As the outlook improves for construction in Texas and Louisiana, it's a perfect time to take a look at the young professionals who will lead the regional industry in coming years. Many of those honored by ENR Texas & Louisiana are already leaders in their companies and in their professions and communities.

In the Top 20 Under 40 competition, each of ENR's regional publications highlight the outstanding achievements of construction professionals under age 40 at the time of publication. More than 80 entries were submitted for individuals who work primarily in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas.

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ENR Texas and Louisiana's 2014 Top 20 Under 40
ENR Texas and Louisiana's 2012 Top 20 Under 40

Many of this year's honorees cited an early love of design or construction that brought them into the engineering and construction field. They credit supportive companies that provided a promising career path from the start. Some have worked for a single employer during their entire careers. Others followed parents and grandparents into the field and are key managers and contributors in family-run businesses.

Our selections were made by an expert jury of industry executives who considered each entrant based on career experience, industry leadership and community service, among other factors. Narrowing the field to just 20 was a challenge for the judges—the "hardest thing" he has ever done, said one.

For the 2013 program, our judges included Dennis E. Thompson, executive vice president of Manhattan Construction Co.; Brad Brown, president and CEO of construction association TEXO; Russell Hamley, president of Associated Builders & Contractors in Houston; and Jennifer Berthiaume, a geographic information systems analyst engineer for Arcadis. She is a previous recipient of the Top 20 Under 40 award.

Each of the Top 20 Under 40 achievers will be recognized during ENR Texas & Louisiana's Best Projects awards luncheon later this year. Read on to learn about the young professionals in the region who are among the next generation's best.



Jonathan Aldis
Designer has moved rapidly up the corporate ladder in a "cool niche."
39, Principal-in-Charge
SHW Group
Plano, Texas

Jonathan Aldis must have been inspired by his undergraduate experience at Texas A&M University to focus his now 17-year career at SHW Group in education design. He joined the firm right after earning his B.S. degree in environmental design, and was promoted to lead operations of its AE services group before age 30. At the time, he became the youngest person in SHW's history to be named a partner. Aldis transitioned to principal-in-charge in 2008, becoming the strategic voice in all client interactions.

"I've been doing just educational architecture for about 18 years now and a large part of that for me is that we do everything that supports education," Aldis says. "I see a chance to have an impact with work that directly influences children. I think this is a cool niche that I've found myself in." Aldis also is a board member and fundraiser for Pediplace, a primary-care clinic for uninsured children.



Edwin Amaya
Architect-CM reaches back to his native Colombia to help children
33, Architectural Designer
Oklahoma City, Okla.

Having started with engineer-contractor SAIC as a student intern in 2002, Edwin Amaya earned a full-time position a year later after graduating with honors in architecture from the University of Oklahoma. He has supplemented his skill as a LEED-accredited designer on multimillion-dollar projects for public and private clients with a master's degree in construction administration, also with honors and while working full-time.

Amaya was the architecture design leader for a $44-million, 95,000-sq-ft new building for the state of Oklahoma, a LEED silver facility, and for a $9.5-million, 47,000-sq-ft health sciences building at Rose State College in Oklahoma.

In addition, Amaya, a native of Colombia, is the founder and president of Smile Colombia Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that provides impoverished native children with academic and social support. Under his leadership, the group has improved access to education for more than 1,800 children.



Brian E. Anderson
Architect-entrepreneur has grown his firm to “shape people’s lives.”
37, Owner and Architect of Record
AGL Architecture & Interior Design
New Orleans, La.

Brian Anderson decided to start AGL Architecture on a whim ten years ago. What began as a small company focused on interior architecture has expanded into a full-size design firm that evolved into adaptive reuse and has now moved to ground-up new construction.

Anderson says his career has been incredibly reactive, as New Orleans rebounds from events that include Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill. Disasters like these that impacted the local economy "forced us to go out, see what other type of work was out there, and maybe step out of our comfort zone," he says. "That's kind of how we ended up expanding the company."

Serving as lead architect, Anderson oversees all architectural and interior design projects, about $10 million in construction annually. He also directly manages all phases of project development.

"I think the reason I've enjoyed being an architect so much is that you do get to shape people's lives with your work," he says