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From the publisher Jamie Claire Kiser, Managing Principal, Zweig Group
ity of the data and the it’s reflected everywhere from job descriptions to conference agendas. It will no longer be enough to be an engineering firm with a reputation for technical expertise in the next decade. We will continue to hear firms talk more about “purpose” and realize – with heads held as high as our tallest projects reach – that the professionals in the AEC com- munity have an exceedingly noble calling, one that we have to fight to keep from commoditizing, better reflect in how we win work and how we charge for every precious hour of our expertise, and bear in mind as we embrace every single strategic advantage that technology can offer. I hope that our organization can use our publications and our platforms to support the upcoming decade by highlighting stories that allow each reader to better speak to AEC’s contributions to the world with confidence and pride. With reinvigorated talent, laser-focus on running successful businesses, and alignment behind purpose and passion for the work that we do, we will – together – bring in a new era for AEC. To a flourishing 2020 and beyond!
During this bright new start to a fresh year and decade, firms and professionals across the country will embark on strong resolutions and major strategic initiatives. In similar optimistic – though clear-eyed – fashion, I am truly excited to be part of this time in this industry. We are experiencing an introspective wave, a confluence of ideas and factors from economic to environmental coupled with fresh voices and higher aspirations that, as an advisor to civil and structural engineering firms, is thrilling. The talent shortage facing our industry, along with the missing middle tier that abandoned engineering during the last recession, means we are going to be forced to reconcile our preference for a certain definition of sufficient experience and reconsider the role of the project manager and the principal alike in the coming years. There will be tension and concern about elevating younger staff to traditionally more tenured roles. While these conversations unfold, we will improve as businesses by allowing the way we have always done things to give way to the companies of the future. We will question the path to licensure, the role of the engineer in the built environment, and we will design workplace practices that will reflect new voices and changing workforce demo- graphics along the way. This isn’t a crystal-ball projection; it’s the real-
JAMIE CLAIRE KISER is managing principal and director of advisory services at Zweig Group. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Cool ( ing ) Company Data Center Powerhouse ScaleMatrix has a Message for the AEC Industry: Bring it On. By Richard Massey
Foreseeing the time when AEC firms will face data management issues caused by the mainstream implementation of AI and machine learning, California-based ScaleMatrix says it will be ready. Mark Ortenzi and Chris Orlando, the high-performing masterminds and co-founders of ScaleMatrix, have invented a hybrid air/liquid cooled cabinet built to house virtually any hardware needed for an organization’s computing needs. With built-in logic, the cabinets are efficient, high-density, closed-loop, and fully modular. And compared to the installation of a traditional data center, ScaleMatrix can reduce deployment time by as much as 75 percent, a deployment that is mea- sured in days, not months or even years. If this cabinet is the meteorite, the old data center systems are the dinosaurs. The ScaleMatrix cabinet has the ability to scale from 1kW to 52kW of workload, and it can handle anything an AEC firm can produce, especially as the industry has yet to employ AI and other cognitive technologies on a meaningful scale. However, with AI technology expected to boom in the coming years, that will probably change as engineering firms follow the lead of more progressive segments of the economy. In a nutshell, data growth leads to compute and density increases – more processors – which leads to more power outputs, and thus in- creased heat, which leads to heightened cooling requirements. In the old days, the raised floor, the wind tunnel, and the chilled room were sufficient. Ortenzi and Orlando know all about it, because it was in the data center industry where they cut their teeth and made their names. But even as they flourished in that industry, they also saw the need for disruption. With important partnerships with leading companies like Hewlett Packard Enterprise and NVIDIA – ScaleMatrix is a select partner in NVIDIA’s DGX-ready data center program – and now with data centers in San Diego, Seattle, Houston, Charlotte, and Jacksonville, ScaleMatrix upped the ante with the recent acquisition of Instant Data Centers, a deal that adds ruggedized, micro-data centers that can func- tion on the edge – near the action and in remote locations, like a mine. Even though the technology behind what ScaleMatrix does is perhaps dizzying, the philosophy is quite simple. “Everything we do in this business is power and cooling,” Ortenzi said. “Next to labor, power is the biggest expense. It takes so many amps to cool so many amps. It takes so many watts to cool so many watts.” The cabinets have built-in logic that responds to usage requirements, making the variable system “one big, breathing animal that modulates based on requirements,” Ortenzi said. The ScaleMatrix design includes
From left, Mark Ortenzi and Chris Orlando, co-founders of ScaleMatrix. Photo: ScaleMatrix
full cooling support, redundant power supply, fire suppression, and integrated network support. When one cabinet gets filled up, just add another one. While ScaleMatrix at first offered cloud and colocation services, it has since added another distinct business line, the DDC™ cabinet for companies that want them for their own data centers. While the reaction from the market has certainly been favorable – ScaleMatrix had 2018 combined sales of about $20 million and em- ploys 52 people – it wasn’t necessarily instant and overwhelming. “That’s a great novelty, but who needs that?” Ortenzi said, referring to the initial reaction he and Orlando got when they introduced a system that could handle such a heavy workload. But all that changed about two years ago, when AI and machine learning came in from the fringe and entered the mainstream. Seem- ingly overnight, companies were dealing with more data than ever, and ScaleMatrix started fielding calls from all across the country, and even the world. “All of a sudden, two years ago, all hell breaks loose and no one knew what to do,” Ortenzi said. “We’ve set ourselves up to be in a position to help people. Where else are they going to go?” The Industry A recent M&A deal in the AEC industry, and leading research, says that the ScaleMatrix hunch is probably correct – engineering firms are going to embrace big data and the means to manage it, for themselves and for their clients. Harley Ellis Devereaux, a 400-plus person engineering firm with of- fices in Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Sacramento, just merged with Integrated Design Group, an architec- ture, engineering, and planning firm with an established reputation in the field of data center design. In the media surrounding the merger, HED leadership recognized the emerging importance of data center design and its relationship to mission-critical sectors like healthcare and higher education.
