The American Council of Engineering Cos. of Colorado (ACEC/CO) recently presented top engineering awards to outstanding Colorado engineers who have demonstrated exemplary leadership and commitment to advancing consulting engineering. The honorees are:

Karen Maestas, URS Corp., was honored as ACEC/CO ‘s 2014 Outstanding Woman in Engineering. The award recognizes an outstanding woman in a leadership position for professional achievements in the engineering profession who is also a visible role model for young engineers.

Maestas manages a complex portfolio of mine reclamation projects that has grown annually from $500,000 in 2007 to more than $8 million in 2013. The projects involve many state and federal requirements and a host of technical and implementation challenges. She leads a large, diverse technical team that provides a wide range of turnkey services for the multi-state mine sites.

Under her leadership, URS has been working with a university to test biological treatments for elevated sulfate levels present in acid rock drainage at a mine site.

Maestas’ team is also experimenting with spent brewer’s grain, ordinarily a waste product of beer brewing, as a carbon source, which is a promising “green” alternative for mine-water cleanup. She also promotes math and science education through speaking engagements to students at elementary schools and higher education classes.

“It is such an honor to be recognized as outstanding in my profession,” said Maestas. “Solving problems is something I love to do, and throughout my career, I have certainly dealt with many challenging situations. Being involved in successful environmental cleanups is one of the most gratifying parts of my job. It’s amazing to see technology in action.

“I’ve had great mentors over the years, both men and women. When I graduated from college more than 20 years ago, about one in five engineers was a woman and that has not really changed much in the last two decades. I encourage more women to pursue careers in engineering and science—it is great work that is challenging, interesting and rewarding,” she said.

Charles Keyes, recently retired from Martin/Martin Inc., received the council’s George Washington Award, given to an ACEC/CO member who has provided outstanding service to the community, attributed to the progress of Colorado and the advancement of the public image of the consulting engineering profession.

Throughout his 48 years of practice as a structural engineer, Keyes has combined interests in science, engineering, art and architecture. His projects can be found in 24 states, plus Canada, Mexico, France, Germany, Finland, Turkey, Taiwan, Korea, Thailand, China, Western Samoa, Iran, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Keyes is well known for the more than 50 long-span space frames, arches, precast cable and other special building systems projects he designed. His structural portfolio includes many local landmarks, including the DCPA complex, Colorado Convention Center, Coors Field, Denver Botanic Gardens projects, the Blue Bear, Denver’s Vietnam Memorial, RTD Station Art and the B-52 Static Display at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

In addition to civic involvement with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Historic Denver, Keyes taught engineering for two years at University of Denver and has frequently been a visiting presenter in architecture at University of Colorado/Boulder. His roles as a mentor and teacher have continuously placed consulting engineering in front of industry colleagues, students and clients.

Dan Phipps, Kennedy/Jenks Consultants, was honored as ACEC’s 2014 Young Professional in Engineering, which promotes the accomplishments of young engineers who are advancing the consulting engineering profession.

Phipps is known for his expertise in AutoCAD Civil 3D, a subject he taught as an adjunct faculty at Virginia Tech. Inspired to make a difference in the world, he created and manages a charity to provide water to Zoranger, Haiti. He will be honored at ACEC National’s fall conference in Waikoloa, Hawaii.