HAVE YOU HEARD?

Rebar and concrete pour for the approach slabs for new undercrossing. (Photo Credit: Caltrans District 3)

One of the most satisfying things in an engineer’s career is seeing projects that you have worked on through the planning and design phases go to construction and get built.

In case you have not noticed, there have been a lot of construction on the highways in the Sacramento and surrounding regions. One in particular, includes the US 50 Camino Safety Project (Camino/US 50 Project) for Caltrans District 3.

The Camino/US 50 Project addresses safety conditions on US 50 through the community of Camino and will eliminate left turn conflicts in an area that is notorious for its history of accidents. Before, drivers were forced to turn left across the four-lane highway to enter or exit Camino and the surrounding areas. These left turn movements had one of the highest broadside collision rates in California. The problem with these specific left turn movements is that traffic on US 50 is traveling at 65 mph. While vehicles wait for the opportunity to make a left turn between the gaps of US 50 traffic drivers sometimes feel pressured to make the left turn before the gap in traffic is adequate. As a result, cars have often had severe broadside accidents while trying to make a turn. There have also been several instances of a driver crossing the painted median on US 50 resulting in head on collisions, which at times were fatal. Mark Rayback and our Wood Rodgers Transportation Team designed a median barrier and new access points for drivers to safely enter and exit Camino safely. The median barrier will also eliminate the possibility of a head on collision.

“It’s such a dangerous, unsafe area, with a bad history,” said Rayback. “The fact that we get to work on a project that positively impacts our community and literally saves lives is very meaningful to our team. People don’t know it, but we’re actually saving their lives with this project. We want to do the right thing, work hard and deliver something meaningful. It’s special to be a part of that.”

One of the major challenges the team faced was the very compressed schedule to meet a 95% Submittal on this high-profile safety project. Wood Rodgers essentially completed designing the project alternatives in less than 5 months. The Wood Rodgers Team provided over 30+ cost estimates and attended numerous coordination meetings with Caltrans. The Team really pulled together and oftentimes, it was all hands on-deck, but in the end, the final design was on time.

On July 2nd, concrete approach slabs for the new undercrossing were poured. This portion of the project will provide drainage improvements, access to the undercrossing from local roads, as well as providing a wildlife crossing under the highway.

Construction of the new undercrossing. (Photo Credit: Caltrans District 3)
Construction of the new undercrossing. (Photo Credit: Caltrans District 3)
Concrete pour for the approach slabs for new undercrossing. (Photo Credit: Caltrans District 3)
Concrete pour for the approach slabs for new undercrossing. (Photo Credit: Caltrans District 3)
Rebar and concrete pour for the approach slabs for new undercrossing. (Photo Credit: Caltrans District 3)
Rebar and concrete pour for the approach slabs for new undercrossing. (Photo Credit: Caltrans District 3)

“After logging 14,000+ hours on this specific project, it is great to see it go to construction knowing that this project will directly impact safety for the community and save lives.”, as stated, Brian Krcelic, Project Engineer at Wood Rodgers.

In addition, Wood Rodgers also provided design calculations, construction drawings and technical specifications that relocated approximately 800 LF of 30” CCP and 800 LF of 36” CCP the El Dorado Irrigation District (EID). The two EID transmission mains are critical infrastructure and supply drinking water to a majority of the EID customers.  These transmission mains could not be taken out service at the same time, and the window to take them out service was limited to low demand periods of the year.  This included the installation of new transmission main isolation valves, temporary line stops for construction, reconnection of existing services and distribution pipelines and pipeline appurtenances.

There were two project challenges that were specific to the transmission mains and pipeline.

Challenge #1 | The two primary transmission mains for the entire EID service system could not be taken out of service at the same time, or during specific months of the year.

Our Solution | Wood Rodgers proposed installing line stops on each transmission main both upstream and downstream of the project limits. We then developed a construction phasing schedule that required only one transmission main to be constructed at a time so that there was uninterrupted service.

Challenge #2 | The existing pipe material was a bar-wrapped concrete cylinder pipe that is in limited use today.  EID required the same pipe material to be utilized.

Our Solution | We worked directly with pipe manufacturers to develop custom pipe connection details and pipe specifications to utilize the bar-wrapped concrete cylinder pipe.

AWWA C303 bar-wrapped concrete cylinder pipelines.
AWWA C303 bar-wrapped concrete cylinder pipelines.

“It was great to be a part of the collaborative team between Caltrans, El Dorado County, El Dorado County Transportation Commission, and the El Dorado Irrigation District to deliver this project.”, as stated Kevin Gustorf, Principal and Project Manager for pipeline design.

For additional information and updates on construction please visit www.fix50Camino.com.

We are Headed for a Drought this Summer…

It’s looking like we are staring down the barrel of a potentially significant drought this summer. Wood Rodgers, Inc. has been providing local efforts and assisting the Regional Water Authority (RWA) and Sacramento Groundwater Authority (SGA) over the past couple of decades to in their efforts to help position Sacramento area water agencies to handle drought conditions.

