For eight years now, ENR Southeast has been recognizing the region’s up-and-coming industry leaders with its Top Young Professionals competition. Readers may remember that this contest was previously called Top 20 Under 40, which is now the name for the nationwide program, which rolled out last fall via an ENR national cover story and collection of video interviews with the young leaders that can be viewed at ENR.com.
The national competition recognizing tomorrow’s leaders in the fields of construction and engineering reflects ENR’s effort to report on the industry’s road ahead, and the trends and people shaping that path. The 20 individuals recognized as part of that inaugural national Top 20 Under 40 class were selected from last year’s regional honorees.
In turn, the upcoming 2018 Top 20 Under 40 class will be chosen from this year’s regional winners.
ENR Southeast received more than 50 nominations for this year’s competition. An independent panel of judges then selected 20 young professionals who represent the “best-of-the-best” in their respective construction and design careers and who strive to give back to their companies, industry and communities.
This year’s judges included three former ENR Southeast honorees. Brian Allen, president of Cary, N.C.-based Precision Walls, was a member of the inaugural Southeast class. Two members of last year’s class pitched in: William Martin, president of Tower Engineering Professionals, Raleigh, and Melissa Pomales, water leader with Arcadis, based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Also assisting as a judge was Gary Kreisler, vice president of development with AccuTech Construction Inc., Apopka, Fla.
The outstanding group of nominees delivered yet another impressive class of emerging leaders who are collectively taking the industry into the future.
This year’s winners come from across the Southeast region, which includes the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Puerto Rico.
ENR Southeast congratulates this year’s Top Young Professionals and invites readers to learn about these up-and-coming leaders in the following pages.
ENR Southeast's 2017 Top Young Professionals
Helped lead Mercedes-Benz Stadium project
32, Project Director
While pursuing his major in building construction management at Purdue University, Baumgardt scored an internship with AECOM Hunt working on the Lucas Oil Stadium project in Indianapolis.
Upon graduating, Baumgardt joined the company full-time, with his first assignment serving as assistant project engineer on the Amway Center Arena project in Orlando.
Other successful stints followed, including work on Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and the Indiana State Fair Grounds Coliseum before he relocated to Atlanta to work on the Mercedes-Benz Stadium project, known for its unique retractable roof. Baumgardt began the project as a senior project manager but was promoted to project director. During the course of the stadium’s construction, Baumgardt was able to employ 70 recent graduates of the Westside Works program, a construction training program created to recruit people from underprivileged local neighborhoods.
“Tyler Baumgardt’s persistence, tenacity, dedication and leadership have made him a vital part of our organization.”
—JOSEPH ECHART, Project Executive, AECOM Hunt
Transportation engineer is proven team leader
36, Vice President, South Atlantic Regional Manager
Peachtree Corners, Ga.
Bhattacharya is another member of this year’s Top Young Professionals class who found a successful long-term career path via a college internship. In 2004, while pursuing his master’s at Georgia Tech, Bhattacharya joined Parsons as an engineering intern. Now with 13 years of transportation engineering experience, he has held several leadership positions at the firm.
After two years of managing the firm’s roads and highways division in Georgia, Bhattacharya was named regional manager for the South Atlantic Region of Parsons’ civil/structural division in 2016. A graduate of the Parsons Leadership Council, he takes a keen interest in developing teams and works to see that those teams reflect Parsons’ core value of diversity.
Fluor’s youngest operations director for power business
37, Project Director
With nearly 20 years’ experience in the power industry, Burgett has developed a broad skill set, including field engineering, project controls, business development and project management. Now the youngest director of operations in Fluor’s power business, Burgett currently leads one of the firm’s largest alliance contracts with a key client that has been in place for more than 30 years. In this role, he has responsibility for 1.25 million work hours covering six power generation stations, including 21 operating units that have a total generation capacity of more than 10,000 MW.
Burgett also serves as a trustee on multiple labor apprenticeship boards in Alabama, where he is able to influence the training and skills development that workers need to support today’s power projects. Last year, he was awarded the Fluor Corporate HSE Award of Excellence for his project leadership in promoting safety awareness and proactive employee engagement and for overcoming challenges to meet corporate goals and objectives.
Developing a safety planning application
36, Construction Area Manager
Coggins gained her first work experience in construction through the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps Program, where she reroofed buildings, performed trail work in national parks and supported the Red Cross’ efforts in Washington, D.C., after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Since then, Coggins has spent 12 years pioneering construction improvements through technology. She spent four years supporting Fluor construction projects across the globe by helping the firm implement automation tools to improve construction in the field.