csengineermag.com january 2020
passed the $19 billion mark. Cybersecurity, according to the Deloitte study, remains a prime concern, as does the skills gap, among those employing cognitive systems. The study was based on the results of a survey of 1,100 IT and line-of-business executives from US-based companies in Q3 2018. Deloitte’s conclusion, while general to all industries, could apply to any AEC firm that branches out into AI and machine learning. “Our survey results clearly show that growing numbers of companies are becoming more sophisticated in their usage of AI technologies. Now is the time for organizations to start selecting the business-use cases that can deliver measurable value through AI-powered capabili- ties.” The Partnership The partnership between Ortenzi and Orlando has stood the test of time, 18 years to be exact. Their tactic is fairly simple – divide and conquer. Ortenzi mans the “back of the house” with research and development, design and engineering, while Orlando works the “front of the house” with business development, sales, and marketing. Together, the two of them log about one million air miles per year. The hectic schedule means they don’t see each other too often. “It’s been an interesting road,” Ortenzi jokingly said. “Whenever we’re together it’s either really good or really bad.” Ortenzi dates his tech career back to the early 1980s – MS-DOS, 8088 processors, and the dawn of the “network or networks,” now known as the Internet. With a laugh, he guesses that he has built upwards of 4,000 servers in his day. A self-taught computer technician, Ortenzi has a degree in business administration from the University of Colorado. Like Ortenzi, Orlando also traces his tech roots back to the early years, when he was just 18. He started out testing RFID in clothing, meat- packing, shoes, and other products. From RFID he came up through the data center scene in Southern California, crossing paths with Ortenzi in 2004. Orlando has a degree in international business from San Diego State University. Orlando is always looking ahead to the next big thing. But he also understands the value of what happened in the past, specifically as it relates to his partnership with Ortenzi. “We’ve been blessed,” he said. “We’ve had about two or three cross words [in the last 18 years].” The results of the partnership speak for themselves. “We now have one of the most complete and capable cabinet platforms in the world,” Orlando said. “We are able to serve a customer wherever their demands are.”
Chris Orlando, center left, with NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang, center right, standing in front of a ScaleMatrix cabinet at the NVIDIA GTC conference in San Jose in March. Photo: NVIDIA
In Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam recently announced that M.C. Dean, an electrical design-build and systems integration firm for mission-crit- ical organizations, will invest $25.1 million to incorporate a new prod- uct line at its fabrication and distribution facility in Caroline County. The expansion, which opens this summer, will double the company’s manufacturing capacity to support high-growth, mission-critical cus- tomers such as airports, healthcare facilities, and data centers. In 2017, McKinsey & Company, in its report, “The New Age of Engi- neering and Construction Technology,” announced that the engineering and construction industry “is at the cusp of a new era, with technology start-ups creating new applications and tools that are changing how companies design, plan, and execute projects.” The report cited applications of cutting-edge technologies across the full gamut of the AEC cycle, from design to preconstruction, and from construction to operations and management. In a subsequent report, however, McKinsey & Company concluded that “adoption of AI solu- tions is quite low in E&C [Engineering & Construction], particularly compared with other industries.” Last year, in “State of AI in the Enterprise, 2nd Edition,” Deloitte reported that the global market in cognitive technologies has already The ScaleMatrix cabinet system at work at a Future-Proof data center. Photo: ScaleMatrix
RICHARD MASSEY is managing editor of Zweig Group publications. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Photo: New Orleans International Airport
Many things come to mind when people think of New Orleans – the beautiful architecture of the buildings, the vibrancy of the French Quar- ter and, of course, the landmark Superdome for great sporting events. What they probably don’t picture is a spectacular world-class airport welcoming them to the Big Easy, but that’s exactly what millions of air travelers will soon experience when they visit the Crescent City. A visionary project of the City of New Orleans, the new terminal at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport will showcase the vibrant spirit and distinct culture of the city. The Hunt-Gibbs-Boh- Metro Joint Venture team was the construction manager of this $1 bil- lion game-changing project, which is one of the most visible symbols of infrastructure rebuilding in the Gulf South region post-Katrina. Iconic design The world-class design of the 972,000-square-foot replacement termi- nal was conceived by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects and executed by the Crescent City Aviation Team, a joint venture of Leo A. Daly Company and Atkins North America, Inc. The complex will feature three concourses with 35 passenger gates, seamless connections between concourses, nearly 80,000 square feet of retail space, parking garages and a surface parking lot, and an enor- mous concrete apron that ties into existing runways. Innovative Columns Support New Orleans Airport Advanced self-consolidating concrete provides the ideal solution to challenges in constructing tall and complex columns at world-class terminal. By Stephen Salzer and Dennis Traylor
According to the design team, the terminal’s architectural form evokes the geography of the Delta region and the soft curves of the Mississippi River. The curved, T-shaped building forms a gentle arc on three sides, and a monumental roof rises toward the structure’s centerline where it crests over a large central skylight. Designed to allow long spans, the spherical-shaped roof is supported by massive concrete columns to reflect the region’s modern and upward trajectory. Column construction challenges To optimize the complex geometric design of the structure, the project team used specialized software to distribute the column grid, optimize the roof shape and right-size the building footprint. They also relied on innovative building materials throughout the project, including an ad- vanced self-consolidating concrete (SCC) to produce the 350 massive support columns for the superstructure. The heights of the 40-inch and 48-inch terminal columns ranged from 47 to 73 feet, and the heights of the 28-inch and 30-inch concourse columns ranged from 33 to 51 feet.