As some of you are aware, Folsom Lake provides the Sacramento area with the majority of its drinking water supply.  However, lake levels at Folsom Lake are not looking so good this year.  Snow pack levels that provide surface water and groundwater recharge to support a steady supply of water throughout our region has also been very low this year as well.

Luckily, surface water is not the only supply we have: groundwater plays an integral part in our overall water supply.

The efforts of RWA and SGA have created a network of agencies that have access to groundwater, surface water, or both, resulting in the construction of water supply connections between participating agencies to allow the ability to share water when needed.

This network was designed for a couple reasons, including for drought protection, or drought resiliency, but also overall groundwater management. This approach allows agencies to utilize surface water as much as possible when it is available, saving groundwater for times when it is really needed.  This is a fairly generalized description, as some agencies do pump groundwater under normal times, but the overarching management goal and objectives have largely paid off.

This approach, known as conjunctive use of groundwater and surface water, has allowed the groundwater basins under our feet locally to remain relatively full and stable exactly for times like this.

WHAT Does that “Exactly” Mean?

In summary, it’s basically an approach of maximizing the total water available in a specific region for the long-term. During wet seasons, agencies may implement and undertake an aggressive water recharge program to recharge the groundwater storage for dry years. In the Sacramento area, this occurs through a process known as in-lieu groundwater recharge (where the groundwater basin is allowed to recover while minimizing extraction).  This helps during years of drought to manage groundwater level decline. What you get is improved local water supply, reduced groundwater overdraft, improved groundwater quality, all while helping to sustain the environmental cycle.

Water Cycle Diagram
Water Cycle Diagram

Even with this “reserve”, we will still likely be going to see conservation measures enacted over the next couple months and the ask that we all take our part to conserve water.

Stay cool everyone!  Cooler than you already are!

For additional information on our regional efforts on our regional groundwater efforts, contact Sean Spaeth (sspaeth@woodrodgers.com).

Sean Spaeth, HydrogeologistSean is a Hydrogeologist with 17 years of hydrogeologic experience. His experience includes regional hydrogeologic evaluations which included geologic cross section preparation, contouring of groundwater levels to determine local and basin groundwater conditions and recharge areas, and groundwater quality assessments. Site specific water resources development projects that Sean has conducted include: test hole logging and geophysical log interpretation for over 100 test holes (up to 1,700 feet) test holes and monitoring well projects, well and aquifer testing and analysis, water quality sampling and analysis. He has also provided construction inspection/design for over 100 production wells up to 1,450 feet in depth, over 50 monitoring wells, and over 50 well rehabilitation projects.

Wood Rodgers is proud to be a part of this progressive construction approach in supporting Caltrans District 3 on the bridge replacement project over 21st Street in Sacramento, CA.

Wood Rodgers provided professional and technical engineering services consisting of Plans, Specifications, and Estimate (PS&E), which included traffic, landscape architecture, utilities, and drainage components at the undercrossing for this project.

Aerial Image of 21st St - SR99 Bridge Project
The 21st St – SR99 Bridge Project

The project replaces the 21st Avenue undercrossing where the bridge decks are in need of major rehabilitation due to the severity of the transverse and longitudinal deck cracks, concrete spalling and high corrosion from drainage runoff entering the voids inside the concrete deck structures and surface.

“Some of the challenges we faced were developing various traffic handling alternatives that would keep the freeway open. These alternatives included reconstructing the bridge in two or three stages over a longer period of time rather than one weekend. These challenges ultimately led to the decision to completely close the freeway for one long weekend. The decision to close the freeway required coordination with Caltrans and the City of Sacramento. The length of the full freeway closure required meetings with Caltrans DES structural engineers where an hour-by-hour construction schedule was prepared to determine the duration of the closure. We prepared a traffic study for the City of Sacramento to show the redistribution of traffic and impacts to the local transportation system. Planning the timing of the closure took into account local community events, the State Fair, holiday weekends, and school hours. The project included preparing traffic handling plans, motorist information plans, construction area sign plans, and detour plans for motorists, transit, and pedestrians on the local roads,”, as summarized by Luke Fuson, who was the Project Engineer for this project.

On June 11th to June 16th, northbound and southbound lanes on State Route 99 from 47th Avenue to US 50 connector will be closed as construction crews work around the clock to replace the bridge.  Wood Rodgers was also involved with designing the stage construction, detours, and performed all of the traffic modelling and local coordination involved in the full closure strategy.

“This is the first full freeway closure that Caltrans District 3 has managed. It is exciting to be a part of this advanced approach with Caltrans.”, stated Mark Rayback, President at Wood Rodgers.

Please plan, accordingly, for closure of State Route 99 from June 11th to June 16th.

