategic plan for many firms can be described as follows:
a. Bring in as much work as we can
b. Do our best to create a great design and satisfy the client
c. Hope that we make some money

This strategy may keep a company afloat during prosperous times, but when the tide goes out you are left there without a plan for weathering the tough times.  With the help of an outside facilitator, the most successful firms take time every year to develop or update a strategic plan that:
a. Assesses their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
b. Outlines what the company will look like in 3 to 5 years, including markets served, services offered, revenues and profits
c. Prepares an action plan where key members of the firm commit to follow-up on the plan

4. Not Communicating with the Staff
All too often I work with firms where the partners are not communicating with the staff on the plan for transforming the firm into something more than exists today.  Given this vacuum of communication, the staff is left to assume there is no plan at all.  The most successful firms articulate their plans to the staff, so every employee can be a pro-active participant in helping to achieve the company's goals.

3. Locked into Long-Term Commitments
When times are good, many firms open branch offices, expanded their existing offices, lease new equipment and so on. When time get tough and employees have been laid off and other overhead has been cut to a workable minimum, theyare left with too much office space and equipment.  Unfortunately there is no easy solution to this once the long term commitment has been made. When signing long term leases, most firms would be better off hedging their bets on expansion. A strategy that I have employed in the past is to negotiate an early exit from office leases without penalty in exchange for paying a higher monthly rent.

2. They are not Recognized as an Expert in a Project Type
Despite all of their fine work theri firm is not recognized as the expert.  This allows firms that have created a better reputation to reach down and win projects that should be theirs.  It is unlikely the better reputation firm will best serve the client's needs.  However they have created the perception in the clients mind that they will do a better job.

The fact that your competition is recognized as the expert did not happen by accident.  Most clients cannot tell the difference between good design and great design.  Your competition created the perception of expertise through a well thought out plan that includes a compelling marketing message, interesting website, professional marketing materials and a well executed campaign. There is no reason they cannot do the same.  But they should remember that this is no time to be humble.

1. Not Reinvesting in the Company
When times were good, many firms did not have a plan to reinvest the profits into the company.  Most, if not all, of the profits were taken out of the company for the benefit of the owners, or to avoid double taxation.  This is fime when the economy is humming along but when things turn south, the company is left starved for cash and unable to invest in the needed technology, training and marketing. When are good, be sure to allocate 1/3 of your profits for reinvestment in the company.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Tom Stoneburner named TKDA president/CEO

TKDA has announced that Tom Stoneburner, PE, LEED AP, will become the new president and CEO of TKDA. Stoneburner has been with the employee-owned engineering, architecture, and planning firm for more than 30 years. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, Stoneburner, a civil engineer, has served as vice president of TKDA’s largest division, Facilities Engineering, since 2006.

Stoneburner succeeds Bill Deitner, PE, who is retiring after a nearly 40-year career with the company. Under Deitner’s lead, the 107-year-old firm has expanded beyond its Saint Paul, MN headquarters to add offices in Duluth, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Bernardino, and Vero Beach, Florida. The firm also has a Chicago office.

The firm serves public and private clients in the aviation, municipal, rail, surface transportation, corporate, government, education, and iron mining markets. TKDA’s clients include several top-tier national companies, including 3M, BNSF, Honeywell, Nestle, and the Kraft Heinz Company. The firm also serves many public sector entities, including the Metropolitan Airports Commission, Saint Paul Public Schools, MnDOT, the Minnesota State college system, and many cities and municipalities throughout Minnesota.

“I look forward to building on Bill’s steady leadership as we embark on the next chapter for TKDA”, Stoneburner says. “Our base in Saint Paul is strong and our regional offices are poised for solid growth. I am excited to work with our employee owners and our clients as we enhance our capabilities in the Northland and across the country.” Stoneburner and Deitner will work closely together over the coming month on the transition that will occur in March.