Designed to allow long spans, the spherical-shaped roof of the terminal is supported by massive concrete columns to reflect the region’s modern and upward trajectory. Photo: New Orleans International Airport
csengineermag.com january 2020
Construction required an advanced SCC solution to flow through and consolidate around highly congested reinforcement in the columns without the use of vibrators. Photo: New Orleans International Airport
One of the biggest challenges in constructing the tall and complex columns was finding the ideal concrete mix that would perform on a variety of levels. The use of a conventional concrete was not an option for this application due to all the highly congested steel reinforcement, embeds and anchor bolts within the columns. In addition, project specifications required a high-quality class A exposed concrete finish, which would not be possible using a standard concrete mix. According to Mike Lopez, project superintendent at Gibbs Construc- tion, the project team needed an innovative concrete solution that would flow easily through and firmly self-consolidate around all the highly congested embedded reinforcement within the columns, as well as achieve a 28-day compressive strength of 7,000 psi. The concrete also needed to produce a smooth high-end surface aesthetic that the owner was expecting with every pour. Selecting the right mix To meet the stringent performance criteria for this high-vertical ap- plication, the project team selected an advanced self-consolidating concrete (SCC), called Agileflow™ (formerly Agilia®). This highly fluid concrete places more quickly than standard concrete, flows easily through highly congested reinforcement and provides superior non- segregation properties for greater structural integrity. Other advantages of the SCC technology include increased strength, higher-quality fin- ished surfaces and reduced production times and labor costs. “We used this very workable SCC mix provided by Lafarge on another project that had very large transfer beams containing highly congested steel rebar and post-tensioned cables,” said Lopez. “Based on the prod- uct’s performance in that extremely challenging application, we were confident that it was the ideal solution for constructing the structural support columns at the airport.” Based on all the logistics challenges and other delays that come with working on a 100-acre airport construction site, the ability of the product to maintain its workability for up to two hours was another
benefit valued by the project team. With most standard SCC mixes, the spread starts to decline tremendously at 1 hour and could cause
stability problems. Custom solution
Following a common defined procedure, Agileflow mixes are custom- designed based on the targeted performance properties for each site- specific application. The key to successful performance requires special care in the selection and proper proportioning of materials in the mix to avoid segregation while providing optimal workability properties. Primary considerations in developing the optimal concrete for the airport columns were flowability, viscosity, compressive strength, durability and maximum temperature gain control. Key performance parameters included compressive strength of 7,000 psi at 28 days, maximum temperature of 95 degrees F, and spread of 28 to 31 inches. “We design our Agileflow advanced SCC mixes to flow at higher ca- pacities and to avoid separation in applications with high drop heights,” said BJ Eckholdt, quality control manager at Lafarge, a member of LafargeHolcim. “With the concrete developed for the airport columns,
The Agileflow SCC product allowed for a high-quality smooth painted finish on the columns. Photo: New Orleans International Airport
we could easily take the spread to 31 inches, whereas most standard SCC mixes would fall apart at that mark.” To achieve specified perfor- mance goals, the SCC mix for the columns contained a high percentage of cementitious material to control heat gain. As a final step, a demonstration trial was run in a job-site column form to fine-tune the mix and ensure stakeholder expectations were met with flow through and consolidation around the heavily congested reinforcement, strength attainment, and surface finish quality. Work gets underway Construction on the airport project kicked off in January 2016. Six months later, crews were placing pile caps on more than 4,000 pre- stressed, precast concrete piles that were driven 100 feet into sand strata to support the weight of the superstructure. The building’s concrete columns were each supported by four to twelve of these 14-inch-square piles. All of the structural columns were constructed in 20-foot lifts. Work on the exterior perimeter columns started with soil excavation for column placement and then pouring a concrete footing over the pile caps. A rebar cage –assembled horizontally– was then lifted by a crane, placed vertically onto the footing and attached to the footing’s metal starter bars. After cleaning the formwork and applying a release agent to prevent the bonding of concrete to it, crews bolted the two-piece steel formwork around the rebar cage and poured the concrete into the form. The superstructure was designed with a moment-frame system – a hy- brid of steel beams connected to embeds on the concrete columns – to keep the internal spaces of the building as open as possible. Concrete for the internal columns was poured up to the second-floor of the struc- ture and then steel erectors assembled the structural steel. After the deck was put in place, concrete was poured for the second-floor slab and crews worked off the slab to extend the columns up to the third floor. This same work process was followed to extend the columns up to the roof line.