For more information | https://dot.ca.gov/caltrans-near-me/district-3/d3-news/d3-news-release-21-151

Wood Rodgers is pleased to announce the promotion of Satish Kumar, PE to Associate. Satish is a water resources engineer with an emphasis on hydrologic and hydraulic modeling. He has over 10 years of experience in planning, analysis and design of flood control facilities, pump stations, levees, water quality infrastructure, and storm collection systems. Satish currently manages complex water resources projects for both public and private sector clients in the Bay Area.

Satish Kumar Promotion at Wood Rodgers
Satish Kumar, PE manages complex water resources projects for both public and private sector clients in the Bay Area.

In this current virtual environment, we put together a Q&A for everyone to get to know more about Satish.

Q&A with Satish Kumar, PE

How did you start working at Wood Rodgers?

I learned about Wood Rodgers while interning for HDR and working on the FloodSAFE CA project. My PM (Chris Ferrari) said WR is a rad place to work. I applied after attending a career fair and the rest is history.

In your opinion, what differentiates Wood Rodgers from our competitors?

Our people and culture. I swear I have more perks than some of my friends at startups.

How have you grown in your career since starting?

I have grown in many ways…getting a PE license, speaking and participating at local and international conferences, becoming a project manager, being promoted to Associate…even my golf game has improved a lot since joining WR 🙂

What is your management style, and how does that contribute to high performing team or a better product for our clients?

I would say I use a collaborative approach and also try to mentor and empower others. Providing context to complex problems, listening, and promoting innovation is important. This style helps focus effort and enables creative thinking to optimize solutions for project needs.

In your new position as Associate, what are your future or immediate goals?

An immediate goal of mine is to continue improving my project management and office management. A long term goal of mine is to continue to grow our Oakland and Bay Area services, reputation, and list of happy clients.

What is an important value that has led you to where you are now?

Only one? How about honesty, communication, innovation, and commitment. Honesty and communication are crucial as a project manager when difficult situations arise that may alter the trajectory or goals of the project. Innovation is part of our DNA at Wood Rodgers and has sets us apart from other firms, we are never afraid to do the right thing. And commitment to the successes of our clients, staff and company is a value I think Wood Rodgers lives by.

What advice would you give to your past self when you were just starting out in your career?

Be patient, try a little bit of everything, and participate in lots of young engineer groups. It is important to explore all parts of the business to gain a holistic understanding of what we do.

What is the best part about working with the Oakland team?

Our team rocks. It’s fun, engaging, caring and rewarding. The food in the office isn’t bad either.

Which projects are you most proud of working on, and why?

Alameda County Flood Control Drainage Master Plans – the detail we put into these studies was a game changer, and the workflows and products developed for the projects set them apart from other master plans. ACFC has been so willing to innovate tools and products with us, and to challenge the way things are to get to how they should be.

Are you involved in any engineering organizations or groups within Wood Rodgers?

FMA, ASCE, STEAM Team, and Chi Epsilon

 

Wood Rodgers is proud to recognize the contributions of Satish through his promotion to Associate. For more stories like this, follow Satish and Wood Rodgers on LinkedIn.

Wood Rodgers is pleased to announce the promotion of Josh Sobolew, PG to Associate. Josh is a California licensed Professional Geologist with 9 years of experience providing hydrogeologic consulting services, designing and managing groundwater resource projects. Josh has provided field inspection and construction management during well rehabilitations and drilling and construction of large municipal water supply wells, monitoring wells, exploratory boreholes, well abandonments, and recharge programs.

Promotion of Josh Sobolew PG, Wood Rodgers
Wood Rodgers is pleased announce the promotion of Josh Sobolew, PG to Associate in our San Dimas office.

In this current virtual environment, we put together a Q&A for everyone to get to know more about Josh.

Q&A with Josh Sobolew, PG

How did you start working at Wood Rodgers?

I heard about Wood Rodgers pursuing the southern California hydrogeology industry and recognized that a startup office would advance my career. Here I am almost six years later and couldn’t be happier with how much my career has grown from this opportunity.

In your opinion, what differentiates Wood Rodgers from our competitors?

Wood Rodgers has many characteristics that distinguish themselves from others and the big three to me are: 1) opportunity and path to ownership, 2) treating the office environment as a family friendly atmosphere, and 3) taking care of the “little people,” which says a lot about a company.

How have you grown in your career since starting?

I was hired on as staff geologist in 2015 primarily providing drilling and construction oversight, and was one of the first employees in the San Dimas office. The San Dimas office had a lot of ups and downs the past six years, and helping stabilize the office is an accomplishment in itself. My roles have changed from a staff geologist, to a senior staff geologist, and now to an office lead “associate geologist.” I obtained my Professional Geologist License in January 2020.

What is your management style, and how does that contribute to high performing team or a better product for our clients?

My management style tries to recognize and utilize individual staff’s strengths and weaknesses, allows input from each team member, avoid overpromising on deliverables with clients, and being transparent with team members.

In your new position as Associate, what are your future or immediate goals?

