Included within ENR Texas & Louisiana’s 2022 class of Top Young Professionals are architects, engineers, project managers and entrepreneurs based in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma or Texas.
Competition continued to be fierce this year, with nominees from across the AEC community. Companies could nominate multiple people, and individuals could also nominate themselves.
To be eligible, nominees must be working full time in some aspect of the commercial construction industry in the Texas & Louisiana region, and entrants must be 40 or under as of Jan. 1, 2022.
Among the key selection criteria are an individual’s professional achievements, such as acquiring or progressing toward industry certifications, success in creating more efficient systems, designing new processes or managing landmark projects, seeking innovative approaches to their work, both within and away from the office, as well as a steadfast dedication to giving back through volunteer work across the industry and within their own communities.
Special thanks go out to this year’s team of industry judges: Blake Axen, project manager and associate, BGE Inc.; Vivek Chikyala, managing owner, Kenall Geo; Jing Johnson, president, Prism Renderings; Tim Pach, project manager, Stanley Consultants; and Silky Wong, lead civil/structural engineer – technical expertise and support, Dow.
Winners from each of ENR’s 10 regions are automatically sent forward for consideration in ENR’s National Top 20 Under 40, which represents all parts of the construction industry from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
Two winners from ENR Texas & Louisiana were named to the 2022 national class: Tupac de la Cruz, founder and operations manager at Roofing Solutions, and Bobby Youngblood II, director of engineering at PCL Industrial Construction Co. Both will be honored at ENR’s second annual Top Young Professionals Conference in Tempe, Ariz., Feb. 23-25.
Read on to learn more about the 2022 class of ENR Texas & Louisiana’s Top Young Professionals and how they’ve had an impact on the industry and their communities. Congratulations to this year’s winners.
34, Deputy Practice Leader - Water/Reuse Treatment
Plummer Associates Inc.
Boyd earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in environmental engineering from the University of Central Florida. His graduate research work focused on the optimization of membrane processes for drinking water treatment, which is a passion that continues to drive his career today.
While at Plummer, Boyd has contributed to water projects across Texas. He was a design engineer on a 15-million-gallon-per-day membrane pretreatment facility in Abilene and on a direct potable reuse facility, also in Abilene, that provides advanced treatment of municipal wastewater effluent.
In addition, Boyd was lead engineer on a direct potable reuse pilot study in San Angelo. At the moment, Boyd is leading a 90-MGD sedimentation basin retrofit in Fort Worth as well as the design and construction of a new 8-MGD taste and odor treatment facility for the city of Weatherford.
Boyd has published more than 20 articles in academic journals, industry publications and conference proceedings and serves as a technical peer reviewer for the Journal of Membrane Science and the Journal of Desalination and Water Treatment.
He is participating in Plummer’s inaugural leadership training class and enjoys giving back to the industry by volunteering with organizations that raise funds to provide clean drinking water to communities in need.
35, Senior Vice President
Pape-Dawson Engineers Inc.
Representing the third generation of Dawson family leadership, Taylor Dawson’s career began as an intern at Pape-Dawson during high school and college. He joined the firm full time after graduating from Texas A&M. He now serves as senior vice president of land development, overseeing multiple design teams that operate in several Texas markets.
During his time at Pape-Dawson, he has designed and managed many significant San Antonio land development projects, including the Rackspace Corporate Office; the Westover Hills 30-acre commercial development at Highway 151/Potranco; Cornerstone Christian school; and several H-E-B shopping centers, Corner Store developments and Gold’s Gym sites.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dawson implemented PD Flex, a program that provides employees the opportunity to work from home up to two days per week. Dawson also developed new paid time off and maternity/paternity leave policies. In addition, he established the PD Connect mentorship program, which is focused on bringing Pape-Dawson employees together and training future company leaders.
Dawson is a board member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. He serves as the Urban Land Institute’s Mobility Local Member Council Chair, leading a group of ULI members passionate about solving some of the city’s transportation challenges.