The column rebar cage was placed on a concrete footing poured over four to twelve piles. Photo: Gibbs Construction
Working the terminal and concourses at the same time, the project team required seven cranes on the job site for all the concrete column construction activity. Following a tight production schedule, crews were pouring concrete in 20-foot lifts on four or five columns a day, removing formwork after 12 to 24 hours and starting the next 20-foot lift the next day. Prior to every pour, an independent quality-control laboratory tested the SCC mix to ensure the temperature was below its maximum specified value and that the spread was within the desired range for placement. Six to eight test cylinders were also taken to de- termine 7-day and 28-day strength breaks. The columns were hitting their seven-day strengths in three to four days. A new world-class aerial landmark When the new modern terminal opens in May, it will not only be an example of outstanding design and stellar engineering, but also a trib- ute to all the construction trades in making the architectural vision a reality. Construction of the 350 structural columns took about 12 months and required more than 6,500 cubic yards of the Agileflow concrete to complete. The specified compressive strength on this project was 7,000 psi at 28 days; however, the SCC mix consistently achieved strengths surpassing 11,000 psi. “We are all very proud to have played a role in the successful comple- tion of this magnificent new aerial landmark and the lasting impression it will leave for millions of visitors to the city of New Orleans,” said Lopez. “The superb self-consolidating properties of the advanced SCC product was a great solution to our column production challenges, and the surface finish allowed for the final field finish with minimal rubbing and patching—a huge benefit in terms of time and labor cost savings.”
STEPHEN SALZER (firstname.lastname@example.org) is sales manager and DENNIS TRAYLOR (email@example.com) is assistant quality control manager at Lafarge, a member of LafargeHolcim (www.MaterialsThatPerform.com). They can be reached at (504) 834-3341.
All the concrete structural columns for the terminal were constructed in 20-foot lifts. Photo: New Orleans International Airport
csengineermag.com january 2020
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Growth has been a Zweig Group mantra since its founding in 1988. Driv- ing evolution and elevating the industry continue as core to our mission. Twenty years ago, Zweig Group created the Hot Firm Conference, origi- nally inspired by the Inc. 500, which quickly became the AEC industry’s iconic growth and awards conference. Over the years, our event has evolved along with the company.
EVOLUTION OF A CONFERENCE By Chad Clinehens
“We invite you to celebrate the industry while learning from its best- performing firms and leaders.”
Continued on page 12
As Zweig Group expanded our national awards programs, so did the options for conferences that focused on numerous individual awards like Best Firms To Work For. I attended my first Hot Firm six years ago in Miami. I was impressed with the opportunity to improve the event by combining all the award winners in one larger conference. The best practices shared, new relationships formed, and synergistic celebra- tions seemed like a tremendous benefit of this new approach. With the newest iteration of this industry event, the Elevate AEC Conference & Awards Gala, it seems apropos to take a trip down memory lane and recognize the importance of this event on the AEC industry, and to reflect on just how far we’ve come. • 2013: The Hot Firm Conference, Miami: 2013 was the last year that Hot Firm winners celebrated with their own conference. With an attendance of just over 90, Hot Firm was held at the Eden Roc in Miami. We named Grant Gibson, CEO of GATE, as the 2013 Jerry Allen Courage in Leadership Award winner and celebrated the top 100 Hot Firms of 2013. This conference in- spired the need for a much greater investment and increased effort in the production level. • 2014: Hot Firm and A/E Industry Awards Conference, Beverly Hills: This was the inaugural year for a combined awards conference where Hot Firm and Best Firms To Work For award winners celebrated together. This was also the first year that Marketing Excellence Awards were recognized in a ceremony; the program was previously mail-in only. The production level took a giant leap, becoming a hybrid rock concert meets Hollywood awards banquet infused with a consumer electronics show. Zweig Group’s investment also extended to the educational portion of the conference and an increased attendance of nearly 120 guests at the Beverly Hilton. The venue alone was an enormous nod to the increased attention to elevating the conference and awards gala, as the hotel has famously hosted The Golden Globes since 1961. The hotel provided a fantastic backdrop for our event and even offered a couple of star sightings with Jennifer Aniston and Gene Simmons spotted on the property. Wm. Brock Johnson, former CEO of Garver, was named posthumously as the 2014 Jerry Allen Courage in Leadership award winner. • 2015: Hot Firm and A/E Industry Awards Conference, Boston: With an atten- dance of just over 180, the conference was held at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston, earning rave reviews from attendees. Zweig Group continued its investment in the conference and awards gala, with improved educational sessions and a bigger ceremony. Marian Young, President of Brightfields, was named the 2015 Jerry Allen Courage in Leadership Award winner and we continued to collectively celebrate the Hot Firm, Best Firms To Work For, and the Marketing Excellence Award winners. • 2016: Hot Firm and A/E Industry Awards Conference, Phoenix: This year saw fantastic growth in attendance, with more than 220 guests at the Arizona Biltmore Resort, which provided an immersive architectural experience. Sonia A. Martinez, CFO of BCC Engineering, was named the 2016 Jerry Allen Courage in Leadership Award winner. We again celebrated the Hot Firm, Best Firms To Work For, and the Marketing Excellence Award Winners. • 2017: Hot Firm and A/E Industry Awards Conference, Seattle: The Fairmont Olympic Hotel provided an upscale experience in the heart of downtown Se- attle, close to a wealth of shopping and dining options. With an attendance of just over 280, the conference was the first to offer an after-party experience
