The Best of the Best: An Introduction to the 2017 Engineer of the Year Award Nominees

Feb 2, 2018 | Engineering

Joseph Taylor

Each year Alaska’s professional engineering societies nominate candidates for the Engineer of the Year Award. The competition is an opportunity to highlight the incredible engineering talent and good works that are taking place in our state. Each candidate’s credentials are reviewed by an independent panel of judges who select the overall winner. The competition culminates with the recognition of each candidate at the annual Engineers Week Banquet and Awards Ceremony in late February, at which the winner is revealed. The judging criteria include:

  • Significant engineering work over the past two years
  • Historical significant engineering work
  • Publications and professional presentations
  • Contribution to the professional societies
  • Other service to the professional community
  • Service to the broader community

These criteria demonstrate that, in addition to engineering excellence, service to the community and the profession is a value held dearly in the engineering community. This year’s candidates are no exception and they embody these values. As last year’s Alaska Engineer of the Year, it is my distinct privilege to introduce you to a few of this year’s Engineer of the Year nominees and the professional societies they represent.

Image courtesy of Christine Ness

Christine Ness

Christine Ness, PE, FPE, CFPS, is a registered Fire Protection Engineer and PDC’s associate leading their fire protection services. She holds professional engineer registration in fire protection engineering in Alaska, Ohio, and Washington; is a Certified Fire Protection Specialist (CFPS); and has Alaska Fire System Permits. Ness is the president of the Alaska Chapter of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers and the vice president of the Alaska Chapter of the National Society of Women in Construction. Ness possesses more than twenty-two years of fire protection and life safety engineering experience with extensive technical competence interpreting the model building, life safety, and fire codes, as well as state

building and fire codes. She has specialized professional experience in both performance-based and detailed design for automatic sprinkler, fire detection and alarm, and building protection systems. Ness is also experienced in engineering systems for the protection of facilities using hazardous materials including flammable liquids.

Her projects can be found in the United States, McMurdo Station Antarctica, Fort McMurray Alberta Canada, Egypt, Iraq, Japan, Italy, Slovakia, and Trinidad and Tobago. Project types include systems design and analysis of special industrial facilities, healthcare centers, oil and gas exploration facilities, mining facilities, military mission compounds, telecom hubs, historic buildings, university campuses, airport traffic control facilities, and post-fire event industrial site forensics.

Working under a Lockheed Martin contract, Ness provided engineering support for FAA airport traffic control tower upgrades and new construction projects at a number of International Airports (O’Hare, Milwaukee General Mitchell, Indianapolis, Detroit Metro, Dayton, Cleveland Hopkins, Port Columbus), as well as several regional airports across the Midwest. She also worked on military projects as a fire protection engineer on the expansion and renovation of Eielson Air Force Base, Fort Greely, Yokota Air Base in Japan, Fort Lee, Fort Hood, Blossom Point, Camp LeJeune, Naval Station Norfolk, Oceana Naval Air Station, and Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base Seal Operations Facilities. Ness has also provided fire alarm and fire suppression systems design for several dormitories and classroom facilities including at Old Dominion University, William and Mary University, Christopher Newport University, Tidewater Community College, and the University of Illinois’ five campuses.

Ness received her bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from Bradley University and master’s classwork in fire protection engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Ness was nominated by the National Society of Women in Construction, which provides its members with opportunities for professional development, education, networking, leadership training, public service, and more for the purpose of enhancing the success of women in the construction industry.

Image courtesy of Tracy McKeon

Tracy McKeon

Tracy McKeon, PE, LEED AO BD+C, is a mechanical engineer and project manager leading the mechanical group at CRW Engineering Group. She was raised in an Air Force family, traveling around the United States throughout her younger years, and ended her high school years at Eielson Air Force Base where she developed her love for Alaska. She went on to attend the University of Alaska Fairbanks where she earned her bachelor of science in mechanical engineering and was actively involved in the student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Since that time she has worked for more than eighteen years on mechanical design and construction management projects throughout Alaska.

McKeon worked for mechanical contractors for six years and has hands-on knowledge of plumbing, mechanical installations, and design. She is a qualified commissioning professional and has been LEED AP certified since 2008. McKeon became an engineer to help improve the life of others and believes in developing cost-effective simple and energy efficient systems for economically challenged communities.