My future goals will be obtaining my Certified Hydrogeologist License, help root the San Dimas office even further in our industry, and bring other talent and disciplines into the San Dimas office.

What is an important value that has led you to where you are now?

My most important values have been: work hard, be honest and humble with yourself, always have an open mindset, and treat others with respect.

What advice would you give to your past self when you were just starting out in your career?

Enjoy and celebrate the highs, and stay strong and focused during the lows.

What is the best part about working with the San Dimas office?

The best part about working with our office is that we are all aspiring to help one another grow into more prominent roles in our industry and have the same common goal of growing the Wood Rodgers name in the hydrogeology industry.

Which projects are you most proud of working on, and why?

I am most proud of the Golden State Water Company Mountain View Well No. 5 project, which was my first project through its entirety from a marketing and design role. I helped identify the upcoming opportunity, wrote the proposal, managed and designed the project. The end result was a highly productive well that avoided shallow contaminants, met all state drinking water requirements, was designed against drought conditions, and was constructed to last for over 50 years.

Are you involved in any engineering organizations or groups within Wood Rodgers?

I am member with American Water Works Association (AWWA), Central Basin Water Association, Southern California Water Utilities Association, and Groundwater Resources Association (GRA). I have presented at AWWA twice with topics on “Design Considerations for Replacement Municipal Wells” and “Implementation of a Strategic Well Rehabilitation Program.”

 

Wood Rodgers is proud to recognize the contributions of Josh through his promotion to Associate. For more stories like this, follow Josh and Wood Rodgers on LinkedIn.

Wood Rodgers is excited to announce the promotion of Chuck Hilliard, PE to Associate. Chuck is a licensed Professional Engineer in California, with over 7 years of experience in many aspects of civil infrastructure design, with an emphasis in water resources. His experience includes the preparation of feasibility studies, performing alternatives analysis, design of civil infrastructure projects, plan set drafting and design, cost estimation, and supporting projects in the construction phase.

Wood Rodgers is pleased announce the promotion of Chuck Hilliard, PE to Associate in our Sacramento office.
Wood Rodgers is pleased announce the promotion of Chuck Hilliard, PE to Associate in our Sacramento office.

In this current virtual environment, we put together a Q&A for everyone to get to know more about Chuck.

Q&A with Chuck Hilliard, PE

How did you start working at Wood Rodgers?

I started working at Wood Rodgers in September of 2014 after being recruited by Jesse Patchett, whom I had worked with previously.  I was actually hired to work on the land development side but because I had a background in water resources from my previous job and I already had a working relationship with Jesse, I was loaned to the Water Resources Department to help out for a short time. Obviously that loan wound up being of a more permanent nature than originally expected but I think it has worked out well.

In your opinion, what differentiates Wood Rodgers from our competitors?

Two things come to mind when I think about what makes Wood Rodgers different from other engineering companies.

The first is that while it is common for a company to claim that they put their employees first, it is far less common that they actually practice what they preach. This is where Wood Rodgers is different, as management does genuinely care about the employees. This shows through in many different ways and I think it obvious to all that work here.

The second thing is the way that Wood Rodgers management has created a work environment that encourages employees to not be afraid to take on new challenges. This leads to not only accelerated staff growth, but also allows for innovative ideas to thrive, which is of course part of our brand.

How have you grown in your career since starting?

I started at Wood Rodgers with just one year of experience, so there has been a lot of growth in the last 6-1/2 years. I earned my Professional Engineers license in 2017 and was promoted to Civil Engineer (from Assistant Engineer). Shortly after that, I began to take on some project management duties for small projects and as my experience grew, I worked on larger projects that involved managing staff. At the end of 2020 I was promoted to Associate Engineer and have continued managing projects and staff.

What is your management style, and how does that contribute to high performing team or a better product for our clients?

A collaborative approach works best for the type of projects I work on.  I want everyone that I work with to know the underlying project goals so that they understand the “why” of what we are working toward. It has been my experience that this leads to higher performance and an overall better work product, because better decisions are made throughout the design process when everyone understands the ultimate goals.

In your new position as Associate, what are your future or immediate goals?

My immediate goals are to continue growing my experience as a manager of both projects and staff.

What is an important value that has led you to where you are now?

The two most important values to me are having a good work ethic and taking pride in your work.  In other words, that means “do the work” and “do it well”. I think if someone is able to do both of those things, success will always follow.

What advice would you give to your past self when you were just starting out in your career?

I would advise myself to not be hesitant about working on projects that involve facets that I may not have had any experience with. An engineering career is filled with new experiences and having to learn on the fly, so it is better to get used to that as soon as you can.

What is the best part about working with your office, department, or team?

The best part about working in my department is that everyone is always willing to help one another. With the diversity of experience and knowledge contained within that department, one can always someone to provide guidance and help answer questions.

Which projects are you most proud of working on, and why?