Currently, she is serving as a construction area manager on a major pharmaceutical project while simultaneously implementing a first-of-its-kind comprehensive safety planning application across Fluor. Initially unveiled at the firm’s inaugural innovation catalyst event, the application, called Safety Pin, represents Coggins’ ideas for a safety planning application that monitors craft density, aids in emergency evacuations, improves communication among construction crews and supports life critical activity planning.
Young entrepreneur has diverse project experience
Sequoia Services LLC
At 29, Colangelo is one of the youngest members of this year’s Top Young Professionals class. As might be expected, Colangelo started his career early with an internship as a field engineer at 18 and, later, earned a master’s degree in construction administration. Along the way, he’s been afforded opportunities to work on such major projects as the World Trade Center reconstruction, Hurricane Sandy emergency response and Manhattan’s Second Avenue Subway.
Two years ago, Colangelo founded Sequoia Services LLC in Greensboro, N.C., a firm that provides specialty construction solutions for complex heavy construction projects for clients in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions. With roughly 45 employees, Sequoia Services has projects in three states.
Colangelo has also been leading an effort to treat and dispose of more than 200 million gallons of coal ash contact water at a coal ash pond.
Transportation management engineer is a national leader
36, Project Manager
Echeverri is on the front lines of managing the Southeast’s transportation systems. As project manager with Gannett Fleming in Miami, Echeverri manages intelligent transportation systems (ITS) and advanced traffic management systems (ATMS) and is currently managing an on-call, districtwide ITS contract for the Florida Dept. of Transportation’s District 6, which includes nearly 700 centerline miles, nearly 3,000 lane miles, 454 fixed bridges and 15 movable bridges. Her successful leadership has been recognized nationally with her selection as one of just 25 transportation professionals to participate in the Institute of Transportation Engineers’ 2018 LeadershipITE program. She also serves as co-chair of the Florida Transportation Planning Council.
Young engineer exudes contagious enthusiasm for her work
25, Project Engineer
Rodgers Builders Inc.
The youngest of this year’s Top Young Professionals class, Harwood was introduced to the construction industry at an early age. The daughter of a residential contractor, Harwood became involved with Habitat for Humanity as the result of a high-school project and later earned a civil engineering degree from North Carolina State University.
In her current position, Harwood has undertaken numerous responsibilities for Rodgers’ latest project with Davidson College, including serving as gatekeeper for all changes and updates to the construction drawings for the entire three-year contract. Harwood also tracked and submitted the firm’s Wall Academic Center project for LEED certification, which earned Gold status.
Since joining Rodgers three years ago, Harwood has served as a mentor in the firm’s summer internship program and is the 2018 chair for the Carolinas AGC’s Young Leaders Task Force.
“Kristen Harwood has a contagious enthusiasm and truly brings a passion to her work in our industry.”
—ERIC REICHARD, Chief Operations Officer, Rodgers Builders
Health care builder is a strong leader
39, Vice President, Division Manager
Brasfield & Gorrie
After joining Brasfield & Gorrie in 1999 as part of a co-op program while studying civil engineering at the University of Alabama, Hauser has since developed a deep résumé of more than 80 projects valued at nearly $745 million. Now overseeing all business development, preconstruction and project operation functions for the contractor’s medical division in Birmingham, Hauser has helped strengthen the firm’s position as a respected health care builder by developing strategic client relationships, expanding the company’s geographic footprint and leading award-winning projects.
He also provides leadership outside the company, having served for more than 14 years as an active board member of the Alabama chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, where he helped launch the chapter’s Young Professional Board and served as chairman. Hauser has also served on the University of Alabama Construction Engineering Founders Board.
“The ABC of Alabama would not be where it is today without Ed Hauser’s continual involvement and contribution of service.”
—JAY REED, President, ABC of Alabama
Respected professional is a community leader
32, Project Manager
While the industry was enduring the Great Recession, Hoffman had the opportunity to work with senior team members on a wide variety of complex projects early in his career, including large-scale sustainable developments, environmentally friendly infrastructure systems, master stormwater models and major theme park renovations.
Through those opportunities, Hoffman became well known—and highly regarded—by public review agencies throughout Central Florida. For the last four years, he has served on the Young Professionals Advisory Council, a group organized through the Orlando Economic Partnership to seek input from emerging professionals on issues affecting the region. Through his involvement in YPAC, Mayor Buddy Dyer named Hoffman to serve on the city’s nominating board, which recruits members to serve on multi-jurisdictional citizen volunteer boards.