Over the past four years at CRW she has had many opportunities to pursue her goals as she worked on multiple heat recovery and sustainable and renewable energy projects, all while starting and growing a successful mechanical engineering department. She is currently designing the Anchorage School District Rogers Park HVAC Upgrades, Huslia Biomass Boiler project, and multiple PRV stations under the Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility Competitive Term Contract. Recent significant projects include designing the Quinhagak Heat Recovery Project, which won the American Public Works Association Innovative Energy Solution in 2016, and both the People’s Choice and a Grand Award during 2017 E-week. It is now being used as a template for other communities.

McKeon is passionate about passing on her knowledge to the next generation and advocating for STEM. She is heavily involved in coaching and mentoring multiple teams in the FIRST Tech Challenge Robotics leagues since 2010 at both the high school and elementary school levels. She has been a mentor for the Anchorage School District Gifted Mentorship program. She also volunteers and participates regularly in programs including “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” and the “JBER Library STEM Day” in hopes of igniting their curiosity in STEM fields.

McKeon is a member of the National Fire Protection Association, Society of Women Engineers, and the Society for Military Engineers. She is an active member of ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers), serving on the Board of Governors for the past two years. She was nominated for the Engineer of the Year Award by ASHRAE, a global society dedicated to advancing the arts and sciences of heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and refrigerating to serve humanity and promote a sustainable world.

Image courtesy of Jim Sawhill

Jim Sawhill

Jim Sawhill, PE, is a principal with Lounsbury & Associates and has more than thirty-five years of Alaska engineering, project management, construction management, and contract management experience. He led Lounsbury’s engineering services for twenty-seven years. During his tenure at Lounsbury, Sawhill successfully designed and/or managed more than 300 projects. His combination of technical excellence and management skills enable him to successfully guide design teams to develop innovative solutions for projects. He is also well-known for his public involvement skills, effectively communicating technical issues and impacts to the public in an understandable manner. Sawhill is accomplished at completing a variety of projects including arterial, collector, and local roads for the Municipality of Anchorage; highway projects for the Alaska Department of Transportation;

Arctic roads and pads for oil development; water and wastewater projects; site designs; and subdivision development. Recently, Sawhill led the consultant team that designed improvements for Spenard Road. The project is Anchorage’s first complete street design, providing eight-foot pedestrian sidewalks, five-foot bike lanes, and improved transit stops. This controversial project included a significant public involvement process to overcome concerns about traffic congestion, parking, and private property impacts.

Sawhill was a member of the Municipality of Anchorage Urban Design Commission for seven years and has been active in several professional organizations through the years, serving in a variety of positions.

Sawhill spends his free time fishing, hiking, and relaxing at his Willow cabin. He is family- oriented, visiting his children in the states whenever possible—sometimes meeting them in Seattle for a Seahawks game.

The Institution of Transport Engineers—which nominated Sawhill—is a professional society of more than15,000 transportation engineers, planners, and other professionals in some eighty countries. The Institute facilitates the application of technology and scientific principles to research, planning, functional design, implementation, operation, policy development, and management for all modes of transportation.

Image courtesy of Tami Hamler

Tami Hamler

Tami Hamler, PE, MS, is a senior mechanical engineer with AMC Engineers, an engineering firm specializing in the design of well-engineered, energy efficient, and sustainable mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems.

In 1982, Hamler earned her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and in 1984, her master’s degree in from the University of Virginia. Prior to joining AMC in 1996, Hamler spent five years as a full-time mom, one of her most rewarding jobs, and worked several years as a rehabilitation engineer. Rehabilitation engineering involves the use of engineering principles to develop technological solutions and devices to assist individuals with disabilities.

Hamler’s twenty-one years of Alaska engineering, project management,

construction management, and commissioning experience have given her the opportunity to manage and design a variety of commercial projects, specializing in heating, ventilation, and plumbing systems. Hamler strives for simple, maintainable, and energy efficient systems. During her fourteen-year career at AMC, Hamler has designed several challenging projects throughout the state including the UAA Engineering and Industry Building in Anchorage, Mount Edgecumbe Aquatic Center in Sitka, and the new Alaska Airlines Hangar in Anchorage.

Hamler maintains a professional membership with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).

Hamler maintains a professional membership with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).

When she is not working, Hamler enjoys being outside, mountain biking, cross country skiing, sea kayaking, and ultimate Frisbee. Ultimate Frisbee is a team sport Hamler began playing in college and has been a favorite pastime since. In the mid-1990s, Hamler contributed to the formation of the Anchorage Ultimate Frisbee Club, a nonprofit organization that continues to thrive. Always a “tinkerer,” Hamler took her interests to the next level by designing and building an off-the-grid home for her family near Talkeetna. The home continues to provide a quiet refuge from a busy world.