If I had to choose one, it would have to the Lookout Slough Restoration Project.  This was a unique project that incorporated a lot of other disciplines that we don’t usually work with. It also required us to create new workflows to accommodate the size of the project and to be able to share information with the entire project team. It was challenging but we wound up with a great product and some valuable experience.

 

Wood Rodgers is proud to recognize the contributions of Chuck through his promotion to Associate. For more stories like this, follow Wood Rodgers on LinkedIn.

 

Wood Rodgers is excited to announce the promotion of Kevin Almeter, PLS, to Principal Land Surveyor. Kevin has been in the surveying field for over 24 years, managing survey and mapping projects for both private and public sector clients. He is skilled in easement and right-of-way research, preparing boundary and topographic maps, ALTA surveys, utility surveys, and environmental surveys. Kevin has extensive field and office experience in construction staking, boundary surveys and control surveys.

Congratulations to Kevin Almeter, PLS, on being promoted to Principal Land Surveyor at Wood Rodgers.

Kevin is currently leading the survey department in the Wood Rodgers’ Reno office. Check out our recent Q&A to get to know a little more about Kevin!

Q&A with Kevin Almeter, PLS, Principal Land Surveyor

How did you start working at Wood Rodgers?

I met up for lunch with an old co-worker from a previous firm that was working for Wood Rodgers at the time and was offered a job. After stopping in the next day and meeting the survey staff it seemed like a place I wanted to work at … best career decision I have made!

In your opinion, what differentiates Wood Rodgers from our competitors?

The family feel, best staff in the business, company events, dedication to staying on the forefront of technology, and the desire to promote from within sets Wood Rodgers apart.

How have you grown in your career since starting at Wood Rodgers?

I started at Wood Rodgers as survey party chief in the field while I was studying for licensure. I was given an opportunity to move into the office to work in the mapping department. Then the company held true to desire to promote from within and I worked my up from mapping manager, to associate survey department manager, and finally to a principal. It is an honor to be a principal in such a great company.

What is your management style, and how does that contribute to high performing team or a better product for our clients?

Be a good mentor and let your team do what they are great at doing. I like to make sure that everyone in the survey department has educational opportunities for continuing to advance their skillsets. I feel like providing opportunities for team members to help in the management of our survey projects and communicate with our clients helps grow their own careers and puts a lot of smart minds together to help address our client’s needs.

In your new position as Principal, what are your immediate goals?

To make sure we continue with our great company culture and provide our staff with the same opportunities for career growth that I was provided.

What is an important value that has led you to where you are now?

To get involved with as much as you can in all aspects of Wood Rodgers, our clients and our professional associations.

What advice would you give to your past self when you were just starting out in your career?

Buy a cool 4×4 van, quit your day job… and just be a ski bum.

What is the best part about working with your department?

The comradery and laughs that come with working with great co-workers and clients.

Which projects are you most proud of working on, and why?

All of them! Each project and client is unique and so much can be learned from all of them.

Are you involved in any organizations outside of work?

I have been involved with the Nevada Association of Land Surveyors from the day I get licensed, and have served on the NALS board for quite a few years. I also have been mentoring Great Basin College survey students with field survey labs for the past couple of years.

 

Wood Rodgers is proud to recognize the contributions of Kevin Almeter through his promotion to Principal. For more on Kevin, follow him on LinkedIn.

Wood Rodgers is excited to announce the promotion of Mike Albrecht to Principal of Corporate Technology! Mike is a retired Naval Officer who specialized in Information Technology. His technical leadership spans more than 22 years with proven results working with executive leaders in both the civilian and military sectors.

Mike Albrecht promotion at Wood Rodgers
Congratulations to Mike Albrecht on being promoted to Principal of Corporate Technology at Wood Rodgers.

Mike’s vast experience with complex computer networks and geospatial systems that supported the Naval Intelligence community brings a fresh perspective that combines high availability operations to the demanding requirements of the AEC networks he oversees at Wood Rodgers. Check out our recent Q&A to get to know a little more about Mike!

Q&A with Mike Albrecht, Principal of Corporate Technology

How did you start working at Wood Rodgers?

Two years ago, I was transitioning after 21 years of Naval service where I worked in IT as an Officer in locations around the world and at sea on various Naval ships. I found that while applying and interviewing for a variety of positions, that there was some bias towards the cultural perceptions of someone coming from the military to a civilian company and how many believed the fit would be an issue.

This was not the case with Wood Rodgers as they really took the time to learn who I was, what my experience and leadership personality were and how both the company’s employees and myself could benefit each other. It was incredibly refreshing and genuine.

What occurred was the leadership at Wood Rodgers was able to see that I was a dedicated and innovative leader who puts others before himself, just as I was taught in the Navy. And what I learned was that Wood Rodgers was a welcoming organization full of diversity, integrity, and a true work hard / play hard mentality that I was seeking. I was tasked with leading a group of exceptional IT professionals in an effort to modernize the technological solutions we provide to our engineers and this is exactly what we have been doing since.

