As New England’s design and construction firms continue to teem with work, the region’s young stars have more and more opportunities to show their stuff. And the skills are diverse among the 11 honorees of this year’s ENR New England Top Young Professionals competition.
Areas of expertise include building information modeling (BIM), construction management and structural engineering.
Kaplan Construction’s Nathan Peck is leveraging BIM, while Brent Vollenweider, an associate principal in Thornton Tomasetti’s Boston office, leads the structural engineer’s protective design practice.
Suffolk’s Rachel Parks is leading the structural team for what will be the tallest residential tower in Boston, at 742 ft.
In New Hampshire, Benjamin Martin, a technical leader in CHA’s highway and traffic operations, supervises more than 60 engineers from eight offices. Also in New Hampshire, Christopher Fournier, heads HEB Engineers’ structural group.
As a consultant at Burns & McDonnell in Connecticut, Jonathan Kadishson helps major utilities improve project management. Bradford Oneglia has expanded O&G Industries’ annual revenue from asphalt operations by 33%.
In Maine, Kelly Brewer built Tilson Technology Management’s largest and fastest-growing business unit—the telecom engineering division.
This year’s judges were Sindu Meier, senior associate at William Rawn Associates; Josh Kanner, founder and chief executive of the construction software startup Smartvid.io; and Paul Schuman, a senior project manager at Simpson Gumpertz & Heger.
Continue reading to learn more about this year’s class of Top Young Professionals.
First-gen college grad leads team
Director of Networking Engineering and Implementation
Tilson Technology Management Inc.
The daughter of a residential contractor, Brewer was the first in her family to graduate from college. She worked her way through college thanks to her jobs at Milton CAT construction equipment and Pike Industries. Brewer joined Tilson shortly after graduating in 2011. Despite having no prior telecommunications or technical experience, she quickly learned to manage utility pole attachment licensing for a $32.8-million fiber optic cable network project looping around Maine, Tilson says.
Currently, the 28-year-old oversees more than 100 employees across 15 offices from Maine to Los Angeles. She regularly works with teams in the field to analyze data, optimize internal processes and techniques and ensure products are in step with rapidly changing technology.
The working mother built what is now Tilson’s largest and fastest-growing business unit, the telecom engineering division. “She learned everything she needed to know about working in wireless and utility engineering and construction to keep her team safe, compliant and productive across many different state and local jurisdictions,” the company says.
Brewer leads a team full of engineers though she is not an engineer herself. In 2013, she was included in a video campaign to promote careers in computing and information technology in Maine.
Christoper R. Fournier
Upgrades technical services
Vice President - Lead Structural Engineer
HEB Engineers Inc.
North Conway, N.H.
In his 12 years at HEB Engineers, Fournier has risen from junior engineer to lead structural engineer. The 35-year-old has worked on the renovation and design of residential, commercial and public buildings as well as the rehabilitation and replacement of private and public bridges. Fournier has also provided expert witness testimony in several disputes.
Currently, he is responsible for ensuring the quality of technical services offered at HEB as well as managing the firm’s structural group and major projects, including the reconstruction of the Loon Mountain Bridge, which collapsed during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.
Fournier also currently serves as president of the Structural Engineers of New Hampshire. He helped found and chaired the organization’s younger members group. He has been an active member of the Structural Engineering Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers since receiving a young professional scholarship from the institute in 2013.
Fournier served as a volunteer ski instructor and coordinated the work of volunteers at the Laura Foundation, an organization that helps youngsters who have autism and epilepsy.
Improves project delivery
Burns & McDonnell
Straight out of college, Kadishson worked on construction of Israel’s first major natural gas distribution network. That helped him land a job designing and building four 50-MW concentrated solar power plants in Spain.
Returning stateside in 2013, Kadishson worked for another firm briefly before joining Burns & McDonnell. The 35-year-old runs a 25-member team focusing on internal capital projects valued at $2 billion. As a consultant for some of the largest utilities in the U.S., including Con Edison, Baltimore Gas & Electric and Iroquois Gas Transmission System, Kadishson helps clients “improve their project management and project controls,” according to B&M. He helped one utility’s struggling gas operations division improve on-time and on-budget project delivery by more than 90%. Before his involvement, the division delivered fewer than half its projects on time and on budget, according to B&M.
Kadishson helped another utility invest its limited resources in software to consolidate stranded data from the utility’s existing databases. B&M says, “That allowed the utility’s personnel to access and share information they already had—about budgets, forecasts and maintenance records—and generate automated reports to give decision makers actionable intelligence.”