Founded in 1950, Hamler’s sponsor, SWE, is a nonprofit service organization dedicated to the advancement of women in the engineering profession. SWE aims to encourage women into engineering and leadership, expand the image of engineering as a positive force in improving the quality of life, and demonstrating the value of diversity.

Image courtesy of Gregory Latreille

Gregory Latreille

Gregory Latreille was born and raised in the small, rural town of Malone, New York, ten miles from the Canadian border. He earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in civil engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute after which he moved to Alaska in 2005. He has been working as a structural engineer for Anchorage-based BBFM Engineers Inc. since then, where he is now a principal. He has designed and analyzed structures of various construction types and materials, including wood, steel, concrete, and masonry, and he is familiar with the special design constraints and demands of Arctic structures in both rural and urban settings. Notable projects he has worked on in Alaska include the new Alaska Airlines Center sports arena at the University of Alaska at Anchorage, the new Paul John Calricaraq Clinic and existing hospital renovation in Bethel, the Fairbanks

International Airport Terminal renovation and expansion, the new Thunder Mountain High School in Juneau, and the revitalization and structural stabilization of the historic Kennecott Mine mill building, a National Historic Landmark. Outside of his work in Alaska, Latreille has worked on projects on Antarctica, including miscellaneous projects at the South Pole Station and a large addition to the IT Center at McMurdo Station.

He is a licensed professional engineer and a licensed structural engineer in Alaska. Latreille is a member of various engineering societies, including the American Society of Civil Engineers, Chi Epsilon, the Structural Engineers Association of Alaska, and the Alaska Society of Professional Engineers (ASPE)/National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE). He was a member of the ASPE state board of directors from 2006 to 2015, serving various roles including statewide treasurer, state president, and Alaska’s representative in the NSPE House of Delegates. He has been active in the NSPE Western and Pacific Region since 2007, serving as region chair from 2013 to 2015 and region director from 2016 to the present. His work in the field of structural engineering and his extensive service to the profession earned Latreille recognition from his peers, including the NSPE New Faces of Engineering award in 2010, the ASPE Engineer of the Year Award in 2011, and a nomination for the 2011 Anchorage E-Week Engineer of the Year in 2011.

In addition to service to his profession, Latreille is a very active donor with the Blood Bank of Alaska, to which he has donated more than five gallons of blood over the years. In his time away from his career, Latreille is an avid outdoorsman. He enjoys skiing, snow-shoeing, hockey, hiking, camping, fishing, and hunting. He also enjoys travel both within Alaska and abroad with his family.

Latreille is nominated by ASPE, the unified voice and advocate for professional engineers in Alaska. The group says on its website is “the only engineering society that represents professional engineers from all branches.”

Image courtesy of Tor Anderzen

Tor Anderzen

Tor Anderzen is a senior aviation engineer and leads the Airports Group at HDL Engineering Consultants. He has twelve years of airport planning and design experience and is a licensed Professional Civil Engineer in Alaska and Montana. A Swede by birth, Anderzen has lived in the US since 2000 and Alaska since 2011. Anderzen began his career working as a land surveyor for ten years, returning to college in 2002 earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering at Michigan Technological University (MTU). Anderzen has worked on airport projects in Michigan, Montana, and Alaska. His notable experience in Alaska includes rehabilitation of the Warren “Bud” Woods Palmer Municipal Airport, and solving the challenges of rehabilitating airports in the extreme Arctic conditions of Nuiqsut and Atqasuk.

Anderzen is perpetually active in the engineering profession and the community. He joined the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) as a student at MTU. He has served as a branch officer in Montana and Anchorage, and now serves as vice president for the Alaska Section. Anderzen was the committee chair and led the efforts to produce Alaska’s first ASCE Infrastructure Report Card. Since, he has been a champion of presenting the report card to the Alaska Community including legislators, Governor Walker, Chambers of Commerce, Rotary Clubs, fellow engineering societies, as well as giving radio and television interviews. Currently, Anderzen is working on a video script to reach a broader audience across Alaska.

An ASCE Advocacy Captain in Alaska since 2014, Anderzen has traveled to Juneau and Washington, DC to advocate for infrastructure and engineering issues. Anderzen also serves on ASCE’s national and regional committees for government relations and Infrastructure Report Card. Based on his efforts on a local, regional, and national level, Anderzen was the recipient of ASCE’s 2017 Engineering Advocate of the Year Award.