In your opinion, what differentiates Wood Rodgers from our competitors?

Easily, it’s our people above everything else. I can say that we invest in our people and enable them to do the best work they can for the company. Our focus when hiring is to find the right person for the needs we have and will fit with our culture. Once we find that person, we do what we need to in order to bring them onboard, and then get out of their way and let them do exactly what we brought them to the team to accomplish.

This combined with our deep rooted culture of working hard and playing hard make us standout compared to those stuffy, suit and tie, micro-managed engineering firms most of us envision. It’s shorts and flip flops on Aloha Friday, with a suit behind the door for when it’s needed at county offices or public hearings. As leaders, we never make a company decision without considering how it will impact our culture and be perceived by our employees. If it’s a disruption to these core values, then it doesn’t happen. Happy employees are productive employees!

How have you grown in your career since starting at Wood Rodgers?

I started out as an Associate at Wood Rodgers and then two years later was lucky enough to be given a promotion to Principal. I’m responsible for the IT software and hardware for all eight of our office locations, plus the cloud and ensuring all of these locations can communicate, have business continuity in place, and security.

What is your management style, and how does that contribute to high performing team or a better product for our clients?

In my experience and training, you have to become more than one type of leader to get the most out of your people or to achieve different business goals. To nail it down however, I would say that I’m a mix of a Servant Leader and Thought Leader. I tell my team that I’m there to work for them, to provide guidance, remove barriers, be their champion for initiatives and shield them from distractions that could impede their progress.

As a thought leader, I’m focused on strategy and planning for the company and each office. I’ve implemented a strategic plan for technology that we use as a guideline for any new technology initiatives and a supporting document for planning when it comes to security and policy. This information is shared with company and posted on our internal website for reference, and I provide updates to our progress to the Board of Directors and show how these updates relate to the overall IT strategic plan and in turn, the company’s strategic goals.

In your new position as Principal, what are your immediate goals?

In the immediate future, it’s continue to do what I have been doing. It’s these actions that led to my selection and being offered the promotion to Principal, so the worst thing I could do is rock the boat and change it up. My plans and strategy are focused on multi-year goals, so we need to continue to stay focused on the finish line and evaluate how effective those changes are. That’s not to say I don’t have a few ideas on some new business objectives, but those are in the initial stages of evaluation before they become goals. Vague enough? Lol.

What is an important value that has led you to where you are now?

Without question, the most important value I believe that anyone possesses is integrity. Integrity has helped me become the “go to” person throughout my professional life in both the military and now with Wood Rodgers. Open and honest conversations, support, and accurate reporting is key to making the right decisions in business and with day-to-day operations and if you don’t have integrity, you won’t have any believers in you. It’s such an important quality that takes time to gain and only a single instance to lose, which is why it’s so precious. You have to mean what you say, say what you mean, and never ask anyone to do anything that you yourself would not be willing to do.

What advice would you give to your past self when you were just starting out in your career?

I feel very fortunate in my development as a junior technician and working my way up the ladder to now being the Principal in charge of IT for such a fantastic company. I’ve learned many lessons along the way, and the biggest take away is that it’s important for you to stay the course the led to your promotions and acknowledgements of your hard work.

When you are promoted, or given a raise, or praise, it’s because of the recognition of the work you have been doing. I understand how one may feel they need to make adjustments and do something else to continue the trend, but I’ve found that the most important thing is to stay focused on what you were just recognized for. If anything, do it better than before, but not change the focus. If you want to add a new project or business line, ok, but do it systematically and with planning. Recognition doesn’t need to be followed by a big splash of something new. Stay the course, be efficient, evaluate your outcomes, and build a stronger team.

What is the best part about working with the Technology Group?

I love working with the technology group as a whole. We integrate with our CAD, GIS, and UAS team on a daily basis to discuss the differing projects we all have going on and help identify where we need to assist each other. It’s become a great daily function for us and brings about transparency that enables us to be more collaborative. It’s amazing to see all the different projects and ideas we all have on how we can enable our users to beat out our competition and provide additional tools or products by leveraging our technology innovations. We’re a company of around 300 employees, but our ideas are BIG and provide services and tools that large companies are unable to. Seeing these initiatives come together as a group is just awesome.

Which projects are you most proud of working on, and why?

Certainly the cloud first strategy we implemented is a huge project that is complex and lengthy. This is the one that enabled us to be so successful during the pandemic as our ability to bring the user to the data regardless of their physical location was paramount to providing our engineers the tools they needed to do the great work they do day in and day out. This took some serious collaboration, training, and dedication to the process and technology and in the end, it worked exceptionally well for us. Our engineering staff was able to work from home just as if they were in the office, and in some instances, BETTER than in the office.

I’m incredibly proud of the technology team’s dedicated work to provide these capabilities to our engineers. Without it, we would have been hindered in our ability to produce efficient products for our clients due to technology constraints. Our engineers at Wood Rodgers are some of the best of the best and they deserve the top of the line technology so they can work their magic and standout to our competitors. As the pandemic began, this is exactly what we were able to do.

