Winners of the 2020 ENR Mountain States Top Young Professionals competition are presidents, architects, engineers, constructors, virtual design experts and project managers, but also people deeply committed to improving the industry and their communities.
All have demonstrated a mastery of new technologies and worked hard to mentor colleagues and others about better design and smart construction practices.
As in past years, the competition was rigorous. Companies or individuals were allowed to nominate more than one person, and individuals could nominate themselves. Nominees must be working full time in some aspect of the commercial construction industry in the Mountain States region, which includes Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Montana and North and South Dakota. Key criteria included achievement of or progress toward industry certifications, success in creating more efficient systems, designing new processes or managing landmark projects and volunteer work in the industry and within the community.
This year’s judges also are a diverse group. They are: David Brooke, operations manager, Hensel Phelps Construction Co.; Aurom Mahobian, department manager for terminals and pipelines, Burns & McDonnell; Justin Peterson, vice president of operations, McCarthy Building Cos.; and Landon Sherwood, preconstruction manager, Layton Construction.
The following pages contain profiles of the young leaders, describing their achievements. Congratulations to the class of 2020.
In addition to his role as a superintendent, Bair dedicates his time and talent to improving the construction industry. He graduated with a degree in construction management from Colorado State University, where he was president of the student chapter of the Associated General Contractors. He was also captain of CSU’s Heavy Civil Team for the Associated Schools of Construction competition.
As an alumnus, he has established an annual scholarship for construction management students, with a matching donation from Haselden each year. Bair stays in touch with scholarship recipients and helps with job placement after graduation. He is a guest lecturer at both CU and CSU and was a team leader for Haselden’s community makeover day to beautify Denver’s Globeville neighborhood.
Bair’s projects include the Chemistry and Biology buildings at CSU, which were featured at the DBIA national conference. The Biology building also won an ENR Mountain States 2018 Best Projects award, AGC Colorado’s 2017 Best Building Project Award of Merit and College Planning & Management’s Project of Distinction Award. He recently completed the UC Health Steadman Hawkins Clinic in Denver.
33, Project Manager
Beckstrand has dual degrees in construction management and architectural technology from Brigham Young University-Idaho and has spent his career working on complex health care projects across the Intermountain West. He is a familiar face on many of Layton’s key projects and has completed work at the existing Lone Peak and Mountain View hospitals as well as for the new 280,000-sq-ft Saint Alphonsus Medical Center in Nampa, Idaho.
Beckstrand also led the ENR award-winning Farmington Health Center project for the University of Utah. He is currently managing construction of a freestanding 88-bed hospital and 300-vehicle cast-in-place parking garage at the Idaho Falls Community Hospital.
Beckstrand’s son was born with heart issues, and his experiences as the parent of a patient at some of the facilities where he’s worked has inspired a careful attention to detail. He often stops to talk with patients or visit briefly with a parent to explain the work Layton is providing. Beckstrand also mentors teenage boys through a weekly program at his church.
38, Senior Project Manager
Berroteran has worked on some of the most geologically and geotechnically challenging projects in the country. They range from high-rises and industrial warehouses to bridges and other infrastructure. He provides geotechnical engineering in areas with high geological hazards, such as landslides and expansive soil conditions.
He also leads Langan’s soil-and-rock-structure interactions using the GTSNX Midas Finite Element platform, a program for geotechnical design and analysis in a wide range of applications, including landslides, rockfalls, deep and shallow foundations, seepage, excavations and large dynamic analysis.
He earned a bachelor’s degree from the Universidad Central de Venezuela in geological engineering and a master’s degree from Manhattan College in civil engineering with a geotechnical emphasis. He graduated summa cum laude from both schools.
Berroteran volunteers at the Colorado Avalanche Information Center and the Search and Rescue Team in Evergreen, Colo. He is pro-level certified with the American Institute for Avalanche Research and uses those skills, along with his engineering knowledge, to help with avalanche forecasting in the area.
32, Senior Technical Lead
West Fargo, N.D.