Tupac de la Cruz
39, Founder and Operations Manager
At age 16, de la Cruz made the trip from Costa Rica to the U.S. to pursue a degree in business administration at Louisiana State University. He was just 21 when he became the owner of Roofing Solutions. Since then, the firm has become one of the fastest-growing and largest roofing contractors in the country, with annual revenue exceeding $50 million and with offices across the U.S. and in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Roofing Solutions is one of the first roofing contractors in the U.S. to perform all its shop drawings using BIM 3D modeling, an initiative championed by de la Cruz.
He has also served as one of the youngest members of the board of directors for the National Roofing Contractors Association, helping to translate their technical and educational content into Spanish—a process that has opened doors to the Spanish-speaking community, which comprises about 80% of the roofing workforce in the U.S., or approximately 400,000 people.
Roofing Solutions donates materials and labor to Habitat for Humanity; provides volunteer assistance for the Baton Rouge Children’s Advocacy Center; and has provided free roof repairs, maintenance and inspections for three Ronald McDonald House homes.
“I believe, as architects and creative thinkers, we have the ability and responsibility to usher in healing and restoration to the world around us.”
—Southern Ellis, 35, Vice President. Architect & Senior Medical Planner, HKS Inc.
35, Vice President, Architect and Senior Medical Planner
Ellis is a passionate leader whose design projects have created an impact both locally and globally. His thesis project, the Songambele Hospital, was designed with and for the community of Nkololo, Tanzania, and now serves as a catalyst for health, empowerment and job creation within the rural village.
A Texas A&M graduate with a master’s degree in architecture, Ellis entered HKS as the firm’s 2011 HKS health fellow, where he continued to pursue his passion for bringing health care to impoverished and developing regions. His fellowship research, which involved documenting hospital conditions throughout urban and rural China, served as a guide for the firm as it sought to understand the role design could play in improving health care.
Now vice president, Ellis is a senior medical planner for health projects. He shows young people the power of health design through the graduate architecture studio he teaches at the University of Texas, Arlington. For the last six years, the studio has introduced students to health care design and served as an incubator for projects around the world.
Ellis is the youngest board member of the AIA Academy of Architecture for Health and also serves on the AIA Government Advocacy Committee. He was one of the lead medical planners on the 500,000-sq-ft Parkland Outpatient Clinic in Dallas, which is part of the safety-net hospital for Dallas County.
40, Senior Planning Manager
As the transportation planning team lead in AECOM’s Houston office, Guillot manages the engineers and planners who focus on projects ranging from corridor planning and access management to schematic design and public involvement activities.
Guillot arrived in Houston in 2011 with transportation planning experience but no connection to the local market. She credits her involvement in the Women’s Transportation Seminar with helping her become part of the Houston transportation community, and she currently serves as president of the Houston chapter. She also serves on the Houston Engineering Week Committee and has been an active member of the Louisiana State University Industrial Engineering Alumni Board since 2009. She volunteers for STEM and STEAM events in the Houston region and has served as a judge for the Science Engineering Fair of Houston.
Guillot’s work has included serving as project manager for corridor studies on four interstates with the Tennessee Dept. of Transportation, valued at $1.2 million. She was project manager for a successful project with the Texas Dept. of Transportation for a planning and environmental linkages study on I-45 in Houston valued at $6.6 million. She continues to be an integral task lead on TxDOT pursuits.
39, Principal, Project Manager
Walter P Moore
Kueht has spent her entire engineering career at Walter P Moore managing complex structural projects in a variety of markets, including sports, education and cultural facilities. She has served as project manager on high-profile projects including Churchill Downs, Houston Botanic Garden, the Stephen F. Austin Basketball Practice Facility and multiple renovations at Minute Maid Park, Texas A&M University and the University of Houston.
Kueht is co-leader of the contractor’s project management committee, which provides ongoing project management training and development. She has co-chaired the sustainable design community of practice for the past seven years and is an annual presenter at FastStart—a seminar for new structural engineering hires.
A founding member of the Houston Architecture Construction and Engineering (ACE) mentor after-school program for high school students, she is focused on engaging students about the architecture, construction and engineering industry. Most recently, Kueht piloted the firm’s Passion Behind Design webinar series with ACE, enabling students to hear from professionals within the industry during the pandemic.
Kueht returns to her alma mater Texas A&M each semester to teach the introduction to structural engineering class. After one of these classes, a student introduced himself and said he chose civil engineering based on one of Kueht’s high school ACE mentor presentations.