Are you involved in any groups within Wood Rodgers or outside of work?

I have participated in the Professional Development Group (PDG) before, and I plan on joining the STEAM Team this year. My other organizational focuses are external to Wood Rodgers that include veteran support groups, primarily on assisting veterans find employment as they transition to civilian life.

 

Wood Rodgers is proud to recognize the contributions of Mike Albrecht through his promotion to Principal. For more on Mike, follow him on LinkedIn.

Please join Wood Rodgers is congratulating Jesse Patchett, PE, CFM in his promotion to Principal Civil Engineer! Jesse is a native Las Vegan and University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) alumni with 17 years of professional engineering experience. Jesse’s project experience ranges from commercial and residential land development projects, FEMA floodplain analysis, levee projects, water and wastewater treatment projects, and municipal infrastructure projects.

Jesse Patchett promoted to Principal in Wood Rodgers Las Vegas
Congratulations to Jesse Patchett, PE, CFM on being promoted to Principal in our Las Vegas region.

Jesse is currently leading the land development team in the Wood Rodgers’ Las Vegas office. In this current virtual environment, we put together a Q&A for everyone to get to know more about Jesse.

Q&A with Jesse Patchett, PE, CFM:

How did you start working at Wood Rodgers?

This is a great story. But it shouldn’t be shared publicly. :o)

In your opinion, what differentiates Wood Rodgers from our competitors?

We have a pool table, a fully stocked beer fridge, and allow flexible work schedules for our team. That’s pretty unique. A bunch of companies say “work hard, play hard” or “work-life balance”, but Wood Rodgers actually embraces these as being integral to our culture.

How have you grown in your career since starting at Wood Rodgers?

I joined Wood Rodgers as a PM in the Sacramento Water Resources group, and was later given an opportunity to help lead and grow the Las Vegas office.

What is your management style, and how does that contribute to high performing team or a better product for our clients?

My team would be much better to ask, but they say that I am direct, I set clear expectations, I lead by example, delegate and empower them, am a good mentor, and am always willing to listen to and answer questions.

In your new position as Principal, what are your future or immediate goals?

Keep doing what we are doing: growing the office, mentoring staff, and having fun doing it.

What is an important value that has led you to where you are now?

There are several. The first would be that “The reward for good work, is more work.” But beyond that, sharing my clients’ sense of urgency to get a project permitted, providing responsive service & communication to my clients, and doing what I say I will do have helped me grow as a professional.

What advice would you give to your past self when you were just starting out in your career?

I’ve had a habit of letting vacation time build up over the years. I have come to realize that vacation time allows much needed time to recharge and refocus, which is a key ingredient to being a top performer. To that end, I would tell my younger me to use and enjoy earned vacation time regularly.

What is the best part about working with your team in the Las Vegas office?

My amazing team is the best part of working at Wood Rodgers! Specifically, the office comradery we have is great. I think we all genuinely enjoy working together as a team.

Which projects are you most proud of working on, and why?

I’m proud of all our projects. We are doing really good work for our clients.

Are you involved in any organizations outside of work?

When I’m not in the office, or playing outside, I’m involved with a local non-profit called Los Vaqueros that aids disadvantaged youth. We have done several projects for local elementary schools, and St. Jude’s Ranch in Boulder City.

 

Wood Rodgers is proud to recognize the contributions of Jesse Patchett through his promotion to Principal. For more on Jesse, follow him on LinkedIn.

National Engineers Week calls attention to the contributions to society that engineers make. The week is dedicated to ensuring a diverse future engineering workforce by emphasizing the importance of learning math, science, and technical skills. For example, Thursday, February 25th, was Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, a worldwide campaign to engage girls in engineering.

On our blog and social media this week, Wood Rodgers showcased a few wonderful examples that our employees are setting on a daily basis to help inspire the next generation of engineers. We sat down with employees ranging from our company President to a newly registered Professional Engineer and asked them about insights to success in the STEAM field.

Q&A WITH MARK RAYBACK, PE

What inspired you to become an engineer?

In high school we had to take a career proficiency exam to help you determine your ideal college major and career.  Based upon the test, I was best suited for a career in cosmetology.  Once I realized what that job actually was I figured there may be other options for me to pursue.  Math and science classes had always been relatively easy for me so I chose engineering as my major instead.

What is the most interesting or challenging part of being an engineer?

I believe that the most challenging aspect of engineering is explaining the complexities and technicalities of what we do to people with little or no technical background or interests.  The concepts that we take for granted are completely foreign to a lot of people we deal with and learning how to tailor that messaging is an art form.  In many instances, the people we need to explain and convince are the decision makers or funders of our projects.  Learning to be successful in this communication is the difference between getting a project or an idea approved or denied.

In looking back, what advice would you give to those who are considering to be an engineer?