Bittner graduated with a master’s degree in transportation engineering from North Dakota State University and now helps to solve some of the country’s most challenging infrastructure needs. He has managed more than 60 engineering studies, led over 100 stakeholder meetings, worked with at least 30 different agencies and helped program more than $500 million worth of transportation improvements.
Early in his career, Bittner focused on innovative intersection design. More recently, he has shifted his focus to Smart City technology and has worked on six Smart City or automated vehicle projects in the past three years. Bittner’s primary contribution to the transportation sector is the development of innovative traffic-control designs and public involvement tactics to educate the public on new technology and improvements. He has developed a first-of-its-kind interchange design to reduce crashes and delays by 60% and used virtual reality to engage the public on a controversial and innovative redesign of a downtown area.
39, Senior Resident Project Representative
Cottonwood Heights, Utah
Fenton worked as a student intern at Stanley Consultants while earning a civil engineering degree at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
Fenton spent six years behind the desk as a GIS technician and roadway designer at Stanley and then worked outdoors during the summers, helping out in the lab and performing field testing and inspections.
Now Fenton oversees project design reviews for constructibility, and as a resident engineer, manages construction and supervises a staff of inspectors, lab technicians and office staff. He has served in both of those roles on several high-profile projects. He is currently assisting the Utah Dept. of Transportation on the $450-million Mountain View Corridor project in West Valley City.
On the SR-201 Frontage Road project, the site’s flat terrain, soft soils and lack of drainage had created challenges until Fenton found a solution using stabilization fabric, which saved $1 million on the overall budget.
Fenton has worked with youth at his church for more than 15 years and volunteers with many of the same boys each week as an assistant Boy Scout Master, organizing scouting activities, monthly camping and Habitat for Humanity workdays.
36, Project Manager
Lujan joined CTL|Thomp-son when he was a civil engineering student at the Colorado School of Mines. He performs preliminary and design-level geologic and geotechnical investigations and consultations as well as post-construction geotechnical engineering consultations. He has written more than 1,000 engineering reports for a variety of structures and has been the engineer of record on nearly 30 projects.
Lujan co-designed a first-of-its-kind passive dewatering system for three 13-story buildings and a below-grade parking garage at the Colorado Rockies’ McGregor Square project. The system eliminated the need for expensive pump and filter systems for groundwater, saving the client an estimated $200,000 per year throughout the life of the building.
He also oversaw ground-improvement techniques for contaminated landfill on the Central I-70 improvement project at Globeville Park in Denver. He is currently consulting on the six-story Denver Latino Cultural Arts Center project, located in the neighborhood where he grew up. It is funded in part by the Latin American Educational Foundation and the Denver Hispanic Coalition. Both organizations provided Lujan with college scholarship support, and he says he is pleased to give back to them through his work on the project.
38, Vice President
Kaan has 15 years of experience in structural design and project management, including sports, commercial, health care, government and public assembly projects. Before joining Thornton Tomasetti, he was an engineer for the U.S. Navy at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. He has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Colorado School of Mines and a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Kansas.
Kaan has been involved with the 30 Hudson Yards project in New York City, a 70-story tower built on top of a structured platform that spans the Hudson Yards Rail Yard. He managed design of the cantilevered observation deck on the 67th floor of the tower. He also has served as project manager for a data center in Colorado designed to withstand the largest anticipated earthquake in the region without loss of operation.
Kaan serves on the American Institute of Steel Construction Manuals Committee, a by-appointment-only committee that maintains AISC’s “Manual of Steel Construction,” the primary guide in the U.S. for designing steel structures.
35, Project Manager
FCI Constructors Inc.
Marone spent two summers building homes while pursuing an education in dentistry. The work inspired him to change paths and enroll in the construction management program at Colorado State University. Just 12 years later, he serves as construction director for a $655-million joint venture concourse expansion project at Denver International Airport, leading more than 100 employees on a megaproject that will span many years.