“I hope to continue to champion K-12 STEM outreach to provide the advantages I had as the child of two engineers to the next generation. This is important because exposure and awareness of the profession early on are the best ways to recruit and sustain the workforce.”
—Sarah McEwen, 30, Water Resource Manager, AECOM
30, Water Resource Manager
Certified floodplain manager McEwen serves as one of AECOM’s project managers for the Louisiana Office of Community Development’s Louisiana Watershed Initiative. She facilitates involvement of agencies and consultants with the program, developing workflows to resolve coordination of submittals and overseeing program progress with reports to the Watershed Council.
She has also served as the deputy lead of a quality control team in charge of several hundred miles of natural gas pipeline construction and supports the program management team for the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion, Barataria Basin, Louisiana. This project will reconnect the river to the influence area, divert sediment, nutrients and fresh water to build new land, maintain existing marshes and increase habitat resiliency against sea level rise and storm events.
A Mississippi State University alumna, McEwen considers her greatest achievement to be her work with local engineering societies to provide STEM kits and packets for the Jackson Public Schools. She helps develop eight monthly packets, videos and physical kits that are distributed to schools to promote the engineering profession to the next generation.
“I try to think of each project as an opportunity to learn, grow and develop new relationships with intention and kindness. Thoughts become words, words become actions, actions become character and character is everything.”
—Paula Monaco, 31, Project Manager and NW Wastewater Interim Team Lead, Plummer Associates Inc.
31, Project Manager and NW Wastewater Interim Team Lead
Plummer Associates Inc.
Monaco became involved in the water industry as a student at Texas Tech University. She held a leadership role in the student chapter of the Water Environment Association of Texas (WEAT) and was introduced to the WEAT Student Design Competition Committee and has served as its chair since 2019. She joined Plummer after earning her doctorate in civil engineering from Texas Tech and now supervises multiple engineers-in-training on projects spanning the Texas and Colorado region.
Monaco was one of 55 candidates selected for the Water Environment Federation’s 2020 Water Leadership Institute Program. She currently serves on the 2021 WEF WLI Steering Committee and mentors the final project teams in the current program.
In 2019, Monaco was selected as the WEAT Municipal Resource Recovery Design Committee’s Eckenfelder Lecture Series Chair, which is focused on gathering industry professionals, academicians and students to discuss emerging trends and technologies of the water industry. She was part of the detailed design team for the expansion of the Round Rock Brushy Creek Wastewater Treatment plant to 30 million gallons per day. This $100-million project is one of Plummer’s largest wastewater treatment plant design projects.
36, Market Development, Senior Structural Steel Specialist
American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC)
Morales graduated cum laude from Texas A&M University and was the first in his family to attend college. Originally from Brazil, he speaks English, Spanish, French, Italian and some Arabic. Morales teaches evening ESL classes to refugees, some of whom have left AEC careers in their home countries and are navigating reentry logistics in the U.S.
Morales began his career practicing residential and commercial architecture, but his interest in marrying architecture with construction led him to work in steel design as a project engineer for Kiewit, where he delivered complex, system-critical projects for NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
In his first year with the American Institute of Steel Construction, Morales was selected to serve on the North American Steel Construction Conference Planning Committee to help develop the Architect’s Conference and was also tapped to lead and develop AISC’s Forge Prize, a national design competition established to give a voice and platform to emerging architects.
In 2019, Morales launched Deployable Communities, a program that leverages the skill set and knowledge of the AEC and steel industry to launch an intermediary housing model aimed at replacing homeless encampments for those undergoing a search for permanent, affordable housing.
“Future challenges I see will be managing infrastructure and natural resources as population continues to grow. Use of technology will be a primary driver for many years.”
—Angel Rivera, 41, Project Manager, Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson Inc. (JMT)
41, Project Manager
Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson Inc. (JMT)
Round Rock, Texas
Rivera has 17 years of experience in program, project and procurement management for public and private capital improvement projects. A graduate of the University of Puerto Rico, he launched his career working on engineering projects ranging from technology and infrastructure to mixed-use developments and health care facilities. While completing a master’s degree in the engineering program at Vermont’s Norwich University, he also served as caregiver for his spouse and daughter with health complications.