TKDA is an employee-owned provider of engineering, architecture, and planning services to a broad range of public and private markets. For more information, visit

Sunday, December 3, 2017

NJIT's Kamalesh Sirkar wins award for Innovation in Membrane Science and Technology

Kamalesh Sirkar, a chemical engineer at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), has won the 2017 Alan S. Michaels Award for Innovation in Membrane Science and Technology. Sirkar is known for his innovations in industrial membrane technology used to separate and purify air, water, and waste streams and to improve the quality of manufactured products such as pharmaceuticals, solvents, and nanoparticles. The award, given every three years by the North American Membrane Society (NAMS), is named for Alan Michaels, a pioneer in the field credited with breakthroughs in ultrafiltration technology and major contributions to controlled-release drug delivery systems, among other areas.

In honoring Sirkar, a professor of chemical engineering at NJIT, the membrane society pointed to his “long and distinguished career that has included making fundamental contributions to the field of membrane science and engineering, from membrane fabrication to transport processes and performance of membrane systems, and his lifelong service to the membrane separations community.”

Sirkar holds 31 U.S. patents and three in Canada. He is best known for developing the concept of membrane contactors, a process that permits two phases that do not mix, such as two liquids or a liquid and a gas, to contact each other at the pores of a membrane – without dispersing into each other – to introduce or extract specific compounds across it. The technology is used, for example, to introduce carbon dioxide into beverages, to produce concentrations of oxygen at much less than 1 part per billion in ultrapure water needed for semiconductor production, and to extract valuable pharmaceuticals in aqueous-organic extraction systems, among other separation or purification processes. He also developed a novel membrane distillation technology capable of converting sea and brackish water into potable water with a considerably higher water recovery rate than the standard method, reverse osmosis.

NAMS cited his service to the community, including his “seminal contributions” of two books “that serve as references to the community.” He co-edited with Winston Ho the Membrane Handbook in 1992, considered a standard for membrane separations, and recently wrote the more general Separation of Molecules, Macromolecules and Particles: Principles, Phenomena and Processes in which he integrates membranes with classical chemical engineering processes. He has served on the editorial board of the Journal of Membrane Science since 1989 and is the founding editor-in-chief of “Current Opinion in Chemical Engineering” since 2011.

Sirkar, who was elected to the NAMS board of directors in 1996 and served a one-year term as president beginning in 1998, worked with Michaels, who was also a member of the board. “He was a towering figure in our young membrane community who invented a series of membranes for ultrafiltration-based separation of proteins and macromolecules having different molecular weights,” Sirkar recalled. “That was the second big breakthrough in the field of membrane technology, the first being the Loeb-Sourirajan reverse-osmosis membranes for desalination.” He added, “He appeared to be particularly fond of the membrane solvent extraction technique that I developed. In fact, he published a paper utilizing that technique in 1992.”

Looking back on the evolution of his field, Sirkar pointed to a number of successes in addition to reverse osmosis, desalination, and ultrafiltration, including kidney dialysis, membrane separation of air, natural gas and organic vapors, electrodialysis, and the development of membrane bioreactors for water treatment, among others.

The award consists of a $10,000 prize and lifetime membership in NAMS.

As a public technological university, NJIT is a research university with an enrollment of 11,400 graduate and undergraduate students. NJIT specializes in fields such as solar research, nanotechnology, resilient design, tissue engineering, and cybersecurity. NJIT is among the top U.S. polytechnic public universities in research expenditures, exceeding $130 million, and is among the top 1 percent of public colleges and universities in return on educational investment, according to

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Fluor-led joint venture breaks ground on Maryland Purple Line rail project

Fluor Corporation has announced that the Purple Line Transit Partners joint venture team, consisting of Fluor, Meridiam Infrastructure Purple Line, and Star America Purple Line, have broken ground on the Purple Line Light Rail project for the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA).

The groundbreaking was capped off with the signing of the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) of $900 million from its Capital Investment Grant Program. Receiving the FFGA advances a 16-mile new transit option for Maryland residents in one of the most highly congested corridors in the nation.