Change in career path proved to be the right choice
34, Project Manager
After initially focusing on civil engineering, Joslyn’s internship with Suffolk Construction fostered a new career path into construction management. That switch has proven successful, as evidenced by Joslyn’s leadership of complex projects, including the multiple award-winning University of Miami Marine Technology and Life Sciences Seawater Complex. The 81,000-sq-ft marine life science center was built as a one-of-a-kind facility, featuring a 28,000-gallon 3D wind-wave-storm-surge simulator capable of producing Category 5 hurricane winds for coastal engineering.
Joslyn also served as a member of Suffolk’s sustainability group for five years and served as the overall national group chair in 2014 and 2015.
Bridge builder fosters connections
36, Operations Manager
PCL Civil Constructors Inc.
Linn specializes in building bridges, and not just the concrete and steel type. Wherever his work takes him, Linn hosts community outreach events to help ease the disruption major construction projects often cause.
While working on a four-bridge replacement project along Interstate 91 in Brattleboro, Vt., he participated in the local Big Brother/Big Sister program and coordinated PCL’s local United Way campaign. He also encouraged project team participation in fundraisers for local families and youth services.
Linn has expanded the use of building information modeling (BIM) on numerous transportation projects, including the 250-ft-tall Gilmerton Bridge in Chesapeake, Va. His familiarity with virtual construction software made it possible for the project team to safely perform critical crane picks required for steel erection. Linn’s use of the BIM technology earned him a speaking invitation at the software provider’s annual convention.
Broad skill set leads to diverse experience
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Mazzocchetti brings an international and multidisciplinary approach to her work at Thornton Tomasetti. Born in Italy, she has educational experience in both architecture and engineering—skills that have led to diverse project assignments in Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan.
Now based in Fort Lauderdale, Mazzocchetti has managed a variety of South Florida high-rise projects, including Miami’s 481,676-sq-ft Elysee condominium tower overlooking Biscayne Bay and the 41-story Galwan Hotel. Promoting communication and taking care of her engineering team is a top priority.
Mazzoccheti always strives to find time to help younger staff find innovative solutions to project challenges. She also strives to broaden her own skill set by taking courses on technical aspects of tall building design.
Young engineer seeks to help others
Biren Patel Engineering LLC
With only a 10-person staff, Patel is proving that a simplified approach can aid in supporting the engineering needs of the region’s major utility providers. Patel has adopted practices common to other industries—such as flexible work hours and environments as well as collaboration tools—to forge a highly motivated and productive team eager to serve the firm’s clients and each other.
Such responsiveness is particularly critical as utilities work to sustain their existing grids and tap the potential of utility-scale solar power generation.
An expert in lightning shielding, Patel has published guides and conducted training for substation engineers and offered numerous presentations to professional groups.
In addition to volunteering with the Kairos prison ministry program, Patel joined his wife, Misti, a physician, on a medical mission to Nepal to aid victims of human trafficking and sex slavery.
Professor researches ‘flash track’ construction
38, Assistant Professor
Georgia Institute of Technology
Pishdad has made numerous contributions to the construction industry, including her Construction Industry Institute-funded research on the successful delivery of “flash track” projects. The highly collaborative effort yielded three reports, a Flash Track Readiness Assessment Toolkit and a blueprint for an innovative project delivery model that optimizes stakeholder involvement and procurement.
Pishdad has since collaborated with transportation agencies in Georgia and Virginia to apply these refined flash track concepts to new projects. Using Georgia Tech as a “living laboratory,” she has researched strategies to maximize use of building information management beyond the construction phase.
A case study on BIM implementation in a cutting-edge research facility will help owners and project teams better plan for the deployment of the technology throughout a facility’s life cycle and serve as a teaching tool for students.
Sustainability professional has wide influence
34, Principal, Senior Engineer
Walter P Moore
Roberts leads the sustainable design community of practice for Walter P Moore’s entire structures group. Along with ensuring the use of sustainable design practices in all Atlanta projects, Roberts heads separate company working groups on internal life-cycle assessment and sustainable office operations, and regularly makes client presentations on sustainability. She has brought her sustainability knowledge to other areas of the community as a founding board member of the Lifecycle Building Center of Greater Atlanta, a nonprofit material reuse center. Roberts has also played a key role in the construction of new Atlanta structures, including serving as lead structural engineer for the National Center for Civil & Human Rights. She is currently overseeing the 1-million-sq-ft State Farm Park Center II office development in Atlanta’s perimeter business district.