with party bus transportation to CenturyLink Field for the Coldplay “Head of Dreams” concert. John McAdams, Founder of McAdams, was named the 2017 Jerry Allen Courage in Leadership Award winner. He was the first recipient to receive this award without prior knowledge, culminating in a surprise reveal during the awards ceremony. • 2018: Hot Firm and A/E Industry Awards Conference, Dallas: 2018 was the last year under the Hot Firm and A/E Industry Awards Conference name, as Zweig Group unveiled a new mission, “Elevate the Industry.” Appropriately, the name was changed to Elevate AEC Conference & Awards Gala. Nearly 290 attendees enjoyed the largest event to date at the Fairmont Dallas. The finale included an after party with a performance by dance-and-disco band Ultra Suede. 2018 was the first year the Rising Stars and Top New Venture award winners were added to the conference. David Goodson, a Dallas native and CEO of RLG, was named the 2018 Jerry Allen Courage in Leadership Award winner. • 2019: Elevate AEC Conference & Awards Gala, Las Vegas: The conference, formerly known as the Hot Firm and A/E Industry Awards Conference, became the Elevate AEC Conference & Awards Gala to recognize and celebrate Zweig Group’s newly established purpose to elevate the industry. This past year, the conference expanded with additional breakout tracts, a pre-conference focused on mergers and acquisitions, the M&A Next Symposium, and an epic after party at The Mirage to see Cirque du Soleil’s “The Beatles LOVE.” Atten- dance broke records, making this conference the biggest and best to date. We invite you to attend the 2020 Elevate AEC Conference and Awards Gala in Denver, Colorado. Bring your spouse, partners – even your entire team – to help celebrate the industry while learning from its best- performing firms and leaders. This evolved conference is certain to elevate you both personally and professionally. For more information, contact Marci Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-725-4871, or visit zweiggroup.com.
CHAD CLINEHENS is Zweig Group’s president and CEO. Contact him at email@example.com.
csengineermag.com january 2020
A Cinematic Mindset Winner of the Second Annual C+S Engineering Drone Video of the Year Award Wants Clients to Feel What They See. By Richard Massey
It all started with a phone call back in 2014. An old dorm was being imploded on the campus of Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. The project manager wanted a drone video of the event, so he called Jordan Nelson, a local who was known for the entertaining videos he’d been posting on social media. Nelson, owner and founder of Nelson Aerial Productions, took the job. Good decision. The contractor on the project, D.H. Griffin, had plenty of more work in terms of demolitions, so Nelson became part of the package, shooting a total of 11 implosions with the wrecking company. That body of work, compiled over the course of four years, went into “The Big Boom.” The video earned NelsonAerial Productions the C+S Engineering Drone Video of Year award during live voting this spring at the AUVSI XPONENTIAL conference in Chicago. Footage from 10 separate projects – shot primarily with a DJI Inspire 2 drone carry- ing an X5S camera – included demolition of the Georgia Dome, coal plants, and office buildings. The compilation, from 8 projects filmed for D.H. Griffin and two for Pettigrew Inc., took 12 hours of intense editing, and effectively chronicled an entirely new business line for Nelson. Earning the lion’s share of the more than 18,000 votes cast at AUVSI, “The Big Boom” represents a groundbreaking triumph for Nelson, who has spent countless hours in the field and in front of the computer honing his craft. Now the world knows what he’s been up to the last few years. “This is a huge honor,” Nelson said. “All the hard work paid off know- ing people saw it and appreciate the creativity and effort. Every video I create, I want it to be better than the last one.” Video runner-ups were: “Contact Inspection Drone for Civil Engineer- ing Structures” by CATEC, and “Longmeadow Parkway” by Civiltech Engineering, Inc. “Aerial Buzz,” a division of Spiracle Media, won last year’s inaugural event. Nelson, 30, did not go to college for what he does for a living. Self- taught with the help of YouTube, online tutorials, and old-fashioned trial and error, he graduated from Appalachian State with a degree in Geography, and only jumped into serious video production after col- lege. So, the story begins on the ski slopes around Boone. Using GoPro cameras, Nelson captured his snowboarding adventures and posted them to social media. He took a keen interest in how the cameras were mounted, and when he saw one attached to a drone, Nelson was
Jordan Nelson documents the progress of a large-scale demolition site near Charlotte, NC with an Inspire 2. Photo: Nelson Aerial Productions
hooked. Moving beyond snowboarding, he ventured into aerial shots in and around Boone, situated in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains. It was those videos, not so much the snowboarding pieces, that captured the public’s imagination – and caught the eye of the project manager on the dorm demolition. “He just decided to call me up,” Nelson said. “That phone call started all of it.” Fast-forward to today, and Nelson is enjoying the payoff, both in con- tracts and in notoriety. The Boone Chamber of Commerce honored his big AUVSI win with a major press release. Not content to sit still, Nelson plans on expanding his production team, and cracking into yet another business unit, inspections. Nelson also documents natural disasters, such as hurricanes Matthew and Florence in 2016 and 2018, respectively, the 2015 flood in Columbia, South Carolina, and the 2017 flood in Boone, which garnered a plump one million views on Facebook. Nelson records in either Cinema DNG or Apple ProRes at up to 5.2K resolution. His current fleet of drones is composed of an Inspire 2, Mavic 2 Pro, Phantom 4 Pro, Inspire 1, Mavic Pro, and a Mavic 2 En- terprise Dual which is used primarily for search and rescue operations. To ensure that his work is always at hand, he relies on a network of storage systems or, as Nelson likes to say, “back-up for the back-ups” anchored by multiple 12-terabyte drives. While there are plenty of technical aspects to Nelson’s profession, there’s certainly room for art, and it’s something he always strives for. Of his videos, he had this to say: “They might not remember what they saw, but they’ll remember what they felt.”