He is also an active corresponding member on the Committee on Sustainable Infrastructure where he is working on incorporating sustainability metrics into the Infrastructure Report Card. He is passionate about K-12 outreach, and is a member of ASCE’s Pre-College Outreach Committee where he is working to add more K-12 programs. Anderzen is a frequent classroom visitor in several elementary, middle, and high schools to bring engineering to students.

Image courtesy of Cathy Foerster

Cathy Foerster

Cathy Foerster is the engineering commissioner for the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (AOGCC), the state agency charged with regulating oil, gas, and geothermal drilling, wellwork, and resource management on all the lands and waters of Alaska to ensure greater resource recovery, prevent resource waste, protect fresh ground waters, protect correlative rights, and protect human health and safety.

Foerster earned a bachelor of science with highest honors from The University of Texas at Austin and joined Exxon Company USA in Houston, where she worked first as a reservoir engineer for various Gulf Coast fields and subsequently as a facility engineer on gas transmission lines and compressor stations in South Texas.

She then joined ARCO and continued to work in Texas in various locations and assignments of increasing responsibility. She moved with ARCO to Alaska in 1992 to take on new challenges, initially serving as operations superintendent for wellwork and drillsite maintenance at Prudhoe Bay, later overseeing the engineers and geoscientists responsible for optimizing production from Kuparuk and developing satellite fields, such as West Sak and Tarn, and finally lobbying for ARCO in Juneau.
When ARCO was acquired by BP in 2000, Foerster became the project manager for the design and construction of the BP Energy Center, a highly innovative community center for non-profit organizations. She left BP in 2002 to work for Petrotechnical Resources as an engineering consultant. Her clients included independent explorers, the Department of Natural Resources, and BP.

In 2005, the Governor of Alaska appointed Foerster to serve as the engineering commissioner for the AOGCC. In that position she advocated for the federal government to clean up their 136 hazardous and unsightly legacy wells, updated and strengthened Alaska’s hydraulic fracturing regulations, and helped to determine appropriate reservoir management for major gas sales from the North Slope. She has represented the State of Alaska to various Congressional committees and on several national technical task groups.

In 2005, Foerster was named a Distinguished Mechanical Engineer by the University of Texas Mechanical Engineering Academy of Distinguished Alumni. In 2008 she was named to the Athena Society, a national organization of business professionals who are recognized for mentoring young women. Also in 2008 Foerster was named a Distinguished Graduate of the University of Texas Cockrell School of Engineering.

She has devoted countless hours volunteering to support positive youth development, help the needy, fight cancer, and include animals positively in our community. She mentors students and promotes their interests in math, science, and engineering, and she mentors young engineers, especially women, in dealing with the unique challenges of the oil and gas industry. She organizes volunteer activities for her office, her alumni association, and her church. She is an avid reader, outdoorswoman, and swimmer.

Foerster married her college sweetheart, Keith, and they have two sons, Kenny and Nate. Kenny is a family practice physician in Washington and Nate is the marketing director for Bailey’s Furniture Company. Both are Eagle Scouts.

Image courtesy of Timothy Gould

Timothy “Tim” Gould

Timothy “Tim” Gould, PE, is a professional civil and environmental engineer with Ahtna Engineering Services (AES) who possesses more than twenty-eight years of professional engineering experience. AES is a self-performing federal, state, and local government contractor specializing in engineering, environmental remediation, and compliance; as well as vertical and horizontal construction. In 2017, he was promoted to president of AES after serving as its vice president since 2014. During his tenure with AES, Gould successfully grew the firm to more than 100 staff and graduated AES from its 8(a) program status with the SBA to be a competitive, small business enterprise. He continues to lead the company with expanded service offerings; business development teaming strategies (including a successful mentor-protégé

relationship); and is instrumental in day-to-day operations.

Gould is also the vice president of two of Ahtna’s other subsidiaries (Ahtna Environmental and Ahtna Global–both active 8(a) engineering, environmental, and construction firms. Combined, AES, AEI, and AGL perform work throughout the U.S. with offices in Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, California, Texas, Missouri, and Virginia.

Gould was born in Montana and has lived and worked in Alaska since 1982. He earned a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Maine and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Gould is a Past President of the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) Alaska Chapter Anchorage Post and currently holds a seat on SAME’s Board. He is also on their Board for the Benjamin B. Talley Scholarship. And he volunteers with the Alaska Sailing Club.

Gould lives in Anchorage with his wife, Jodi. During their free time, the pair loves boating, hunting, skiing, and traveling.

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