“Fluor is honored to break ground today on the second transit public-private partnership project in the U.S.,” says Hans Dekker, president of Fluor’s infrastructure business line. “We bring megaproject experience and abilities to design, build, finance, and manage complex projects. Fluor and our partners are currently operating the Denver Eagle P3 commuter rail project, the only other transit P3 in the country, and we look forward to building on its success to deliver the Purple Line.”

Fluor is participating in the entire 36-year life cycle of the $5.6 billion project. Fluor is the managing partner of the design-build team, Purple Line Transit Constructors, consisting of Fluor Enterprises, the Lane Construction Corporation, and Traylor Bros. Following the construction, Purple Line Transit Operators, a Fluor-led team comprising Fluor Enterprises, Alternate Concepts, and CAF USA, will provide 30 years of operations and maintenance services.

Located in the Washington Metropolitan Region, the project includes 21 stations along a 16-mile alignment extending from Bethesda, Maryland, in Montgomery County to New Carrollton, Maryland in Prince George’s County. This new line will provide connections to several existing transit providers and improve mobility to major economic and job centers as well as the University of Maryland in College Park. Passenger service is scheduled to begin in early 2022.
Flour Corporation is a global engineering, procurement, fabrication, construction, and maintenance company that designs, builds, and maintains capital-efficient facilities for its clients on six continents. With headquarters in Irving, Texas, Fluor has more than 60,000 employees worldwide. For more information, visit

Sunday, November 5, 2017

AISES announces new members of board of directors

The American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) has announced the appointment of six new members of its Board of Directors. Joining the AISES board are Grace Bulltail, Kristina Halona, Shaun Tsabetsaye, Adrienne Laverdure, Barney Enos, and Alicia Jacobs.

New members of the AISES Board of Directors include:

Grace Bulltail (general member)

Grace is originally from Crow country in Montana, a member of the Crow Tribe, and a descendant of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Tribes of Fort Berthold, North Dakota. Grace received a bachelor of science in civil and environmental engineering from Stanford University. She completed master’s degree programs at Montana Tech and Columbia University. Grace completed a doctoral program in the Department of Biological & Environmental Engineering in the College of Agricultural & Life Sciences at Cornell University. Her dissertation research focuses on water quality impacts from natural resource development in tribal communities. Grace has worked as an engineer developing water resources infrastructure projects prior to starting her doctoral program. She has also served as an engineering instructor at United Tribes Technical College and continues to work as a consulting engineer. She is a recipient of the GEM Foundation Fellowship, Sloan Indigenous Graduate Partnership Fellowship, NSF IGERT Fellowship, and Cornell Colman Fellowship in completing her graduate studies. Grace is currently a California Alliance postdoctoral fellow in the Departments of Earth System Science and Civil Engineering at Stanford University. Grace has participated in AISES programming for the past 22 years and is an AISES Sequoyah Fellow.

Barney “B.J.” Enos (general member)

B.J. is an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Community and is currently a Council 4 Representative. His roots in AISES started in 1994 when he was a sophomore at Coolidge High School in Coolidge, Arizona.  With a background and undergraduate degree in public health and an advanced degree in public administration, B.J. understands the role AISES plays in supporting the development of skills and capabilities in STEM that will allow Native Americans to learn, grow, and serve their people.

Kristina Halona (general member)

Kristina Halona is a Navajo from Sawmill, Arizona on the Navajo Reservation. She is of the Black Streak Wood People Clan born for the Folded Arms People Clan. The Bitter Water Clan is her maternal grandfather’s clan, and the Salt Clan is her paternal grandfather’s clan. Kristina is an aerospace engineer as a Vehicle Delivery Deputy Lead on the ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) Interceptor Program at Orbital ATK in Chandler, Arizona. Kristina received a B.S.E. degree in aerospace engineering from Arizona State University and a M.S.E. degree in engineering management from George Washington University. Kristina has been an AISES member since middle school, when she competed in AISES science fairs, and that led to AISES scholarships, internships, and leadership opportunities. She has served as an AISES national student representative. As a professional and a Sequoyah Fellow, she has been a part of the AISES professional chapters in the Bay Area, Tucson, and Phoenix. She is currently the Phoenix Professional Chapter vice president.

