Wood Rodgers Recruiting Heads to College Campuses

Note: This article was written by Jonathan Brose, the Corporate Recruiter at Wood Rodgers. His role is to provide recruiting for the entire company, servicing our 8 office locations throughout California and Nevada.


As the Corporate Recruiter at Wood Rodgers, I am looking forward to visiting college campuses this upcoming Spring 2020. Whether you are a current college student, recent graduate, or seasoned professional, career fairs are a great opportunity to learn about careers at Wood Rodgers in a face-to-face setting.

Here is my upcoming schedule that I will be visiting career fairs on college campuses:

University of Reno, Nevada – Thursday, February 20th

California State University, Sacramento – Friday, February 28th

University of the Pacific, Stockton Campus – Tuesday, March 24th

Our booth will be easy to find-  just keep your eyes out for punk-rock themed posters, prize wheel, Wood Rodgers branding, and of course welcoming smiles from our team!

Whether you are a current college student, recent graduate, or seasoned professional, come talk to us at the upcoming career fairs!

Throughout my career, I’ve had the privilege to attend many career fairs on behalf of companies. In this article, I will be sharing advice for best practices for students and recent graduates to approach recruiters, such as myself.

Dress to Impress

Although Wood Rodgers is famous among engineers for our casual dress code, it never hurts to dress your best when you’re introducing yourself for a job. For career fairs, I’d recommend minimally dressing in business casual (Khakis, button-up shirt, etc.) – but don’t be afraid to attend in full business attire.  As they say, dress for the job you want!

For career fairs, we’d recommend (at minimum) dressing in business casual – but don’t hesitate to add a Wood Rodgers temporary tattoo to your wardrobe.

Prior Research about the Firm

Every year Wood Rodgers receives many applications for internships, which we carefully consider. The best applicants put a little extra effort in with getting to know the firm and the engineering services we offer.  Our website is full of information on our projects, services, locations and open careers.

Be ready to talk about yourself as well.  We want to know what areas of engineering interest you the most, and this provides a great starting point on where we could fit you within our organization.   If you have multiple areas of interest, don’t be afraid to share – many of our greatest engineers started in one discipline and later found their long-term focus in another area.  Doing a bit of research on what services Wood Rodgers offers, matched with what disciplines interest you will provide an easy conversation and clear path to where we could place you in an internship.

We want to know what areas of engineering interest you the most, and this provides a great starting point to talk about where we could fit you within our organization.

Thoughtful Questions to Ask:

Recruiters truly enjoy great questions from candidates.  We also strive to be subject matter experts in our organization’s hiring operations, practices and employee performance.  Use this as an opportunity to pick our brains – you can learn an incredible amount from a recruiter.  Asking questions also shows recruiters you are engaged, curious, ambitious and ready to learn.  A few examples of good questions include:

-What is the process for getting an internship with your firm?

-What will I do during my internship with your firm? What will I learn?

-What options do you offer once the internship is complete?

BIG Bonus question:

Can you think of any recent success stories of individuals whom started as Interns and have grown within your organization? I call this a BIG bonus question because you can get insight into what’s going on inside the firm.  Recruiters enjoy bragging about how well employees grow inside their organization.  It could be a red flag if an employer cannot think at least one recent success story.

A Few Final Tips:

-Starting with a good handshake and direct eye contact with a recruiter provides a positive, comfortable first impression.

-Look at company’s online job board before the career fair to see what they need most. Apply your experience and interest to those areas.

-Pick the recruiter’s brain on career progression. For instance, becoming a Principal at Wood Rodgers is highly prestigious, yet completely obtainable.  Find out what goals are out there and how to obtain them.  As the saying goes “you won’t hit a target you can’t see.”

-Have fun! Career fairs are full of people, activities, interviews, and an overload of information, which can be intimidating. Remember, the purpose of the fair is to get you closer to your career goals as you transition from school.  This is a fun and exciting time to start seeing the fruits of your labor.  Take inventory that this is a very positive time in your life, and take a moment to enjoy the prospect of so many opportunities!

Wood Rodgers is looking forward to attending the upcoming career fairs at the University of Nevada, Reno, the University of the Pacific, Stockton Campus, and California State University, Sacramento. Send me a message on LinkedIn to let me know if you will be attending any of these upcoming events.

Theresa Gaughan Promoted to Principal at Wood Rodgers

Sacramento, CA — January 31, 2020 — Wood Rodgers is pleased to announce the promotion of Theresa Gaughan to Principal, effective January 2020. Theresa has over 15 years of experience in Human Resources (HR), and leads programs which create an employee-oriented, high performance culture. At Wood Rodgers, Theresa oversees the Human Resources Department, which includes all facets of HR (recruiting, retention, performance management, benefits and compensation). Outside of work, Theresa is applying for her novice racing license this February, as well as restoring her dad’s 1968 912 Porsche.