In Texas, Rivera has provided support as a TxDOT consultant for the procurement of design-build projects, associated procedures, executive reporting, protocols, legislation, industry guidelines, policy papers, presentations and overall programmatic documents related to the $25-billion alternative delivery projects portfolio. Today, he serves as JMT’s general engineering consultant to provide professional services for the Mobility35 Program and an approximately $7-billion portfolio.
Rivera mentors emerging civil engineering graduates at the University of Texas at Austin, which is an opportunity that allows him to engage with students and provide guidance that he wished he had received. He was recently awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award by JMT for his leadership and client service approach and for his support and mentorship to others.
“Hurricane Katrina destroyed my hometown one week after I started college. Over the past 16 years, protecting and restoring coastal communities has not been just a job, it’s a passion for the survival of these communities and their way of life.”
—Erin Rooney, 34, Coastal Project Manager, HDR Engineering Inc.
34, Coastal Project Manager
HDR Engineering Inc. (HDR)
Rooney’s passion for the coast began when she volunteered for a summer wetlands experience program in 2005. Two months later, Hurricane Katrina destroyed her hometown of Chalmette, La.—just one week after she started college. Since then, she has a mission to protect and restore the coasts of Louisiana and many other communities.
Designing and managing projects in the coastal environment is challenging due to continually changing elevations, shoreline erosion, dynamic wave forces and sensitive and diverse habitats within the estuarine environment. As a professional engineer and certified floodplain manager, Rooney has tackled these challenges while leading teams on several projects. She also shares her technical expertise with the industry through presentations and publications on topics such as shorelines, breakwaters, marsh creation, mitigation banking and numerical modeling.
Rooney co-chairs HDR’s coastal practice group, bringing together employees in coastal-related fields from across the country to share lessons learned and best practices. She also participates in programs to develop current and future industry professionals and advance their collective knowledge of the coastal industry. She assists younger staff in submitting conference abstracts to share their experiences.
Rooney was named 2020 ASCE New Orleans Branch Outstanding Young Civil Engineer and serves as the group’s vice president.
34, Project Manager
Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam Inc.
Roshani’s engineering background includes public service, research and teaching.
He has a master’s degree in road and transportation engineering from the University of Guilan in Iran and a PhD in civil engineering from the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). He also has held an academic position as a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Transportation Research at the University of Texas at Austin.
At LAN, Roshani has managed more than 50 projects and is responsible for pavement design, pavement preservation and rehabilitation, and pavement management projects for municipal entities. Prior to this, he led the city’s asset management group as a project manager for the city of San Antonio’s public works department.
Over the past 12 years, Roshani’s research has focused on improving the capability of roadway materials to resist damage from traffic and the environment as well as harvesting unused ambient roadway energy. His work has directly contributed to the understanding of the interactions involving warm-mix asphalt and recycled asphalt pavement.
Roshani teaches engineering courses at UTSA and also provides webinars related to pavement engineering for industries and public entities across the country.
40, Innovation Manager, Bechtel Energy
Thoms-Knox builds high-performing, outcome-oriented teams. Prior to joining Bechtel Energy, she spent 10 years in executive leadership roles at Chicago Bridge & Iron, most recently as senior vice president and chief innovation officer developing new businesses, markets and service models.
She leads the digital effort at Bechtel Energy, helping customers manage and operate their facilities in a cost- and energy-efficient manner. She works in partnership with software providers and clients to enable integration, visualization, analytics and the handover of intelligent digital assets.
Bechtel is committed to helping its customers on their path to a net-zero energy future and is a sponsor of Greentown Labs, North America’s largest climate tech incubator. Knox championed the engagement with Greentown and leads the management committee that is advancing Bechtel’s goals to source or jointly develop decarbonization solutions that meet the firm’s and its clients’ sustainability goals. She is also part of the leadership team advancing the commercialization of Crescendo, a novel refrigeration technology with broad market application.
Knox is a member of the United Way Women’s Initiative, the Women’s Energy Network and the National Charity League Texas Laurels chapter, where she chairs its Meals on Wheels program and volunteers with her teenage daughter.
