April M. BarkasiApril M. Barkasi
Pottstown, Pa.
ENR 7/25-8/1/16 p. 67
Engineer is lauded for her good judgment and intelligent and efficient application of emerging technology.

Applying the appropriate level of engineering effort and resources to accomplish a task exemplifies efficiency and professionalism in the construction industry. But the service can be exceptional when emerging technology is employed in a highly creative fashion.

April M. Barkasi, president and CEO of Cedarville Engineering Group LLC, earns respect for those qualities—and a Newsmaker award—for the reputation she has built with her young firm and, specifically, for a 2016 project that was completed for the town of Coatsville, Pa., which she serves as city engineer.

Coatsville, population 13,100, is a Rust Belt town struggling to recover from the loss of manufacturing. It is classified by the state as “an environmental justice community,” which gives it access to cleanup and redevelopment funding. City manager Michael Trio describes it as a “pretty depressed” city. “We’re trying to come back,” he says.

One of the projects the town is working on involves creating a prospectus to attract a developer for “The Flats,” a brownfield tract that is littered with the debris of an old steel mill, hazardous waste and mounds of stockpiled fill. Since the site is nestled between a highway and rail lines, just gaining accessing for a survey requires multiple permissions and protective gear. “It could be a $40,000 effort to get a traditional survey,” Barkasi notes.

Her solution was to use “reality modeling,” which involved a drone, a camera, four perimeter ground-control points and Bentley’s new ContextCapture photo stitching and processing software to create a 3D topographic map of the tract in a few hours. “There’s parts of the property that are very difficult to access,” says Trio. “This technology makes it almost like having boots on the ground—without having boots on the ground.”

The modeling was done as a service to the city without compensation. “We are the city’s engineers,” Barkasi says. Now, for the northern part of the site, the city has a letter of interest for a hydroponic agricultural operation, and it is entertaining several informal proposals for the southern portion, although agreements have yet to be signed, she says.

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