Working with the city and county of Denver requires a great deal of interaction with the subcontracting community to ensure equal opportunities for all businesses to participate in the project. Marone works with industry organizations such as the Hispanic Contractors of Colorado, U.S. Dept. of Transportation, NAACP, chambers of commerce, the Associated Builders and Contractors and the American Subcontractors Association of Colorado to develop relationships with small and minority-owned businesses interested in partnering with FCI.
Marone recently completed a term on the city of Fort Lupton Planning Commission, where he was involved with the development and planning of the city where he and his family live.
30, BIM Project Engineer
Martinez has a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Clemson University and a master’s degree in construction engineering management from the University of Colorado.
As a BIM project engineer, she brings people together to solve complex problems on high-profile projects such as UCHealth Longs Peak Hospital, Financial House (office building), the Larimer County Administration Building in Loveland and two prestigious projects on Colorado State University’s campus—the AZ Addition and the Global Food Innovation Center.
Martinez is immediate past chair of Haselden’s Lean-In Circle and takes numerous courses through Haselden University. A member of CU Denver’s Construction Engineering and Management Advisory Board, she works with students and faculty to help pave the way for symbiotic partnerships and mentorships that enhance professional development.
She also helps organize fundraising events for the Warren Village Young Leaders Group to help low-income, single-parent families make the journey from poverty to self-sufficiency. She participated in the community makeover cleanup of the Globeville neighborhood in Denver and is part of ECM’s fundraising team.
32, Transmission & Distribution Regional Global Practice Manager for Denver, Colorado and Pacific Northwest
Burns & McDonnell
Mayyak has worked on more than 100 electrical substation, transmission, distribution, telecommunication and gas pipeline projects for Burns & McDonnell. He and his team are executing more than $25 million in engineering services and more than $30 million in design-build projects per year. Mayyak has a master’s degree in electrical engineering and bachelor’s degrees in both electrical and mechanical engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. He is among the youngest leaders in the 7,000-person firm.
Mayyak’s projects include work for PacifiCorp, Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and Xcel Energy. He oversaw BPA’s first design-build engineering-procurement-construction project, and BPA continues to partner with Burns & McDonnell to deliver high-quality power solutions. He recently played a key role in executing a $23-million design-build project to help meet the community’s growing power needs by providing reliable power to a new technology-based, customer-owned data center.
Mayyak led implementation of the firm’s NextGen Relay Lab in Denver, which helps the team design and test new electric technologies. He also is helping to launch Burns & McDonnell’s international transmission and distribution operations.
35, Vice President
JE Dunn Construction
Mellmer’s passion for construction began when he worked as an electrical apprentice while studying construction management at the University of Minnesota. He launched his career as an intern for JE Dunn in Minneapolis and currently oversees the firm’s North Dakota office, which averages $80 million to $100 million in revenue per year.
Under Mellmer’s leadership, JE Dunn has constructed more than $500 million in projects, including more than 40 significant projects in higher education, K-12, retail, health care, government and the private sector. His group has now extended its reach and follows clients around the country to projects in Minnesota, South Dakota, Texas and Nevada.
When he moved to North Dakota during the oil boom, Mellmer was the first and only JE Dunn employee living in the state. Today, the operation has more than 50 employees working statewide at any given time, and some projects have had more than 150 people on site at a time.
JE Dunn is the managing consultant of the environmental, health, safety and security contract for the 1,600-acre XWA airport project in Williston, N.D., and the construction manager for the new Five Gate Terminal and Aircraft Firefighting, Rescue, Response, Snow Removal Project.
30, Corporate Training Manager
FCI Constructors Inc.
Influenced by her father, who remodeled houses and built birdhouses with her on the weekends, Oceguera ditched her pre-dental career path and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in construction management from Southern Illinois University.
As a field engineer, Oceguera worked on one of the largest projects in FCI’s history, a technically complex $40-million higher education facility dedicated to applied technology and engineering.
