Winners of the 2023 Mountain States Top Young Professionals competition are project managers, company presidents, interior designers, environmental engineers, researchers and communications professionals. They are deeply committed to improving not only their companies, but also the AEC industry and their communities.
Some began their careers with larger companies and then broke away to start their own firms; others have been promoted as promising leaders. All have demonstrated a mastery of new technologies and worked hard to teach their colleagues and other young professionals 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.
Selection criteria included achievement of or progress toward industry certifications, significant success in creating more efficient systems, designing new processes or managing landmark projects and consistent volunteer work across the industry and within their communities.
ENR Mountain States would like to thank this year’s judges: Daniel Jensen, bridge infrastructure BIM manager with Michael Baker International in Salt Lake City, and Katie Warner, executive adviser for strategy implementation at Jacobs in Denver.
The following pages contain profiles of the winners, describing their achievements and goals in a tribute to excellence, success, quality, family and community. Congratulations to the Top Young Professionals class of 2023.
Karthik Reddy Alugubelly
Concrete expert helps improve firm’s internal processes
29, Project Manager/Estimator II
Alugubelly joined the construction industry in 2016 as an entry-level concrete estimator at Sundt. His work ethic quickly stood out, and now, only a few years later, he’s managing projects he once estimated. He prioritizes safe working environments, believing they help advance positive culture changes in the overall organization. Alugubelly is credited with streamlining the firm’s estimation process by integrating 3D modeling and estimation software. He also volunteers on Sundt’s software review committee and is an active member of its lean committee, offering insight into concrete division processes and developing tracking and reporting sheets used by field, craft and administrative staff. As project manager, Alugubelly pursued additional education to improve his financial and management skills, achieving an MBA to add to his master’s degree in construction engineering from Arizona State University. He’s involved with the American Society for Concrete Contractors and offers his insight to other members to help them improve their processes. He also embraces community volunteer opportunities at Sundt, supporting St. Mary’s Food Bank, Packages from Home, Operation School Bell and other nonprofit organizations.
Experienced builder recognized for creative problem-solving
36, Operations Manager
Ashley moved to Denver to join E&K Drywall in 2013, bringing his building information modeling expertise to the $2-billion Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Aurora. This expertise was crucial to successfully supporting E&K’s contract on the project, which exceeded $30 million. The project solidified his interest in the industry, and its size and scope provided him with experience that helped him successfully transition to a senior management role at ICI in 2018. As operations manager, he leads a team of 10-12 employees while also assisting other groups within the company. His efforts are credited with helping the company reach $50 million in annual revenue. Among Ashley’s accomplishments are setting up a new system for consistent documentation throughout the company. He is also noted for his creative problem-solving and willingness to help mentor and develop other employees. He thrives on connecting field and operations teams and encouraging connections between the two to improve project outcomes. Ashley is active with the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry, serving as a board member from 2019 through 2020. Notable recent projects in Ashley’s résumé include the Pikes Peak Summit Complex as well as the recently completed Terra and Hydro buildings at Colorado State University’s campus at the National Western Center.
Water expert serves as key link with CDOT
39, Water Resources Group Leader
Carroll graduated with honors from Gonzaga University in 2006, earning a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering with a minor in business administration. He moved to Colorado in 2009 and in 2011 began working as a water resources engineer at a firm eventually acquired by RS&H. Since then, he’s developed a technical excellence in hydrologic evaluations, hydraulic analysis, storm sewer design, roadside drainage systems, major river hydraulics, bridge scour analysis, erosion control and permanent stormwater quality. Today, Carroll manages a team of 12 as the water resources group lead for RS&H’s Colorado operations. He is credited with helping develop the group into a leading water resources team for area highway and aviation projects. He served on the Colorado Dept. of Transportation’s technical advisory committee for a pilot program to perform pre-scoping two-dimensional hydraulic analyses. The project saved CDOT millions of dollars while helping the agency to prioritize capital improvements. He continues to serve as the firm’s client manager for CDOT. Among Carroll’s notable projects are the $500-million I-25 North Express Lanes, Johnstown to Fort Collins, for which he was voted RS&H’s 2020 Project Manager of the Year. He participates in the Women’s Transportation Seminar and Conference of Minority Transportation Officials, where he currently serves on the scholarship committee for the Colorado chapter.
