Engineers Week 2019 - Jason Petersburg

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Where are you from? Joice, Iowa

Where did you go to school? Iowa State University

What office are you based out of? Mason City, Iowa

Which area of engineering do you practice? Municipal/Civil Engineering

What does “engineering” mean to you? Making deliberate decisions using math and science skills to find efficient, cost effective solutions to problems or projects.

What did you choose the engineering field? I’ve always enjoyed math and science. Engineering was a good match for me.

What is your favorite project that you’ve worked on? I don’t have one particular project that I would call a favorite. I enjoy utility work the most, including sewer, water and storm sewer. Anything buried!

A piece of advice you would have for those considering engineering as a profession? Particularly for municipal engineering, make yourself take government classes so you are familiar with the workings of municipal clients.

Fun fact: I have an identical twin brother (although were were never formally identified as being identical).

Engineers Week 2019 - Chris Parizek

Where are you from? Iowa City, Iowa

Where did you go to school? Iowa State University for Animal Ecology and the University of Iowa for Civil Engineering

What office are you based out of? Rock Island, Illinois

Which area of engineering do you practice? Municipal Engineering with a focus on water

What does “engineering” mean to you? Problem solving. Examining the needs and developing a solution.

What did you choose the engineering field? While working in the Ecology field, I was exposed to building terraces, ponds, and dams.  I wanted to be able to be the Professional Engineer that stamped the plans so I went back to school for my engineering degree.

What is your favorite project that you’ve worked on? In Henry County Iowa, I had the opportunity to work on an integrated planning project for a farm that raised Dexter Cows. Dexter Cows are of Irish decent and are the smallest bovines.  I love Dexter Cows.  The integrated planning project involved examining water sources and pipelines, grazing and nutrient management as well as pest management and cropping plans.  

A piece of advice you would have for those considering engineering as a profession? Find your passion and go for it. If you’re passionate you will enjoy it.

Fun fact: I played the violin for 12 years.

Engineers Week 2019 - Mat Saur

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Where are you from? Iowa City, Iowa

Where did you go to school? Iowa State University

What office are you based out of? Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Which area of engineering do you practice? Civil Engineering

What does “engineering” mean to you? Civil Engineers are problem solvers that help people by improving infrastructure and the environment.

What did you choose the engineering field? I always enjoyed math and science in school, I had great teachers that really made those classes fun.  I also enjoyed building things and learning how stuff works.  Engineering seemed to check all of those boxes.

What is your favorite project that you’ve worked on? I have really enjoyed the variety of work that I have been involved in.  From water, wastewater, streets and building projects, I am always learning new things.  One of the more gratifying projects that I have worked on was a park project for the city that I live in (Marion).  My kids don’t usually get excited about a sewer plant I am working on but they really loved hearing about the new park and playground being built near our house.

A piece of advice you would have for those considering engineering as a profession? Engineering is not just about math and science, don’t forget about the soft skills.  You need to be creative, flexible and be able to work with others in a team setting.  While engineers are not typically known for their communication skills, communication is very important between co-workers and clients.  

Fun fact: While I am a proud ISU grad, I still root for the Iowa Hawkeyes in sports. 

Engineers Week 2019 - Michelle Melson

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Where are you from? Hannibal, Missouri

Where did you go to school? University of Missouri - Rolla (Civil Engineering)

What office are you based out of? Liberty, Missouri

Which area of engineering do you practice? I prefer bridges but enjoy roadways for a change of pace.

What does “engineering” mean to you? Solving problems.

What did you choose the engineering field? I’m logical and I like math and science. It didn’t hurt that the pay was good.

What is your favorite project that you’ve worked on? The steel bridge I’m collaborating on with the Springfield office.  It’s a multi-span bridge with 60-inch deep beams over a county road, 2 railroads, and a creek.      

A piece of advice you would have for those considering engineering as a profession? Get an internship before you commit to the program… make sure you like it.

Fun fact: I don’t like to ride motorcycles.  My brother made me ride a dirt bike when I was young and we crashed.     