38, Project Director
McCarthy Building Cos.
Wallace started his career with McCarthy as a project manager in the civil construction group working on a $26-million water/wastewater project for the city of Fort Worth. He went on to build the $35-million Hemphill Connector project, which required excavation below IH-30 and four Union Pacific Railroad lines and now provides connectivity between downtown Fort Worth and the city’s revitalized, historic Southside district.
As project director, Wallace is now expanding his civil construction experience into the renewable energy market, leading the construction of two solar projects south of the Dallas metroplex, an investment of nearly $150 million in new local energy infrastructure for Texas.
Prior to joining McCarthy, Wallace’s portfolio included large, high-profile civil construction projects, including the $220-million Red Line Track Renewal and $128-million Block 37 Tunnel projects in Chicago and the $504-million 554 Bridges in Kansas City, Mo.
Wallace is active in McCarthy’s Heart Hats—a national outreach program focused on giving back to the communities where employees live and work. He also participates in local environmental events, such as the Trinity River Trash Bash in Fort Worth and the Trinity River Conservancy cleanup in Dallas and leads outreach events in K-12 and higher education settings to teach students about careers in construction.
“I am proud to work in the construction industry because I get the chance to meet and connect with people from different backgrounds and learn from them. My role leading the efforts on how we connect with, empower and celebrate our craft workforce is especially exciting to me, and I’m so grateful to do it every day.”
—Angie Weyant, 38, Craft People Practices Leader, DPR Construction
38, Craft People Practices Leader
Weyant earned a bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering and a master’s in construction engineering project management from the University of Texas. She started at DPR as a project engineer managing seven smaller projects within the firm’s special services group, a role that helped her quickly learn internal processes and ignited in her a passion for developing others.
Since then, Weyant has been on a mission to change the way the construction industry views inclusivity and, specifically, how the unique abilities and diversity of craftsmen and craftswomen help DPR Construction build great things. In her role as national craft people practices leader, she focuses on understanding the needs of craftworkers and giving them a voice in the organization to ensure they have everything they need to stay connected and grow professionally.
Weyant has implemented initiatives such as paid time off for nonunion craft employees and an online quarantine training program that enables craftworkers to continue to get paid while on quarantine. She was also instrumental in creating the DPR Cares Program, which helps employees financially during a national disaster.
Weyant serves on the Girlstart National Board, focusing on teaching STEM in Austin’s public schools while helping girls build confidence and realize their potential.
35, Aviation Operations Manager
Northwest Arkansas is one of the country’s most rapidly growing regions, and much of the aviation infrastructure connecting the region to the U.S. and beyond can be attributed to White’s work behind the scenes. At just 34, White has cultivated a partnership with Northwest Arkansas National Airport, and under his leadership, Garver’s Fayetteville regional team has contributed to more than $100 million in regional aviation development and managed the design of $500 million in projects nationwide.
A University of Arkansas graduate, White was one of four Garver aviation professionals chosen to lead the charge in opening the region’s first ever aviation design center. Today it serves as a local hub of aviation expertise and employs 20 industry professionals, creating jobs for the Northwest Arkansas community. Since its launch, the center has worked on more than $1 billion in airfield improvements.
White speaks with University of Arkansas classes on topics including aviation and the importance of maintaining a work-life balance and has helped establish an annual $1,500 scholarship for engineering students. He has also rallied Garver employees to raise $10,000 for the Arkansas Children’s Hospital’s new pediatric center in Fayetteville, even shaving his head in exchange for a large donation.
37, Chief Innovation Officer
A graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas, Wynne co-founded Project Atlas, a project that began within Rogers-O’Brien (RO) and grew to become a stand-alone company. After just 20 months, it was acquired by multinational company Bluebeam, and Wynne spent time working there before returning to RO as its first chief innovation officer.
As CIO, Wynne leads the creation, development and implementation of products, processes and services to improve RO’s efficiency and competitive advantage. He has worked closely with Vela (now known as Autodesk 360 Field), Field Lens (purchased by WeWork) and others, helping to whiteboard integration methods and serving on customer advisory boards. He is a construction technology speaker at leading conferences such as ENR FutureTech, Digital Construction Week in the United Kingdom and the BIM Forum.