“Maria [Chumbita] has a natural instinct to know the best approach and method to increase a person’s strengths while assisting them to turn weaknesses into new strengths.”
—Monet johnson, Vice President, Marketing, SME Industries
Maria E. Chumbita
Civil engineer manages new products offerings and business development in Spanish-speaking markets
39, Vice President of Engineering
Originally from Argentina, Chumbita graduated with honors with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina. She pursued a scholarship opportunity that led to her graduate degree in the U.S., a master’s in engineering from Trine University. After graduation and a job opportunity in Portland, Ore., she moved to Utah to join CoreBrace LLC. Today, Chumbita serves as vice president of engineering and director of sales for the firm and director of sales for the firm, a manufacturer of seismic energy dissipation devices known as Buckling Restrained Braces. She manages the company’s engineering department, including its development of new product offerings and oversees business development efforts in Spanish-speaking markets. Chumbita is a licensed professional engineer in multiple states. She holds executive certificates in global business management and in women’s leadership from Salt Lake City Community College and the University of Utah. For the past seven years, Chumbita has been involved with Internations, an organization with a focus on helping expatriates connect with each other and find a place in their new community. There, she mentors others in navigating the same challenges she encountered. Chumbita also volunteers with Rotary Club and Habitat for Humanity and sits on the Salt Lake County Arts and Culture advisory board.
“[Breann Coggins] has become a vice president at Method due to her successes, collaborative spirit and graceful approach to team leadership.”
—Tayler Buffi, Marketing Coordinator, Method Studio
Senior interior designer is a thoughtful mentor to junior staff and youth
34, Vice President and Senior Interior Designer
Coggins is the co-manager of Method Studio’s award-winning interior design team. She is also the youngest employee to be named vice president of the firm. Along with her studio management responsibilities, Coggins maintains a focus on developing higher education, multifamily housing, religious, high-end resort and hospitality markets. She also leads several projects as senior interior designer, working collaboratively with the architectural team to unify exterior and interior design. Among her award-winning projects are the Davis Technical College New Allied Health Building, the Axis Student Housing project and design for Method Studio’s own office. She is recognized as a thoughtful mentor, explaining BIM standards and design processes to help junior staff adhere to budgets and schedules. She also played a key part in helping develop the firm’s BIM standards and guidelines. She is part of the firm’s initiatives leadership group, helping make recommendations for firmwide improvements. She is currently studying for her NCIDQ license and recently completed the Utah Valley University Women’s leadership certificate program. Coggins spends time supporting the Girl Scouts of Utah and volunteering with her church’s youth group.
Industrial water engineer specializes in conservation projects
32, Industrial Water Engineer
Dartnell’s leadership abilities became apparent as an undergraduate at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she served as president of the Association of Environmental Engineers and Scientists. At GIT, she earned both her bachelor’s degree and master’s in environmental engineering summa cum laude. Since joining Arcadis in 2015, Dartnell’s work as an industrial water engineer on conservation projects has saved nearly 600 million gallons of water per year. She leads Arcadis’ industrial water community practice, a global thought leadership group comprised of over 200 industrial water practitioners, and is the business area manager for Arcadis’s global excellence center, a team of engineers based in the Philippines. This is in addition to working with her team of industrial water engineers in the U.S. She’s credited with developing a DEI strategy for her business area. Dartnell’s community involvement often involves her passion for improving watershed health and includes establishing Adopt-a-Stream programs and participating in STEM student programs. Dartnell is an active member of the Water Environment Federation and the Rocky Mountain Water Environment Association in Colorado. She has participated in several local and national organizations, both presenting at conferences and participating in local training opportunities.
