Abbie Liel
College professor researches disaster-resistant structures


38, Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering
University of Colorado
Boulder, Colo.

Abbie Liel teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on the theory and practical applications of structural design for hazard-resistant structures. Her work explores new designs to improve community safety, sustainability and resilience, with statistics-based simulations to predict risks for structures during earthquakes and storms. Liel has received 19 research grants totaling more than $2 million in funding and advised over 50 students on research projects.

"The design and construction industry has grown substantially in diversity in recent years," Liel says. "This diversity offers a lot of excitement and new opportunities but also additional challenges in how we design and build projects and how we relate to each other in this process."

Kristen Liggett
Designer pushes use of virtual transportation modeling


27, Civil Engineer
Michael Baker International
Lakewood, Colo.

Still in her 20s, Kristen Liggett has already designed both airports and major highways. Her transportation portfolio includes roadway geometry, grading, stormwater drainage systems, retaining walls and bikeways. Her aviation experience involves runway, signing plan and pavement marking designs; runway obstructions; and construction administration services. Among her larger projects: Cleveland Hopkins Airport's 2nd Floor Extension and roadway modeling on Phase 2 of Denver's U.S. 36 Design-Build project. At Michael Baker, Liggett oversees five to 10 projects simultaneously in addition to coordinating subconsultants.

"It can be a challenge to find the confidence to believe in my designs and my knowledge, especially when faced with more experienced individuals who sometimes disagree with me," Liggett says.

Porter McDonough
Experienced project manager embraces jobsite innovations


38, Senior Project Manager
Layton Construction
Sandy, Utah

Construction has been part of Porter McDonough's life since he was a kid. He learned how to read blueprints over lunch with his dad, a contractor. McDonough joined Layton Construction in 1999 after interning with the firm and has worked there for the past 15 years, overseeing detention, municipal, health care and infrastructure projects.

His notable projects include the $106-million University Hospital Expansion at University of Utah, the $59-million U of U South Jordan Health Center and, currently, a $100-million infrastructure upgrade at the U of U, replacing outdated electrical substations, transformers, switches and cabling throughout campus.

"Innovation in design requires innovation in construction management," he says. "There needs to be full integration of design and construction to meet the demands of complex buildings."

Away from the job, McDonough, a former Eagle Scout, continues his seven years of service as a scoutmaster, leading his troop in recreational activities.