RICHARD MASSEY is managing editor of Zweig Group publications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Earthquake that Killed 315,000 People H. Kit Miyamoto, Ph.D., S.E.
Ten years ago this month, a great earthquake of magnitude 7 devastated the capital city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, which is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. Haiti was not prepared and suffered greatly. The earthquake destroyed 220,000 buildings and killed 315,000 people. It is the deadli- est earthquake in history. This was my first journal entry on the fateful day. I want to share it with you on this anniversary month so you can see the reality when engineering fails. 2 a.m., January 20, 2010
I wake up to the sound of a shotgun blast just outside the room I am sleeping in. It was a close shot in the small backyard. This is the first time I have been awakened by a gunshot. I quickly roll out of bed and slowly crawl up to the window to peer into the backyard and investigate. It is eerie silent. No one is visible. I decide to go back to sleep. What else I can do? I don’t want to go to outside and see what is going on. As I fall asleep, I think about the 4,000 criminal inmates who, according to news reports, have escaped from the earthquake-damaged maximum-security jail in downtown Port-au- Prince. I wonder if the gunshot has something to do with them. Gentle swings of a magnitude 6.1 aftershock wake me at 6:03 am. It is interesting feeling. I am not afraid; I am almost comforted by the feeling of the motion of being swung. I rationalize that the house I am in withstood a magnitude 7 earthquake a week ago. Field tested. Plus, I am too tired. Dan, a fellow disaster relief worker, pops into my room and yells, “Kit, it’s an aftershock! What should we do?” I sit up in bed. “Relax,” I reply. “Let’s get some breakfast.” After eating stale raisin flakes with warm milk, we head out to investigate the damages. In the morning light, as we drive through the town, the destruction is highly visible. I see a refugee’s camp with a knee-high pile of waste. Cars pancaked under buildings. In some cases, bodies still sit on seats inside. People digging through piles of concrete for missing people with little or no tools. Twisted metal and concrete everywhere. A distant, hillside shantytown swallowed by landslide. All of these visuals are wrapped with the smell of car exhaust and death. The smell reminds me of magnitude 7.9 earthquake in Sichuan, China in 2008 that killed thousands of school children. It is a strange, tangy smell mixed with dust. Once you smell it, it stays with you forever. I look around and wonder if hell has material- ized in this bright, Caribbean morning. We reach the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) office, who is our partner. I am here to assist them. I meet with a World Bank officer, Gary. “I am looking for an engineer to investigate collapsed government buildings,” he says. “PADF tells me you are the one. I don’t know who you are, but need your help. Come with me.” I hop into his truck with our team. I learn that Guilaine, a human rights attorney who has volunteered as a translator, is a quick thinking and witty Haitian lady. Eric, a former Haitian cabinet member, is a PADF engineer who is well respected and connected with the community. Our driver, Canes, maneuvers through the debris-filled city. This guy is good – a fantastic off-road driver in this urban disaster setting. He must backtrack many times to avoid the debris-blocked and traffic-jammed roads. We enter the devas- tated downtown…… To be continued
H. KIT MIYAMOTO, PH.D., S.E., is the CEO and a structural engineer for Miyamoto International (http://miyamotointernational.com), a California seismic safety commis- sioner, and president of the technical nonprofit Miyamoto Global Disaster Relief. He specializes in high-performance earthquake engineering and disaster mitigation, response, and reconstruction.