Engineers Week 2019 - Emily Linebaugh

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Where are you from? Ames, Iowa

Where did you go to school? Iowa State University (Bachelors) and University of Iowa (Masters)

What office are you based out of? Coralville, Iowa

Which area of engineering do you practice? Environmental/Water & Wastewater Treatment

What does “engineering” mean to you? Helping communities find solutions to problems.

What did you choose the engineering field? I liked math and science growing up. My dad worked at the DOT, and I did a job shadow there in middle school. I liked the idea of building things and having a finished product that everyone could see. Engineering seemed like a good fit.

What is your favorite project that you’ve worked on? Marion Water Department’s Booster Station and Ground Storage Tank. 

A piece of advice you would have for those considering engineering as a profession? Engineering is not all math and science. There is much more writing and communication than most people anticipate. Work on your technical writing skills.

Fun fact: I enjoy traveling to warm weather destinations and love to fly.  

Engineers Week 2019 - Chad Kehrt

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Where are you from? Belmond, Iowa

Where did you go to school? Iowa State University (Construction Engineering)

What office are you based out of? Sergeant Bluff, Iowa

Which area of engineering do you practice? Municipal Engineering

What does “engineering” mean to you? Improving infrastructure to help society live better lives.

What did you choose the engineering field? As a kid I loved taking things apart and putting them back together. Now I enjoy building things.

What is your favorite project that you’ve worked on? I love residential street construction because of the interaction I get to have with the residents. My favorite project was 3 pipeline borings under the Missouri River. The project connected water and sewer lines between South Sioux City, Nebraska and Sioux City, Iowa.

A piece of advice you would have for those considering engineering as a profession? Don’t be afraid to take chances and network as much as possible.

Fun fact: I do not have a lot of hobbies and would not consider myself an overly interesting person.  I like to golf.  I do like to spend time with my family and friends, especially during the summer when we can be outdoors.  I love to spend time watching Iowa State football and basketball.  I go to many ISU football games with my wife, kids, and granddaughters.  My wife and I purchased an ISU tailgating bus last fall and we are really looking forward to football games this fall.

Engineers Week 2019 - Chris Kohlrus

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Where are you from? Springfield, Illinois

Where did you go to school? Southern Illinois - Carbondale

What office are you based out of? Springfield, Illinois

Which area of engineering do you practice? Civil Engineering (Transportation)

What does “engineering” mean to you? To me engineering involves solving problems and asking “How can I fix this?”. I am always trying to fix things.

What did you choose the engineering field? I knew in high school I was interested in engineering. I wanted to build things. Joining Henderson & Associates allowed me to see all facets of a project, from beginning to end, due to the size of the firm. I was able to gain experience in land surveying in that process and really enjoyed it.

What is your favorite project that you’ve worked on? U.S. 150 in Galesburg, Illinois. We relocated (moved) U.S. 150 due to visibility issues. In the process we also had to relocate a county road. A new bridge was constructed over the railroad tracks on the edge of Galesburg. All of the earthwork was completed during the first year to allow time for things to settle. Construction took place last year, and the road was formally opened for use in the Fall of 2018.

A piece of advice you would have for those considering engineering as a profession? First and foremost, it doesn’t matter where you go to school. Regardless of where you go to learn, you will only leave with theory. What matters is after school, once you enter the field. On the job is where you really learn how to be an engineer.

Fun fact: Family is my number one priority. While I work hard, I also like to play hard. I enjoy being the jokester of the office!

Engineers Week 2019 - Randy Johnson

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Where are you from? Fairbanks, Alaska

Where did you go to school? University of Alaska Fairbanks

What office are you based out of? West Des Moines, Iowa

Which area of engineering do you practice? General Civil Engineering (Municipal)

What does “engineering” mean to you? To me engineering involves providing the public with systems to improve public infrastructure, including roads, sewer, water, and air.

What did you choose the engineering field? High school aptitude tests indicated engineering would be a good field for me. I’ve always enjoyed math and science, and I enjoy being outside.