Fire protection expert helps standardize complicated fire codes
35, Director of Engineering
As director of engineering for Encore Electric, Engelstad oversees all engineering and life safety efforts for the firm. He provides support for complex design issues and constructibility reviews and is involved with projects from preconstruction to commissioning. His favorite projects are those that he sees having the most impact on the lives of others such as data centers, laboratories, flight simulators, schools and hospitals. In his six years at the firm, he’s steadily risen through the ranks and is quick to credit his fellow team members as being paramount to his success. He helped redevelop Encore’s energized electrical process and electrical safety systems to include zero voltage verification. He is often consulted for his expertise and knowledge, which he has willingly shared with the industry, whether it’s giving presentations on critical microgrid information or arc flashes and the potential dangers of electrified work. Engelstad is the president of the Rocky Mountain Automatic Fire Alarm Association, where he is working for standardization of and training on complicated fire codes. He is an active member of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers and the National Fire Protection Agency. His recent notable projects include McGregor Square in Denver and the Pikes Peak Summit House in Colorado Springs.
“[Jamie Hodges’] commitment to solving unique challenges and getting the job done safely enabled ICM to vastly grow its client base and skill set.”
—Lauren Gamba, Account Director, Keeton PR
Project management specialist improves processes and outcomes
37, Executive Vice President
Industrial Constructors/Managers Inc. (ICM)
Hodges started his career at ICM as an intern more than 17 years ago. He gained experience through a variety of roles, from field engineer and estimator to project manager, while simultaneously studying for two degrees he obtained in three years. Today, he is an executive vice president known for his willingness to tackle challenging projects and his efforts to grow and diversify ICM across multiple industrial markets. He’s credited with helping the firm grow its Denver office revenue from $8 million a year in 2018 to $38 million in fiscal 2022. In his current role, Hodges focuses his efforts on improving company documentation processes, including building a formal operations manual for the company. He also oversaw the acquisition and integration of other organizations that grew ICM’s employee ranks in its Denver office by 40 people. Hodges has a Project Management Professional certification and is active in several industry organizations. He serves as a director of the Millwright Employers Association and is vice president on the Millwright Labor-Management Cooperation Committee. He is a member of the Rocky Mountain Mechanical Contractors Association, Colorado Steel Erectors Association, Project Management Institute and Associated General Contractors of Colorado, where he serves on the AGC specialty contractors committee and AGC subcontractor relations committee.
Civil engineer advocates for clean water in developing communities
39, Vice President /Operations Manager
Kennedy Jenks Consultants
Hudish is a licensed civil engineer who manages 18 people as the Colorado operations manager at Kennedy Jenks. A 2005 Colorado School of Mines graduate, Hudish joined Kennedy Jenks in 2008, quickly moving up the ladder and taking on increasingly complex project roles. Her efforts led her to being invited to become a shareholder of the employee-owned firm in 2011. She was named the firm’s Colorado operations manager in 2017, one of the youngest in the firm with that role. She also serves as a vice president and officer. Hudish has made a mark advocating for pay equity and mentoring women in engineering, creating a networking group for professional female engineers in the water/wastewater industry. She serves as co-chair of Kennedy Jenks’ professionals group, is the civil lead for the firm’s standards committee and directs the firm’s groundwater practice. Hudish is also known for her advocacy in providing clean water and sanitation services in developing communities. She works with the Rocky Mountain section of Water For People, serving in a variety of leadership roles including chair of the committee from 2010 through 2012 and from which she received the Kenneth J. Miller Founder’s Award from the organization for her volunteer efforts.
“[Steven Humphrey] manages an immense workload but still keeps time for his family and his group. He is a genuinely good man, tough but fair, and wise beyond his years.”
—Jeff Wulliman, Program Manager, Muller Engineering Co.
Water resources expert assisted CDOT flood recovery efforts
38, Principal/Senior Project Manager
Muller Engineering Co.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Colorado State University, Humphrey began a professional career focused on horizontal civil infrastructure as a water resources project engineer. He joined Muller in 2010 while also starting a master’s program in management, which he received from CSU in 2012. Humphrey’s assistance to the Colorado Dept. of Transportation during the recovery efforts from the catastrophic 2013 floods in northern Colorado was a key milestone in his career. The effectiveness of his response resulted in his promotion to flood recovery program manager. In this role, he prioritized, tracked and managed more than 200 projects valued at approximately $750 million in the decade after the floods. Humphrey’s desk is still adorned with many thank you letters signed personally by the residents of the flood-ravaged canyon. In 2016, Humphrey helped launch a new group and revenue stream at Muller focused on program management, owner’s representation and project management. The group is now 12 people strong and growing its services to include geographic information systems and grant funding consulting. Humphrey also manages the firm’s information technology group. He recently took on ownership within the company, becoming the youngest principal owner in the firm’s history.
