We are pleased to introduce this year’s Top 20 Under 40 winners. They are architects, engineers, constructors, planners and project managers, but also green gurus, virtual building technology experts and company presidents. The professional diversity of this year’s honorees is matched only by their desire to be leaders, mentors and pioneers of new and better ways of doing things.

As in past years, our annual competition was rigorous and thorough.

Related Links:

ENR Mountain States 2014 Top 20 Under 40
ENR Mountain States 2012 Top 20 Under 40

A panel of regional judges was asked to select 20 professionals under the age of 40 from the 60-plus nominees (the most ever), based on their contributions to the industry and their communities. Companies or individuals were allowed to nominate more than one person, and individuals could nominate themselves. Nominees must be working full time in the commercial construction industry in the Mountain States region, which includes Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah, and our extended reach for this year of Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas.

Judging criteria included achievement of/or progress toward industry certifications, including professional licensure or LEED Accredited Professional, and significant success in creating more efficient systems, designing new processes or managing landmark projects and volunteering in the community.

This year’s judges were: Chris Hipwell, president, ABC of Utah; Courtney Ryan, senior project development manager, Mortenson Construction; Kate Bechtholdt, solar division manager, Douglass Colony Group; Penn Owens, preconstruction manager, Layton Construction; Ryan Smith, professor, University of Utah; Brandon Daigle, project manager, MOA Architecture, and engineer Kelly Fearney.

The following winners will also be honored at our annual Best Projects events in Salt Lake City and Denver this October.

Jesse Allen
Designer's research transforms how architects visualize space
32, Architect
GSBS Architects
Salt Lake City

Jesse Allen integrates architecture and landscape architecture. He works with complicated building geometry and elaborate 3D analysis, modeling and design. Allen modeled the geometry for the dynamic atrium at the Natural History Museum of Utah and worked on the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building. He researches new software and technology to transform the way architects visualize and design space. "The professional value of an individual is becoming more about how he or she adapts and overcomes changes in technology, the economy, globalization, innovation and communication," Allen says.

The designer is currently secretary of the American Institute of Architects' Utah chapter and has served on its board since 2009. Allen also worked as the lead designer on a primary school and community center in a village outside Kigali, Rwanda. The school serves more than 350 children ages 3 to 5 who previously did not have a school within walking distance.

Avery Bang
Engineer seeks 'something bigger' in building bridges in poor nations
28, Executive Director
Bridges to Prosperity

Under Avery Bang's leadership, Bridges to Prosperity (B2P) has become a technically focused nonprofit providing safe bridges for tens of thousands of rural villagers in more than 15 countries on three continents. She is passionate about teaching others how to build low-cost, robust and sustainable footbridges. As a visiting lecturer at the University of Colorado-Boulder, she also is spreading that message to graduate engineering students in class and online. Bang has developed a comprehensive international safety training program for local workers that is on par with U.S. standards. It allows safe, productive bridge building for community members, students and other volunteer bridge builders.

Bang has also implemented a new strategic operations plan for B2P, developed links to industry donors to support a $1.5-million annual budget—up from $150,000. She also was founder and director of the University Program, which creates design-build opportunities for students. Bang has also pioneered development of a sophisticated Web-based B2P information portal that allows worldwide access to its training and technical resources. "It's a challenge to close the gap between being career-driven and our generational interest in 'something bigger,'" she says.

Celestia Carson
Started Utah Women in Architecture, now with 70 members
35, Senior Associate
VCBO Architecture
Salt Lake City

Celestia Carson has been a part of several high-profile projects in a range of sectors, from K-12 public education to health care. Most recently, she managed design for the $38-million Jeffrey R. Holland Centennial Commons building at Dixie State College in St. George, Utah, which opened last year. Carson has worked on green education projects at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, and at Granite Technical Institute in Salt Lake City. She was also part of the design team on the award- winning LEED-Platinum Meldrum Science Center at Westminster College in Salt Lake City.

"Between frenetic schedules and tight budgets, it can be a challenge to maintain a focus on the simple goal of providing clean, well-designed architecture that is functional, beautiful and inspiring to its users," Carson says.

Concerned that many women were leaving the architecture field in the state, last year Carson founded Utah Women in Architecture, a Salt Lake City-based organization that mentors and advocates for women architects. The group had 70 members within its first month of organization, according to a local business magazine that recognized her efforts. It says she is now seeking nonprofit status for the group.

Brett Dolan
Manager boosts professional skills and diversity of contractor's staff
39, Director of Human Resources
PCL Construction Enterprises Inc.

Brett Dolan leads human resources for all of PCL's U.S. operations, including its commercial building, civil infrastructure and heavy industrial divisions that operate out of the contractor's 20 district and satellite offices.

During his career at the construction firm, he has managed relocation and immigration programs as well as generated demographic data for government compliance.

He implemented a decentralized human resources and professional development model and hired more than 100 new employees to support three PCL offices in the Seattle area.

Dolan has also been the catalyst for programs to recruit more women into the industry and create a more diverse and inclusive work environment. He also has found time to volunteer with numerous local charity groups, including Habitat for Humanity.

"Many young professionals in our industry struggle between wanting to advance their careers rapidly with the reality that it takes time to completely learn all you need to know to be successful," Dolan points out. "Ultimately, effective communication with their supervisors is helpful, as is understanding the differences in a cross-generational work force."