Alicia Jacobs (associate member)

Alicia received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Sociology from Western Carolina University with a concentration in Native American health and is currently working on her Master of Public Affairs degree. She is passionate about building self-reliance in native youth to build stronger native communities. Her experience includes advocating for Native youth on Capitol Hill, a certified Native Life Skills Trainer, an Qualla Education Collaborative member, and first recipient of the AISES Tribal Partner Service Award. Her experience with AISES began eight years ago when her students began attending annual AISES events.  Her passion to increase Native people in STEM is driven by her commitment to effective communication, collaboration, and community. Increasing the workforce development for the enrolled members in Cherokee, North Carolina has been one of her most rewarding achievements. Her passion for empowering youth goes beyond today as she continues to strive towards making a generational impact of strong leaders for this region and across Indian country. Alicia is an AISES Sequoyah Fellow.

Adrienne Laverdure (general member)

Adrienne Laverdure is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa in North Dakota. She is a board-certified family practice physician at the Peter Christensen Health Center for the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Wisconsin, serving that community for almost 20 years. Dr. Laverdure graduated from the Indians into Medicine program at the University of North Dakota in the late 1980s, where she was an AISES college chapter member. Dr. Laverdure has helped raise two boys that are both in the medical field - one is a doctor in Tuba City, Arizona and the other a psychologist working for the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate in South Dakota. Her daughter is currently going to school at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where Dr. Laverdure volunteers at the Native American Center for Health Professions (NACHIP) program, mentoring and supporting Native STEM students interested in health professions.  Dr. Laverdure is an AISES Sequoyah Fellow.

Shaun Tsabetsaye (general member)

Shaun Tsabetsaye is an enrolled tribal member of the Zuni Pueblo and is an AISES Sequoyah Fellow.  His involvement with AISES began in 1994, and he continues to contribute today as a member of the Corporate Advisory Council.  Shaun has over 13 years of engineering and project management experience.  He is currently at NextEra Energy Resources as a Project Manager of Tribal Renewable Energy Development.  Shaun has earned degrees for Executive Master's of Business Administration and Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering and completed significant work towards a Master's of Engineering in Semiconductors and Electronics Manufacturing.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Chris Hannum joins Entech's principal leadership team

Entech Engineering recently announced that Christopher Hannum, PE has accepted a position as principal on Entech’s executive leadership team, becoming the seventh member of Entech’s current leadership team. Hannum joined Entech in 2012 and oversees engineering for the firm’s water and wastewater projects.

Chris looks forward to applying his 25 years of work experience to help lead the company: “I was humbled and honored to be offered this opportunity. I’ve been surrounded by many professionals throughout my career, but the way Entech approaches projects and clients and the level of talent in-house is special, and I wanted to further commit myself to fostering this company and our culture and people.”

Company President, Jeff Euclide, PE, says, “Entech is owned by company employees, and we are very selective with the leaders we put in place to become principals. Chris has a superb blend of technical and leadership skills that he adds to our leadership team. He will play an important part as we face new challenges as Entech continues to grow and expand.”

Hannum is a registered professional engineer in the state of Pennsylvania and holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Virginia Military Institute and a M.S. in Water Resources and Environmental Engineering from Villanova University. He is also a veteran, having served in the United States Army for 6 years. He has served as an elected director on the Oley Valley School District School Board for the last 12 years.

Based in Reading, Pennsylvania, Entech's engineering, consulting, and architectural teams help clients make more informed decisions as they invest in their facilities and infrastructure. From six offices in Pennsylvania, they employ approximately 100 professionals who serve customers in the municipal, higher education, manufacturing, and oil and natural gas markets. For more information, visit