Bridge design expert prioritizes work on rural roads
39, Lead Bridge Engineer
Leng is a professional engineer who’s completed more than 1,000 bridge inspections during her 18-year career. A forensic investigation of a collapsed bridge fueled her to study failure mechanisms, safety evaluation procedures and strengthening techniques of box bridges, which evolved into a passion for rescuing dilapidated structures. Leng received her bachelor’s degree in road engineering from Chongqing Jiaotong University and completed a master’s degree in bridge engineering from the Research Institute of Highway, which is part of the Ministry of Transport of China. There, she met professors from New Mexico State University who encouraged her to study in the U.S. In 2012, Leng began the doctorate program at New Mexico State University. She’s focused her research on developing and refining bridge load rating codes and serves as a research affiliate at NMSU. She is an expert in bridge design, load rating, strengthening and forensic analysis. After receiving her PhD, Leng joined Clark Engineering, now IMEG Corp., and serves as lead bridge engineer in its Sioux Falls, S.D., office. Leng prioritizes serving rural agencies, as the highest percentage of bridges classified as structurally deficient in the U.S. are located on rural roads. She is the author of several peer-reviewed articles and lends her expertise as a judge for the American Concrete Institute’s Excellence in Concrete Construction Awards.
Leader heads R&D on complexity, cost and decarbonization in construction
30, Research Engineer
Podder researches energy efficiency and industrialized construction as part of several global organizations. An emerging thought leader on complexity, cost and decarbonization in construction, Podder led research and development within the industrialized construction innovation group at the National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL) between 2019 and 2022. He aimed to leverage manufacturing engineering knowledge and processes to inform productivity challenges in construction, leading multiple proposal efforts for R&D projects cumulatively valued at $16.3 million. He was the project lead for Building Re-X, a project funded by the U.S. Dept. of Energy that focuses on embodied carbon, circular design and reuse of building construction materials. He recently expanded NREL’s involvement in construction workforce development by leading the development and demonstration of immersive industrialized construction environments. This effort aims to improve workforce productivity by bettering automation and using simulation processes of digital twins within a virtual reality system to make worker-machine interaction more efficient. Podder is a LEED Green Associate and Certified Professional in Design for Manufacturing and is pursuing a Certified Manufacturing Engineer credential. He is an active member of the local chapters of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, the Embodied Carbon Network and the Association of Energy Engineers. Podder moved to a design integration role at Reframe Systems in January 2023.
Hydrologist works to protect natural streams and rivers
30, Project Engineer
Ramos graduated magna cum laude from the Colorado School of Mines, later supplementing his bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering with a master’s in hydrology, also from Mines. He started his career as a staff hydrologist at the USGS Geomorphology and Sediment Transport Laboratory in Golden, Colo. He then joined Plummer and was promoted to project engineer in 2022. His projects range from asset management to water well developments and stormwater modeling for the design and construction of water and sewer conveyance systems and yard piping for treatment plants. His notable projects include several for the San Antonio River and Alliance Regional Water Authority along with the San Antonio Water System. Ramos supports Five Rivers Trout Unlimited (5RTU), his local chapter of Trout Unlimited. There he uses his hydrology background and engineering skills to help protect natural streams and rivers. He helps lead river cleanups, develops the chapter’s monthly newsletter and is involved in several of 5RTU’s proposed projects, including assisting with the designation of outstanding local waters and the reintroduction of the San Juan River cutthroat trout.
“Whether it’s serving as an active participant in many different STEM programs for students or hitting the road for Bike MS ... Jenny [Reitmeier] is consistently giving her time and talents to help others.”