Kadishson supports United Way, participates in Habitat for Humanity construction projects and has led his own project teams as volunteers, working with disadvantaged youth at Ronald McDonald House.
Intern rises to project executive
Senior Project Manager
Suffolk’s CEO John Fish selected Lucey to be his assistant after Lucey interned for the firm for two summers and participated in the career start program, which rotates recent grads through different departments during a two-year period.
With nine years of experience, the 32-year-old is one of three project executives supervising construction of the $1.3-billion Encore Boston Harbor casino in Everett, Mass. Previously, he was a project manager for the $473-million Millennium Tower/Burnham Building project in Boston, which was completed in July 2016.
The firm says Lucey encourages his team to think from “a big-picture perspective” through the use of 3D modeling, virtual reality and other technologies.
Lucey participates in several of the firm’s volunteer programs, including organizing and participating in playground cleanups, landscaping and maintaining urban food gardens as well as mentoring and tutoring Boston youth. He also led a company volunteer initiative where 75 employees built a playground for the Boys & Girls Club of Boston in Roxbury.
Solves construction issues
Virtual Construction Manager
The son of a tradesman, Lyons grew up learning about engineering and construction. Working with his dad at a mechanical, electrical and plumbing firm as a high school freshman taught him basic engineering principles and how to create CAD drawings. Never trained to use a particular process or tool, the 30-year-old is “naturally open to trying new ways of solving problems,” according to Structure Tone.
With a decade of experience, Lyons has progressed from modeling coordinator to virtual construction coordinator to virtual construction manager. He oversees the virtual construction process for projects totaling hundreds of millions of dollars and is involved in some of Structure Tone’s most complex projects, including the Biogen Idec laboratory renovation in Cambridge, Mass., and the Comcast Technology Center in Philadelphia.
Lyons is active in professional associations, including the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering, where he serves on the young professionals committee. He volunteers with Little Brothers of Boston, which matches volunteers with senior citizens in need of companionship. He also volunteers at a rescue shelter for homeless dogs.
Benjamin A. Martin
Manager drives efficiency, growth
Highway Group Technical Lead, Senior Engineer
CHA Consulting Inc.
Martin, 35, was elevated from project manager to section manager for CHA’s New England highway division in 2015 and assumed his current role a year later. He joined the firm in 2011 and now oversees a team of more than 60 multidisciplinary engineers in eight offices.
He cut his teeth in construction working at the New York State Dept. of Transportation in the mid-2000s. After becoming a project manager in the DOT’s high-speed rail division, he helped secure more than $150 million in federal high-speed rail grants.
Martin is known for his “people-driven approach,” according to CHA. The firm says he mentors younger staff and “consistently promotes professional growth, staff engagement and a strong collaborative environment.”
In 2015, he began leading CHA’s new transportation communities of practice group to provide internal learning seminars to “not only support individual growth at all levels, but foster an environment of collaboration and teamwork,” the firm says. He also led a session on alternative project delivery methods.
Martin is active in both Maine and New Hampshire chapters of the American Council of Engineering Companies, including ACEC of New Hampshire’s recently created emerging leaders committee. He also serves on the board of his local YMCA.
R. Bradford Oneglia
Drives sustainable asphalt business Vice President
O&G Industries Inc.
Oneglia has helped grow O&G’s annual revenue from asphalt operations by 33% during his 16 years with the company. He has also expanded the firm’s operations to include eight asphalt plants throughout western Connecticut.
The 38-year-old, whose father, Ray Oneglia, is the firm’s vice chairman, has bolstered the firm’s sustainability efforts by increasing the use of recycled asphalt products and upgrading the company’s asphalt plants to increase energy efficiency. He has also introduced new product designs that meet modern sustainability requirements, the firm says.
Several of Oneglia’s initiatives have also boosted product delivery and performance in paving operations, including software upgrades in the firm’s asphalt batching and ticketing systems. Those efforts have improved operational efficiency and reduced customer load times, the firm says.
Oneglia has also introduced technology that has improved safety at O&G facilities and on projects.
An active member of the asphalt production and paving sector at the local, state and national levels, Oneglia serves on boards, committees and in advisory positions for several asphalt trade groups. He is president of the Connecticut Asphalt & Aggregate Producers Association and on the board of the National Asphalt Pavement Association. Oneglia was recently inducted into the Moles, a national fraternal organization whose members are considered leaders or former leaders in heavy underground construction. He was also recently elected to the board of KidsPlay Children’s Museum in Torrington, Conn.