I have a couple.  1) good old fashioned common sense is truly a gift; use it and 2) don’t be afraid to make mistakes, but learn from them when you do (because you will) so you don’t make that mistake again.

Q&A WITH KATIE MASON, PE

What inspired you to become an engineer?

My dad is a contractor and I grew up drawing house footprints on graph paper and dreaming of making it a reality. He never cared if his small daughter was wearing a dress to the construction site, he just wanted me to be there to experience what he does. Being raised in the design environment naturally inspired me to take the engineering career path.

What is the most interesting or challenging part of being an engineer?

As a student, engineering school seemed so daunting and difficult. Now that I have spent a few years in the field it is interesting that, in the right work environment, you can learn on the job so much more efficiently and quickly from your peers.

In looking back, what advice would you give to those who are considering to be an engineer?

Engineering is a rewarding career with tangible results. It may be a difficult educational experience for some, but the success of your future projects are worth the hard work.

Q&A WITH SHAWNEE DUNAGAN, PE

What inspired you to become an engineer?

My dad is an engineer as well and growing up I would use his scrap paper from his structural plans to draw and color on, to “make better”.  When I was in high school I loved Physics, but hated Calculus and had originally really want to become a teacher like my mom.  My dad, being an engineer, encouraged me to tour the College of Engineering before I finalized my major choice.  One of the places I toured was the Water Lab and I was immediately drawn to the various contraptions of PVC pipes throughout the lab.  Students were actively turning on and off valves, measuring water and trying to measure tubes taped up the wall.  This was one of the first times I got to see a side of engineering besides the paper version I had seen to that date.  Ultimately I chose to study Civil Engineering at UNR and wouldn’t go back.

What is the most interesting or challenging part of being an engineer?

The problem solving is both the most interesting and challenging part of being an engineer.  To me the problem solving is like a giant puzzle, but it is not a puzzle with one solution.  There can be multiple answers, but also the possibility to come up with an out of the box, creative solution that maybe no one has thought of before.

In looking back, what advice would you give to those who are considering to be an engineer?

Do not be afraid to take courses outside of engineering.  I think that there are lots of skills that are beneficial to have that are not explored in most engineering programs.  It is worth the time to take a business or education class.  I took courses in Secondary Education at the Master’s Level where I learned to write High School Lesson Plans and get in class time with students.  This allowed me to work on my public speaking skills, but more importantly learning to talk and engage with other individuals who are not Engineer’s.

Q&A WITH KATIE WRIGHTSON, PE

What inspired you to become an engineer?

When I was young, I used to love building useful things for my dolls – places for them to live and store their very large wardrobes, etc.  As I went through school, I had a handful of math and science teachers that believed in me and reinforced my confidence in my competence in these subjects.  My dad is also an engineer, but I never really knew what that meant until it came time to apply to college (and even then it was a grey area).  Ultimately, when it came time to choose a major, I wanted something that would incorporate my interest in math and science, and prepare me for a good, stable job right out of undergrad.

What is the most interesting or challenging part of being an engineer?

The most interesting part for me is the variance from project to project.  No two projects are the same, each project and piece of land comes with different boundary conditions, landowners, clients, jurisdictions, goals, and local community.  When it comes time to construct, the problems encountered along the way are never the same as the last project (at least, one would certainly hope!)  The most challenging part, however, is probably working with many different personality types.

In looking back, what advice would you give to those who are considering to be an engineer?

My number one piece of advice: We are problem-solvers, so, we must never present a problem without also presenting a possible solution (or two or three).  This is something we can apply to all areas of our lives, not just to our work.  You can practice this now as you’re considering engineering! I would also pass on two of the best pieces of advice I’ve received in my career:

1) Nothing is personal.  As engineers, we work on teams that include stakeholders with varying interests and priorities that do not always align perfectly with our own.  Our job is to provide a technically sound product that will serve and do no harm to the public at an economically feasible cost.  It can be easy to internalize critiques and criticisms along the way, and we must keep the end goal in mind to avoid getting bogged down by some of those tricky personalities.

2) There is always more work to do.  You’re never going to be completely caught up, and there will always be lingering items on your to-do list, emails in your inbox.  Prioritize, regroup, and re-prioritize as necessary, but don’t expect to please everyone all the time.

Q&A WITH JUDD GOODMAN, PE

What inspired you to become an engineer?

In high school I enjoyed physics, was good at math, and wanted to do something practical and related to the outdoors.

What is the most interesting or challenging part of being an engineer?

Solving difficult problems with others.

In looking back, what advice would you give to those who are considering to be an engineer?

Talk to people who are engineers. Try out your interests early. Circle what you like and cross out what you don’t, but don’t be afraid of trying new things.

 

And that’s a wrap for National Engineers Week 2021! We hope you enjoyed the features throughout the week. If you missed them, you can check them out on our Instagram story highlight for National Engineers Week at @woodrodgersinc