In her current role, she ensures the firm’s more than 400 employees have access to on-the-job standards training, safety and compliance classes and leadership seminars. She researches and develops programs that vary from teaching basic skills like Microsoft Word to the latest technological advances in BIM modeling, project management and documentation software.
Oceguera is involved with the Contractor’s Academy through the Hispanic Contractors of Colorado and is chair of the Associated Builders and Contractors Rocky Mountain Chapter Safety and Education committee.
She fosters puppies for animal rescue organizations, volunteers as a victim advocate and is involved with Team Rubicon, a national organization that provides relief to victims of large-scale natural disasters such as hurricanes and flooding.
37, Senior Bridge Engineer
Peyvandi began his career as a bridge engineer and has spent the last decade conducting research in advanced concrete materials, green nanocomposite infrastructural materials and structural design. At a time when the world’s infrastructure is deteriorating, his work is crucial for guiding policy makers and construction workers toward the implementation of durable, environmentally compatible materials.
Part of his work has led to the introduction of glass-enhanced concrete pavement with superior durability, impermeability and cost-effectiveness; novel microbial corrosion-resistant synthetic fiber-reinforced concrete; and demonstration of modified graphite nanoplatelet-enhanced concrete that is more resilient and has better structural characteristics than legacy formulations.
Peyvandi was an adjunct professor in the civil engineering department at Louisiana State University and a guest editor for an issue of the Journal of Advances in Mechanical Engineering on Application of Nanomaterial in Mechanical Engineering. He was named to 2018 Mass Transit Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 list and has been awarded the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute’s Daniel P. Jenny Research Fellowship as well as a 2013 Michigan State University S&S Engineering Dean fellowship. He also has published more than 30 peer-reviewed papers in industry journals.
29, Project Manager
While she was a student at California Polytechnic State University, Schulze completed two internships for PG&E. First, she was responsible for conducting equipment reliability and preventative maintenance testing within the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. In her second internship, she first experienced the world of energy efficiency when she performed energy audits and analysis for utility customers.
Schulze graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and went on to work as a project engineer for Eaton Corp. in Lakewood, Colo., where she continued her career in energy efficiency in the HVAC industry. She became a technical expert in existing building retro-commissioning, a process that methodically evaluates and tests existing building systems and infrastructure.
She earned her master’s degree in management from Colorado State University’s Global Campus while working full time and is one of only 26 in Dewberry’s 2,000-person firm to earn her PMP license. She has dual Australia-U.S. citizenship and spent part of 2019 working in Japan as a contractor for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Schulze volunteers for organizations that focus on encouraging young women to pursue their passion in STEM-related fields.
37, Operations Manager
Spight has benefited from strong mentorship his entire life, starting with his grandfather, who taught him the basics of carpentry. Spight played defensive end for Sonny Lubick, the much-loved coach of the Colorado State University Rams and says that many of the leadership skills he developed on the football field translate to his daily responsibilities at Swinerton.
He is the youngest member of the leadership team in Swinerton’s Colorado office of 120 people and the youngest operations manager in the 3,500-person company.
Spight has elevated Swinerton’s college-recruiting efforts, helping to operate an intern program that targets the country’s best construction management programs. Approximately 20 Colorado interns have transitioned to permanent employees since 2013. As a result of his leadership, Swinerton’s other 16 offices across the country have adopted similar programs.
Spight also is a past chair of AGC of Colorado’s Future Leaders Forum, a collaborative group that helps develop ethical, intelligent and effective future leaders.
Wendy Van Duyne
37, Project Manager/Associate
Van Duyne is a project manager and landscape architect at Stantec who focuses on master planning. She has led multi-disciplinary teams on a wide variety of projects, including parks and recreation master planning, trails development, campus master planning, industrial development and downtown revitalization.
She is known for her innovative approach to facilitating community engagement and meaningful stakeholder involvement.
She worked two part-time jobs while attending Kansas State University, including one at KSU’s plant pathology lab, where she conducted research about native plant diseases on the Konza Prairie, one of the last remaining native tall-grass prairie ecosystems. As an intern with the landscape architecture studio of Gould Evans, she worked on key streetscape and downtown revitalization projects and supported the firm’s public involvement.