—Dan Korinek, Vice President/General Manager, Burns & McDonnell in Colorado
Electrical engineer volunteers with students in STEM programs
34, Department Manager/Transmission & Distribution Group
Burns & McDonnell
Reitmeier joined Burns & McDonnell as an electrical engineer in 2009. Today, she serves as the department manager for the networks, integration and automation (NIA) team within the firm’s transmission and distribution group. An early field assignment exposed Reitmeier to distribution automation, and she was instantly hooked on its ability to help leverage data to inform client decisions. Her background includes electric utility SCADA and communications as well as substation and distribution automation. She has experience investigating business cases for distribution field communications, designing networks and conducting system settings and analysis for distribution automation schemes. As a project manager for a major utility provider, she led a team that implemented processes to reduce the overall system voltage and provide significant savings for the utility and its ratepayers, one of the first projects of its kind for Burns & McDonnell. She is an active participant in student STEM programs, including participating in job shadowing opportunities and leading project tours. Reitmeier is a member of the Western Energy Institute, participating in its business acumen for emerging leaders program. She is the 2019 recipient of the Emerging Leader Award from the Rocky Mountain Electrical League.
“[Coralynn Revis] is one of the best when it comes to wastewater regulations and treatment technology. She is highly respected by her peers and heavily relied upon by our clients.”
—Chris Kelly, Assistant Marketing Manager, HDR
Environmental engineer leads wastewater projects in Montana
39, Project Manager
Revis attended the Stevens Institute of Technology on a soccer scholarship, graduating with a degree in environmental engineering. She joined HDR’s water group in 2006, building a résumé as a seasoned project manager and professional engineer on multimillion-dollar wastewater projects. Today, Revis leads HDR’s Montana wastewater market sector, supporting its projects across the northwestern U.S. She is known for her expertise in wastewater regulations and treatment technology. She is active in the Water Environment Federation (WEF), serving as the Montana chapter president in 2012 and as a national delegate from 2013 to 2016. WEF awarded Revis the Select Society of Sanitary Sludge Shovelers award as well as the Gascoigne Operators award for the optimization of the Bozeman Water Reclamation Facility. Among her numerous internal HDR awards, Revis’ team won a competition that resulted in a $10,000 stipend to help fund a pilot project at the Bozeman facility that used waste from local microbreweries as a carbon source to enhance nitrogen removal. Her continued partnership with the city of Bozeman on the numerous design, construction and optimization projects at the facility, including a $53-million upgrade to biological nutrient removal, is a highlight of Revis’ career. Revis is an author of or contributor to numerous papers and served on the Montana Water Environment Association board for 10 years.
Experienced builder shines on multiple high-profile projects
38, Project Director
JE Dunn Construction
Slattery has a degree in economics but pursued a career in construction in part due to the summers he spent working as a laborer for his father’s custom home building business. He joined JE Dunn as a project engineer in 2006. He worked his way up to project director at the firm by delivering higher education, data center and mixed-use projects, among others. He most recently served as senior project manager on the nearly 400,000-sq-ft Anschutz Health Sciences Building on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Additional high-profile projects on Slattery’s résumé include the 181,000-sq-ft NREL Energy Systems Integration Facility in Golden and Spire Denver, a nearly 1-million-sq-ft, 41-story, 496-unit condominium in downtown Denver. Slattery helped launch a project engineer peer group for JE Dunn’s Colorado office. The peer group is designed to allow employees who are just starting out in their careers to feel engaged and supported through planned jobsite visits, community engagement events and social events. Slattery serves on the advisory board of CU Boulder’s construction engineering and management program and as Dunn’s campus recruitment lead. He is a LEED Accredited Professional who dedicates time and resources to Junior Achievement Rocky Mountain.
Engineer specializes in dam safety risk analysis
34, Geotechnical Engineering Team Leader
A licensed professional engineer with over a decade of experience in dam safety risk analyses, geotechnical analyses and engineering design, Smolarek’s efforts at AECOM include numerous geotechnical analyses for a variety of water supply and hydropower embankment dams. She’s recently focused on dam safety risk analyses to help dam owners and regulators better understand the risk posed by their dams. She helps clients evaluate the severity of dam safety deficiencies, identify risk reduction measures and make decisions about how best to allocate resources. She also develops risk-informed dam safety procedures for state dam safety branches, including those in Colorado, New Mexico and Hawaii. Her current project responsibilities include acting as deputy project manager for the design of a 300-ft-high, high-hazard embankment dam. Smolarek was named geotechnical engineering team leader at AECOM in 2020, where she manages and mentors a team of five professionals. She is an active member of the Association of State Dam Safety Officials and has been one of the instructors for its short course on seepage through earth dams for the past seven years. She’s also active in the U.S. Society on Dams and the American Society of Civil Engineers. She’s a licensed professional engineer in multiple states and the author of numerous technical publications.