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A Global Journey With Milestones
He’s already done plenty of meet-and-greets and traveled many thousands of miles. That Matt Cummings, P.E., would journey across the world and connect with some of the AEC industry’s most talented people was a foregone conclusion when, in April, he was named presi- dent and CEO of T.Y. Lin International (TYLI) Group. Indeed, the United States, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe comprise the grand stage from which Cummings will spearhead his most ambi- tious project yet. Creating an affiliation of global infrastructure compa- nies, all of them under TYLI’s parent company, the Dar Group, that can compete with the world’s largest firms for the world’s largest projects. Simple enough, right? Recruited out of mega-firm AECOM, where over the course of more than 26 years he shaped both his technical and management expertise, Cummings said he’s invigorated by the en- trepreneurial spirit baked into the DNA of a smaller, privately-owned company. Plus, Cummings said he’s honored to have his hand on the reins of a firm like TYLI. Founded in 1954 by Chinese engineering prodigy Tung-Yen Lin, the firm does half its business in China and Southeast Asia, but is headquartered in California with offices throughout the Americas and Asia. The firm, old and prestigious, has a sterling brand, particularly in the field of bridge building. “That made a big difference for me,” Cummings said, referring to the firm’s global reputation for exceptional work. He likes to build collaborative teams, a must in the AEC world. Just as important, however, is the process of managing integration, something Cummings saw a lot of during his years at AECOM, and something he will have to do, and on a global scale involving thousands of people, in the years ahead. Emerging as the top candidate in a wide-ranging executive search, Cummings, a bridge builder himself, seems to be a natural fit for TYLI. In the press release announcing his hire, Cummings voiced his enthu- siasm for the new opportunity. “T.Y. Lin International has established itself as the go-to firm for solu- tions to the most difficult engineering challenges,” he said. “We are globally recognized for setting the standards for excellence, innova- tion, and incomparable technical solutions. I look forward to build- ing on our momentum and furthering the firm’s legacy of delivering remarkable infrastructure projects.” Matt Cummings, P.E., Leads T.Y. Lin International’s Efforts to Affiliate Infrastructure Firms Under Dar Group Umbrella By Richard Massey
The Samuel De Champlain Bridge, Montreal, Canada. Photo: Infrastructure Canada
He succeeds former President and CEOAlvaro J. Piedrahita, P.E., who transitioned to a new role as Chairman of the Board of Directors of TYLI Group. Cummings, who holds a bachelor’s in civil engineering from Lehigh University and completed the Wharton Management Program at The Wharton School, now finds himself at the top. But with more than 30 years in the business, he had to work for what he’s got. His recipe for success is pretty simple: “It takes perseverance, some good fortune, and a lot of diplomacy along the way. You don’t give up.” A Q&A with Matt Cummings C+S: After more than 26 years at AECOM, you were named President and CEO of T.Y. Lin International Group. What opportunity did you see at TYLI that you did not see at AECOM? TYLI has a storied brand and reputation in the marketplace. It’s a great opportunity that Dar Group represents, to tie the infrastructure pillar companies in an affiliated way and as a collaborative partnership. The companies include T.Y. Lin International, Landrum & Brown, Ross & Baruzzini, Integral Group, and GPO Group. TYLI is a smaller, private entity with real entrepreneurial spirit. This is a challenging opportunity to strike out in a slightly different way in the same industry. C+S: You worked for one of the giants of the industry for a quarter of a century. Still, TYLI is a big firm, an old firm, and a prestigious firm that has plenty of signature projects in its portfolio, like the elevated bridges in Taiwan, the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge, and the Eastern Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. What’s it like being the president and CEO of a firm with the brand value of TYLI? It’s really a privilege to work for TYLI and to build on the great brand. T.Y. Lin, the person, is an inspiration as an original innovator in bridge design. It’s a happy coincidence to land at TYLI as I am a former bridge engineer. I have a lot of respect for the professionals that build these beautiful structures.
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Any kind of change and overcoming the inertia of the way things have been done, is always a challenge. We must work hard to overcome it, but it’s not insurmountable. With thoughtful communication, trans- parency, and laying out a strong, clear strategy and approach, we’ll succeed. C+S: What is the timeline on the formation of this new group? This is an exciting time with high potential, but nothing will happen overnight. There will be no radical shifts in the TYLI brand. We’re engaged in a thoughtful process aimed at close collaboration among companies to be able to deliver large, complex projects around the world. Collaboration among firms under the Dar Group’s Infrastruc- ture pillar, and across pillars, will allow us to compete with the largest firms for the largest global projects. C+S: When you have brought the companies together for an expanded, global presence, what would be the goal of the new entity? To deliver our specialized expertise across a broader global platform. To provide opportunities for our people to excel. C+S: Dar Group’s mission is to create sustainable communities world- wide. What does that mean to you and how do you go about realizing the mission? Along with all our people here, I take great pride in designing the beau- tiful structures and infrastructure in their communities. We live where the projects are built, and there’s a great source of pride in delivering on needed infrastructure that the communities and all our people value. C+S: You are, and have been, a global player. When you were at The Wharton School, did you see this type of future ahead of you? This opportunity combines the experience I’ve cultivated over my career of 30 years, my training that includes Wharton, my engineering background, and my entrepreneurial spirit. This is the perfect opportu- nity for me. At the foundation, I’m an engineer. I’m passionate about building a better world and building the infrastructure that our society and communities need. Wharton certainly pointed me in a good direction, but I didn’t envision everything playing out the way it has. As a mid-career engineer at the time, Wharton helped round-out my business, strategy, and leadership skills. It gave me the exposure I needed to realize you can do important things and change your path from technical to business leadership, and that’s been a valuable lesson.