Architect takes BIM to next level
Senior Project Manager
Shortly after joining Suffolk’s virtual design and construction department as a manager in 2014, Parks was promoted to senior VDC manager. Currently, she is working as a senior project manager on the 742-ft-tall Four Seasons Hotel & Private Residences at One Dalton Street in Boston. Parks manages the structural team working on what will rank as the tallest residential tower in Boston when it is completed later this year.
When the team thought the belt truss, which resists lateral loads, could not be built as designed, Parks built a “precise virtual model of the critical component, which helped solve the problem,” says the firm. She has “taken modeling to the next level by incorporating and capturing the project’s data—building a dashboard teams can look at, identifying real costs and creating realistic budgets and schedules,” according to Suffolk.
A former furniture designer’s apprentice, Parks began her career at SOSH, an architect in Atlantic City, N.J., where she created 3D models and renderings. A few years later, she joined SOSH’s architectural design team and worked on projects for Hard Rock Entertainment, the Golden Nugget and Revel Casino while earning her architecture degree at Drexel University.
Parks is also involved in the community. She helped redesign the headquarters of the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston. She also started her own women’s network in the Boston area to inspire the next generation of women to join the construction industry.
Engineer heads firm
After a dozen years in the industry, Peck was promoted in 2014 to president of Kaplan Construction following a three-year management transition. Kaplan says its business volume tripled and the staff has doubled under Peck’s leadership. The 38-year-old was also recently selected for ENR’s national Top 20 Under 40 list.
Peck spent the first decade of his career at Turner Construction before joining Kaplan as a senior project manager. He has introduced several technologies into Kaplan’s workflow, including BIM. His colleagues nicknamed him “Switzerland” for his ability to “remain neutral while building company-wide consensus to move toward compromise and common goals.”
Peck’s leadership and collaborative style helped Peck implement and execute more efficient procedures and systems companywide, adds Kaplan.
Peck also serves on the Brookline Building Commission. He participates in the selection of design consultants and contract awards and helps oversee the town’s building program. He volunteers for several nonprofits, including the Brookline Community Foundation’s building committee, the Brookline Community Mental Health Center and the Brookline Teen Center, which offers after-school activities.
Engineer improves processes
Environmental Partners Group Inc.
Trahan cut his teeth at civil engineer Amory Engineers under the tutelage of Walter Amory, the consultant’s president, an acknowledged expert in water resources engineering in Massachusetts.
During the 39-year-old’s nine-year tenure at Amory, Trahan advanced to principal. Trahan, who has worked at EPG for his six years, has become a principal and was recently named to the firm’s five-person board.
EPG says Trahan has improved company processes and its strategic objectives. The firm also notes that he “consistently contributes to the financial well-being of the group” while managing more than 40 active projects. He also leads a team of 10 engineers.
Trahan manages projects that account for 25% of the firm’s annual revenue, including the design and construction of 120 miles of water main for an ongoing $136-million public water system project in Eastham, Mass.
Trahan also started an AutoCAD support group for younger staff and a student co-op partnership with Northeastern University. He serves on the board of the Plymouth County Water Works Association and was a founding member of the New England Water Works Association young professionals committee. Trahan also volunteers to give presentations on engineering projects to Northeastern University’s ASCE student chapter and mentors students on their senior design projects. He also serves on several committees in his hometown of Lakeville, Mass., including the finance, capital expenditures and highway superintendent search committees.
Brent G. Vollenweider
Forges strategic development
The 38-year-old Vollenweider leads talent acquisition in the firm’s Boston office and helps develop and implement strategic growth planning while leading the firm’s protective design practice.
Vollenweider has managed projects in high seismic zones around the globe during his 13 years at Thornton Tomasetti, including the federal parking garage in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Vollenweider also is managing the $207.6-million restoration of the historic Athens Chancery in Greece, originally designed by Walter Gropius. The scope of work includes seismic and security upgrades. One of several of his government assignments, the Chancery is set for completion in 2022.
Outside of his day job, Vollenweider organizes lectures and events for the Boston Society of Civil Engineers. He has also been a member of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s architectural engineering program advisory board for more than two years.
He also plans and evaluates conferences for the Architectural Engineering Institute and has taught structural engineering at colleges in New York and Boston, including at the Boston Architectural College.