Van Duyne received the platinum award from the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Centurion Program, a two-year immersive leadership development program, for the more than 120 service hours she worked throughout the metro area. She is passionate about the quality of life in rural communities and leads Stantec’s rural places initiative, a program dedicated to helping all communities thrive, regardless of size.
Tyler Van Eeckhaut
28, Project Manager
A graduate of Colorado State University, Van Eeckhaut is passionate about service and building stronger communities. He led construction of the 60,000-sq-ft Mission Ballroom in Denver’s RiNo neighborhood. He approached the project holistically, looking at not just its technical requirements but also at how it would be viewed by the community, how it would enhance the area’s music and cultural scene and how construction would affect the neighborhood. He led the project team in donating funds and supplies to a nearby elementary school. Team members also read to second graders at the school during their lunch period and provided 200 students with 12 books each.
Van Eeckhaut also has introduced new technologies that measurably reduce project budgets and timelines at Mortenson. For example, using continuous visualization tools to envision work plans and site logistics, he enhanced his team’s ability to predict the impact of design changes on the overall project budget and schedule, thus turning a long, complex task into a simple process that can be resolved in a day.
Wagoner graduated from Kansas State University with a master’s degree in architecture. She started a two-person firm, RAW design, with her husband and has worked for global architecture firms in The Hague and Mexico City. She is currently working at Gensler on regional mountain airports and recently completed an expansion of the Eagle County Regional Airport. Her other design experience includes hospitals, towers, education, adaptive reuse, restaurants and mixed-use developments.
Wagoner has a passion for intelligent and sustainable solutions and believes in the power of design to improve quality of life, from daily activities to global issues. She co-leads an internship program at Gensler with the University of Kansas and is vice chair of the Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program (CKLDP) with AIA Colorado. CKLDP is a competitive nine-month program that accepts 16 emerging professionals to collaborate, learn and develop as leaders in architecture. She views the commitment as a great opportunity to invest in the future of the profession by mentoring and training the next generation of leaders.
30, Stakeholder Interface Manager
Warner directs stakeholder and client relations and communications at Jacobs, where she manages external and internal communications for the firm’s North American nuclear business. She was an adviser for creation of the new Jacobs brand and messaging for the KeyW acquisition. She also is a member of the Joseph J. Jacobs Master Builder Award selection committee.
Warner serves a volunteer trainer for Conscious Inclusion, a program to educate Jacobs employees on unconscious biases and mitigation tactics. She also volunteers as a trainer for the Leading People Workshop, which equips new managers with skills and toolkits. She is a mental health champion, PRISM (LGBTI+) ally and a safety officer trained in first aid, AED and CPR for first responses.
A University of Denver graduate, she participates as an alumni member on DU’s Club Water Polo team. She has volunteered with the Outdoor Education Laboratory School at Mount Evans and tutors underserved youth in math and science through the Colorado Association of Black Professional Engineers and Scientists.
36, Project Manager, Senior Transportation Engineer
A summer youth camp at Michigan Technological University changed Zarzecki’s life, confirming for her that civil engineering would combine her passions for math, science and service to others. A graduate of Michigan Tech, she has managed dozens of public projects for municipal and state agencies, from the conceptual level through final design and construction, including public outreach.
As a utility coordination manager, Zarzecki provides traffic incident management support on the $350-million I-25 Gap project, which is adding a lane in both directions on a segment of the freeway between Colorado Springs and Denver. Safety issues have plagued the 18-mile stretch of roadway, and Zarzecki is working with first responders to understand the issues and how to mitigate them.
She was the technical lead in updating the Colorado Dept. of Transportation’s “2018 Roadway Design Guide Manual,” a resource used on all CDOT transportation projects. She is currently working with the city and county of Denver to upgrade traffic signals and change ramp geometry, including 26 intersections around the city.