“A team player, Kelly Roberts takes time to share her lessons learned and best practices within our office to constantly improve our profession.”
—BEN CHEPLAK, Engineer, Walter P Moore
Advocates for continuous learning at all levels
33, Senior Engineer
Education underscores all aspects of Russo’s career, from developing guidance to help cities acquaint themselves with express lane operational and management issues to making training and other professional development resources more accessible to colleagues.
As chair for the Institute of Transportation Engineers’ 2017 Florida Section conference, for example, Russo formulated a hands-on training track aimed at providing participants with a fundamental understanding of traffic signal design, timing and coordination.
Russo also serves as graduate development program coordinator for Atkins’ Orlando office, ensuring that the firm’s newest engineers continue to hone their technical and social skills as they transition from classroom to jobsite. They won’t be the only young professionals benefiting from Russo’s insights. This year, he joins a select group of ITE members tasked to identify, develop and engage leaders who will shape the future of transportation.
Screens utility-scale solar power systems
34, Senior Engineer
As more developers seek to take advantage of the state’s abundant sunshine for utility-scale solar power generation systems, Sahlstrom’s project screening process ensures that the new generation capacity will be safely and responsibly integrated into the local grid.
A commitment to learning and professional service has powered Sahlstrom’s career, beginning with her two graduate degrees, a professional engineer registration and other certifications.
She volunteers with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers at multiple levels, including serving on working groups charged with shaping future standards for the power and solar industry.
Additionally, Sahlstrom’s active involvement with the organization’s student chapter at Georgia Tech and Atlanta’s Power and Energy Society has helped attract young engineers and recent graduates to the power industry.
Leads contractor’s manufacturing/industrial market
39, Vice President, Group Manager
JE Dunn Construction
Over the past four years, Strength has helped JE Dunn Construction grow into a provider of building services to the Southeast’s manufacturing/industrial market. Drawing on his leadership and management skills, plus extensive experience across multiple project types, Strength has crafted and directed every step of an aggressive sector business development strategy that has yielded $100 million worth of successful projects and a backlog valued at twice that amount. In an industry where superior technical skills have traditionally prevailed, Strength’s attention to the softer people skills has sharpened his ability to connect with clients and build more productive relationships with vendors and trade partners. By encouraging his own team to hone their interpersonal skills as well, Strength has JE Dunn well positioned to succeed at assignments utilizing integrated project delivery and other collaboration-based approaches.
Takes firm’s aviation business to new heights
34, Vice President, Group Manager
JE Dunn Construction
Tassada has piloted JE Dunn Construction to new heights in the highly competitive aviation sector. Under her leadership, the firm has garnered nearly $200 million in contracted work at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport over the past five years and regularly contends for assignments across the Southeast and nationwide. Tassada’s strategic management skills are matched by her ability to foster productive collaborations. While mapping the strategy to raise her firm’s profile in aviation, she played a key role in creating a critical joint venture partnership that gained a reputation for successful project execution and customer service. Tassada’s commitment to expanding the participation of minority- and women-owned businesses benefits more than just JE Dunn’s projects. Through her workshops, classes and mentoring, she helps MWBEs develop industry skills that enhance both their competitiveness and project execution capabilities.
John ‘Nathan’ Yancey
Lifelong learner leads complex projects
34, Atlanta Project Leader
Hargrove Engineers + Constructors
Yancey has explored nearly every facet of chemical and process engineering, beginning with his days as an intern and student research assistant at the University of Alabama and now in his current role managing more than 100 engineers and designers at Hargrove’s Atlanta office.
Yancey’s technical and leadership acumen have paid off in a host of successful, complex projects. They range from providing owners’ engineering services for a $250-million cogeneration system to retrofitting an existing pilot plant to test a novel chemical production technology. Although Yancey’s skills and knowledge keep him in demand for project assignments, he is committed to mentoring colleagues and fostering an environment of innovation and collaborative problem-solving. A lifelong learner himself, Yancey regularly participates in technical and professional development programs that will further expand his reservoir of technical knowledge.
“John ‘Nathan’ Yancey has contributed to the success of Hargrove through his engineering capabilities, work ethic, leadership skills and can-do approach to every project he touches.”
—BRIAN RHOADES, Vice President of Operations, Hargrove Engineers + Constructors