“[Matt Ward] believes that the more you give, the more you will receive, and those in the position to give, should do so in grand fashion.”
—Jared Bodammer, CMO, Ward Electric Co.
Business owner’s site visits help him keep a pulse on operations
Ward Electric Co.
Ward began his career as a groundman, working his way up to an apprentice lineman, journeyman lineman, foreman, general foreman and superintendent. He became co-owner and vice president of Ward Electric Co. in 2012 after he and his brother purchased the company from their parents. He was named president in 2020 after his mother, the firm’s only president, passed away. He is noted for his energy, work ethic and passion for the industry. He has led company expansions of additional offices and helped the firm grow its number of employees and overall revenue. He is regularly out in the field, traveling from worksite to worksite. The regular contact helps him keep a pulse on the organization and the people within, and he has an innate ability to read and connect with people and to place them where they can do their best work and thrive. At the industry level, he serves on the Mountain States Line Constructor apprenticeship board, supporting apprenticeship training efforts. He was recently selected as a ColoradoBiz magazine Top 50 Most Influential Young Professional, earning the GenXYZ award. The company has also recently been recognized as a BizWest Mercury 100 Fastest-Growing Private Company and a Denver Business Journal Best Place to Work. Ward counts as among his greatest achievements his co-founding of the JoyforWard Foundation, a nonprofit designed to carry on his late mother’s legacy and to support endeavors in which she strongly believed.
Communications specialist launches company-wide safety initiatives
36, Marketing and Partner Relations Manager
Originally from Hawaii, Westbrooks brings a sense of her “aloha spirit” to everything she does, her colleagues say. After joining Saunders in 2013, Westbrooks was soon promoted to senior marketing coordinator, and she now serves as the firm’s marketing and partner relations manager. She is credited with elevating Saunders’ marketing and communications department to advance into a revenue-generating, award-winning and high-performing team. In her current role, Westbrooks oversees $1.8 billion in construction value of qualifications and proposals annually. She is responsible for leading business development efforts for K-12 and municipal markets, organizing and conducting client and business partner outreach, creating promotional brochures and presentations and managing the workload of three marketing coordinators. Westbrooks is also passionate about improving safety and has helped reinvent how Saunders communicates about safety. She presented a comprehensive internal communications plan to executive leadership and was approved to launch a new safety logo, bimonthly safety newsletter and ongoing safety promotions. In the two years after the launch of the new safety campaign, Saunders completed 2 million man-hours of work without a lost-time incident. Westbrooks helped create a company outreach task force, which she currently co-chairs, and she also volunteers with Cherry Creek Schools and the Kempe Foundation.
Stormwater inspector manages complicated utility projects
39, Vice President of Operations
During his 18-year career in the civil construction industry, Yantes has developed expertise in managing complicated utility projects. He joined BHI five years ago and is credited with improving the company’s processes and outcomes through his involvement in its project controls committee. He helped develop and implement many key standard operating procedures now formally adopted into BHI’s general operating manual. This includes a comprehensive project scorecard, change order process improvements and an update of fleet cost charging procedures. Yantes establishes annual training budgets and programs for his team, encouraging engagement and buy-in by allowing the team to pick the area of focus for each session. His notable and award-winning projects include the $10-million Ogden Canyon Pipeline Rehabilitation, the Ogden 25th Street waterline improvements and the Barton Creek flood control project. He is the recipient of many awards and recognitions, including multiple awards from the Utah chapter of the Associated General Contractors. One of those AGC Utah awards was Project Manager of the Year. He is a Utah Registered Stormwater Inspector, a LEED accredited professional and is certified in Primavera. Yantes gives back to community organizations through participation in Habitat for Humanity and Ogden City Partners in Success. He also is head coach for the local youth lacrosse team.
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