What is your favorite project that you’ve worked on? University of Alaska Fairbanks Dining Facility. We added a dining facility to the Student Union. The building’s exterior almost entirely consists of colored glass panels. I took the project from conceptual development through final construction.

A piece of advice you would have for those considering engineering as a profession? Do it! An engineering degree offers so many avenues, and gives you the flexibility to find an area that you enjoy.

Fun fact: I’ve been married 33 years and have three kids. Two daughters who are still in Alaska, and my son who is currently living in Des Moines. I’m also a grandpa!

Engineers Week 2019 - Jacob Lucas

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Where are you from? Bankston, Iowa

Where did you go to school? Loras College

What office are you based out of? Dubuque, Iowa

Which area of engineering do you practice? Electrical/Controls Engineering

What does “engineering” mean to you? For me engineering is “making things work”. You can take a mix of unrelated parts and equipment and design a system that allows them to work together to solve the problem at hand.

What did you choose the engineering field? I’ve always been interested in how things work, and enjoy tinkering and taking things apart.

What is your favorite project that you’ve worked on? Osceola, Iowa Wastewater Treatment Facility Upgrade

A piece of advice you would have for those considering engineering as a profession? Stick with it! Don’t let calculus and other daunting college courses scare you off. If you are a problem solver and want to make an impact in your community, engineering is for you.

Fun fact: My wife Jamie and I have 2 kids, Josey and James. Both times she was pregnant I managed to injure my knee playing rec league basketball. The latest incident occurred last December, coincidentally less than a week before we were scheduled to move. Needless to say I’ve been forced into early retirement from basketball.

Engineers Week 2019 - Russ Stammer

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Where are you from? Storm Lake, Iowa

Where did you go to school? Iowa State University

What office are you based out of? Rochester, Minnesota

Which area of engineering do you practice? Civil Engineering

What does “engineering” mean to you? Guiding clients, regulators and contractors to good solutions and good projects.

What did you choose the engineering field? Aptitude tests in high school and talking with other classmates.

What is your favorite project that you’ve worked on? I have two! The Hampton, Iowa Composite Water Tower, which was the first modern composite water tower in Iowa. The second is the Fort Dodge Phase 1 Waste Water Treatment Improvements project, where repairs were made that brought the plant into compliance with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources while staying within the City’s set budget.

A piece of advice you would have for those considering engineering as a profession? Choose your profession based on the big picture of what you decide you want to do. Don’t avoid a career because of the classes you have to take to get there. I did not like chemistry in school, but it is an important part of my work.

Fun fact: I backpacked 72 miles at Philmont with my son and his fellow boys scouts a few years ago.

Project Spotlight: Burlington Riverfront TIGER Grant Project

V&K recently submitted a proposal for the Main Street, Jefferson Street and Riverfront Improvements project for the City of Burlington. Led by the Quad Cities office, the proposed team consisted of V&K, SmithGroup, Bruner, Cooper & Zuck, Inc. Terracon, Environmental Planning Strategies and Tallgrass Archaeology. V&K has worked previously with SmithGroup, who provides urban planning/rendering and design services, for the City of Burlington’s Flood Mitigation project. 

 The $17M project includes riverfront amenities (ramp, docks, parking, shade structures), complete streets (9 blocks on Main Street and 8 blocks on Jefferson Street), and combines flood protection, sewer separation, dockage and integrated planning into one effort. The V&K team was selected without interview as we clearly stood out among competitors for the Engineering Services related to the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generation Economic Recovery) grant, a significant aspect of the project’s funding. 

A special thank you to Jason McKenzie (Rock Island) and Eric Lee (Rock Island) for their work completing the grant application for the project!

To learn more about the Riverfront project and other TIGER Grant projects, visit the links below:

https://www.thehawkeye.com/news/20180306/burlington-wins-consequential-17-million-grant-for-jefferson-main-and-riverfront-video

https://www.iapublictransit.com/news/iowa-receives-17-million-in-tiger-grants-from-fta

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