San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge New East Span. Photo: Thomas Heinser
C+S: The press release announcing your position says you plan to “leverage the strength of and unite the various global infrastructure affiliates” beneath parent company the Dar Group. The parent com- pany employs nearly 19,000 people in 296 offices in 59 countries and has annual revenue of about $2.4 billion. Tying all this together would seem like a Herculean task. What kinds of resources, and over what kind of timeframe, must you deploy to make this happen? This is going to be an evolution. It won’t have a hard beginning with a hard end. It’ll be a journey with milestones along the way, measured more in years rather than months. It will be a thoughtful journey. We have great staff and leadership at TYLI and at the other firms. They will all contribute to making the strategy successful. C+S: As you assess the various companies in the process of bringing them together, what are a few of the key things you will be looking for – what do you need to find to make this endeavor successful? It all starts with people. Being new to the enterprise, I’m getting to know all the people and their leadership and capabilities, both within TYLI and our affiliate companies. To date, I have visited locations within the U.S. I’ll be visiting our Asia locations, and then Jordan, to discuss strategy with Dar leadership, followed by a trip to Europe to meet with affiliates there. It’ll be important to not only form a col- laboration, but to also ensure the success and health of each entity. I’ll also keep an eye on the health, prosperity and growth of TYLI, and the other firms, looking at the broader strategy of collaboration. The collaborative concept has been formulating over the years. We’re com- ing together to thoughtfully bring all the people and companies along using a well aligned strategy. I’m a connector at heart and feel strongly about forming teams and supporting collaboration among people. C+S: As you seek to bring the various pieces of the Dar Group to- gether, what is expected to be the biggest challenge to overcome?
RICHARD MASSEY is managing editor of Zweig Group publications. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Welcome to Rising Stars 2019, presented by Civil + Structural Engineer magazine. The eighth annual celebration of the AEC industry’s top talent features 10 Civil and 10 Structural engineers, all under the age of 40 at the time of their nomination. Though they come from different parts of the United States and the world, went to different schools, and have honed different specialties, they all share a few things in common – leadership, technical ability, and service to their professions, firms, and communities. These 20 recipients have distinguished themselves in an oftentimes thankless world of intense competition, impossible deadlines, confounding problems, and unrealistic client demands. Instead of being undone by obstacles, they overcome them. Their reward? The respect of their peers.
Rising stars in civil engineering
Jeff Roman Partner, Engineering Practice Leader Little Charlotte, North Carolina
Roman has led the Engineering Practice at Little to six years of profitable growth, quadru- pling staff and revenue while expanding engineering to all offices and adding new service offerings. He created a vision and core values and successfully implemented a culture change to build Little’s national engineering practice. In 2018, he became the first engineer to join the partnership and is currently the youngest partner. In 2019, he was selected for a three-year term on Little’s Board of Directors. Accomplishments: • Civil engineer of record for multiple projects at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers. • Civil engineer of record for most projects within the Forum at Fort Myers, a 700-arce mixed- use development. • Client relationship manager and project manager for new construction and renovations for automotive dealerships nationwide for Sonic Automotive. Public/Professional Service: Roman gives back to the engineering profession with his pas- sion for STEM education. His outreach efforts have impacted well over 1,000 students during the last 15 years. Roman speaks in K-12 and college classrooms presenting about engineering and facilitating fun hands-on activities. He leads Little’s efforts to host students for field trips and job shadowing, host teachers for externships, and created an Engineering Explorers Post. Education: BS Civil Engineering, Lawrence Technological University | Executive MBA, University of Florida Sharareh Kermanshachi Assistant Professor and Director of the Resilient Infrastructure and Sustainable Environment (RISE) Lab University of Texas at Arlington Arlington, Texas Dr. Kermanshachi has received several prestigious national and regional awards including the UESI Fellowship, ASCE Outstanding Reviewer, Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achieve- ment Award, ASCE Professional Service Award, ASCE Excellence in Civil Engineering Education (ExCEEd), OER Research Fellowship, and the Graduate Climate Award. Kerman- shachi was the only recipient of the 2018 Design Build Institute of America (DBIA) Distin- guished Leadership Award from the Faculty category. Kermanshachi’s areas of expertise are risk management, performance optimization, and post disaster reconstruction. Accomplishments: • Currently leading the RISE lab, which has more than a dozen Ph.D. and master’s students and teaches various graduate and undergraduate level courses in civil engineering. • Peer reviewed publications – over 326 citations. • Has published more than 80 books, scholarly articles, conference proceedings, and research reports and has conducted several national- and state-level research projects with a value of more than $2.3 million. Public/Professional Service: An extensive record as an advisor, organizer, and mentor. Education: Ph.D., Civil Engineering, Texas A&M University | MS, Civil Engineering, Mississippi State University | MBA, Eastern Mediterranean University | BS, Architectural Engineering, I.A. University of Tehran
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