In 2012, Wynne spearheaded the implementation of digital documents in the field, saving RO more than 50,000 hours and $1.8 million per year. He was also instrumental in bringing drones to RO, making it one of the first construction firms to leverage the technology that is considered the industry norm today.
Wynne and his sister run the Yellow Rose Gala Foundation, a charity inspired by his mother’s fight with multiple sclerosis. It raises approximately $500,000 for MS research annually.
Jeffrey Chasdon Yates
36, Senior Manager, Marketing Communications, Central Region
A graduate of the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture, Yates has completed a 360-degree tour in the AEC industry—working as a marketing coordinator for KCCT Architects; marketing manager for Clark Construction’s Texas office and regional group in pursuing megaprojects; and aviation marketing manager at WSP USA. He is currently a senior manager for marketing and communications for WSP’s 15-state Central region. He serves as an ambassador for the firm’s inclusion and diversity council and Texas task force, helping raise awareness about the importance of inclusion and diversity in the industry.
An advocate for the power of public parks from an urban planning, social connectivity and ecological perspective, Yates volunteers for the Memorial Park Conservancy, which manages 1,100 acres in Houston. He co-chaired the organization’s Urban Wild young professionals group and its annual Bridge Bash fundraiser, helping raise $52,500 for the park. He also volunteers with events such as the Memorial Park Trail Map Replacement, Brunch Run 5Ks, Forest Health Day and park cleanups.
Yates will travel to East Africa in 2022 with nine others to construct a suspension bridge in a rural community with no infrastructure.
“I’m truly inspired by the quote, ‘We judge ourselves by intentions, but others judge us by our actions.’ In every circumstance do what you say you are going to do and challenge the process to achieve the results that you desire.”
—Bobby Youngblood II, 39, Director of Engineering, PCL Industrial Construction Co.
Bobby Youngblood II
39, Director of Engineering
PCL Industrial Construction Co.
An entrepreneur at heart, Youngblood started his first business when he was 18 years old, operating an auto detailing business that contracted with Toyota dealerships in Louisiana and Texas. He joined PCL in 2008 as a field engineer and has experience on multimillion-dollar industrial projects for clients that include ConocoPhillips, Motiva, Phillips66, Formosa and The Southern Co. Two of his highest-profile projects are the Ash Grove Cement Plant and the Motiva Crude Expansion project, the largest refinery in the country and one of the top 10 in the world.
Youngblood is a Louisiana State graduate and serves on the University of Houston Industrial Advisory Board, which provides guidance for college of technology programs. He has also partnered with the engineering department for a study on work package planning and curriculum development.
Youngblood is a member of the Association for the Capital Projects Engineering & Construction Community and Future Leaders program. He attended the PCL Peter Greene Leadership Course and has received both a Design Build Institute of America license and Design-Build Professional certification, enabling him to collaborate with multiple engineering firms to improve the design of facilities by utilizing innovative design-build concepts.
“My passion is mentoring young professionals to be great builders, while giving back to the community through the projects we build.”
—Chad Yount, 34, Area Manager, Sundt Construction
34, Area Manager
Originally from Palm Desert, Calif., Yount’s career with Sundt began as an intern working 40 hours a week while pursuing a degree from the University of Arizona. Today, he is involved in all tactical planning and key business decisions for the firm’s transportation group and has been involved in projects ranging from $25 million to $480 million in California, Arizona, Oregon and Texas.
Yount was senior project manager on one of Sundt’s largest and most technically challenging projects, the $227-million CMGC Sellwood Bridge in Portland, Ore., which transformed the existing 90-year-old truss bridge to serve as a shoofly for traffic during the construction of the new bridge. The project also included two perched box caissons in the middle of the Willamette River and erection of a million pounds of steel for the new bridge that was transported via barge from Vancouver, Wash.
As area manager for South/Central Texas, he leads teams on $800 million worth of projects while managing client relations and preconstruction efforts. In three years, Yount has been able to mentor and grow six project teams that have tripled the annual revenue of the region.
Yount orchestrates project tours and events promoting construction to K-12 students and helps educate them about potential careers in an industry that he loves.
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