For Theresa, joining Wood Rodgers almost didn’t happen. The first time she applied, she didn’t finish the application because the employment website was a bit convoluted. A week later, she came across the job posting again, but decided to go straight to the company website and apply there. After she submitted her application, Theresa was invited to the Sacramento office for an in-person interview.

Wood Rodgers is pleased to announce the promotion of Theresa Gaughan to Principal, effective January 2020.

“When I left the interview that day, I thought ‘this is where I want to work.’ I look back on that and can’t believe that I almost didn’t apply,” Theresa commented.

Theresa’s experience with the hiring process from the candidate’s perspective gave her insight into how it could be improved. After joining the HR team at Wood Rodgers, Theresa worked to strategically update many of the hiring processes. For example, all Wood Rodgers offers are now signed electronically, and HR collaborates with the Corporate Communications department to maximize their social media presence. In addition, Theresa tackled projects to improve on-boarding, wellness, internal communications, digital hiring practices, and community action efforts at Wood Rodgers.

Performance Reviews, Company Intranet, and Be Well 2020 Initiative

In April 2018, Theresa implemented the launch of a cloud-based performance management system within Wood Rodgers. The goal of the system was to improve annual reviews, making the experience more beneficial for employees and managers alike. In addition, the online process ensures that reviews happen on-time annually for every employee at the company.

“Nobody likes reviews. Nobody, not even HR,” Theresa quipped. “However, they are still very valuable and worth the effort. The key is creating an easy process, so my goal was to move them to an online system, simplify the form, and keep them meaningful.  I don’t know if anyone likes them any more or less, but they are getting them done in a timely manner now!”

In 2019, Theresa led the team effort to innovate Woodnet, the company’s intranet. As a result of the project, Woodnet became an interactive, online platform for employees at Wood Rodgers to increase communication and collaboration. In June of 2019, Zweig Group announced Woodnet as the First Place recipient for their Marketing Excellence Awards’ Internal Marketing Campaign category.

“I loved this project! I’m most proud of how cool it turned out – it exceeded my expectations. We had some very talented technology people work on it and they took a basic layout and design and made it into a functional, engaging intranet site.  I felt like we renovated an old house into a modern, upscale space,” Theresa said.

In 2020, Theresa, with the help of a small committee, launched the latest company-wide project, the Be Well 2020 Initiative. Each month, different wellness themes are planned for employees. The initiative includes health information, outdoor activities, and events that bring people together. For example, January 2020 is focused on healthy weight.

The Be Well 2020 Initiative aims to support overall wellness for Wood Rodgers employees throughout the year.

“Each of us is more than just the person we see at work,” explained Theresa. “We live complicated lives made up of fast-paced work, stress, multiple commitments, social media, and lack of time and it keeps getting worse. We felt it was important to introduce wellness as an initiative to get people thinking about the benefits of a well-rounded life: body, mind, spirit and help bring some ‘calm’ to the otherwise hectic routines.”

Wood Rodgers STEAM Team in Sacramento

Through STEAM Team, Wood Rodgers collaborates with community partners to support education initiatives in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM). In addition to launching new HR initiatives, Theresa works with STEAM Team efforts for our Sacramento office. For Theresa, supporting groups such as Sledge Hammer Graffix, Project Lifelong and the STEM Equity & Success Initiative at Sacramento City College has been a humbling and rewarding experience.

“These groups support underserved kids, teenagers, and young adults in the arts and STEM and they are the most caring, passionate people you will ever meet,” said Theresa. “They are relentless in their cause and truly grateful for the support; they are also very happy people. You see how hard they work and how these young people push through adversity to create a better life and it inspires you to do more, be more, give more.”

Representatives of Wood Rodgers STEAM Team present a donation check to Project Lifelong. Theresa Gaughan is pictured second to the right.

At Wood Rodgers, Theresa’s promotion to Principal demonstrates the importance of HR to help create and foster a great workplace for our employees. By creating great programs, building the workplace culture, and offering professional opportunities, HR initiatives prioritize our people.

“One point I’d like to make is while I’ve put in the hard work, this really is a testament to the leadership at Wood Rodgers stepping out of the status quo and elevating HR to that true business partner,” said Theresa.

Congratulations to Theresa Gaughan on her promotion to Principal. We are grateful for her contributions to the company, and pleased to celebrate her success.


For more on Theresa, please visit her LinkedIn page here.

Article written by Lexi Robertson.

Justin Rollman Promoted to Principal at Wood Rodgers

Sacramento, CA — January 23, 2020 — Wood Rodgers is pleased to announce the promotion of Justin Rollman to Principal, effective January 2020. Justin has nearly 15 years of experience in accounting at Wood Rodgers. He is in charge of all corporate accounting processes, with oversight of the financials of the company.

Justin graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he studied Business with an emphasis in Accounting and received an International Business Certificate in Economics. After finishing his degree in 2004, Justin moved to Sacramento and sought out a position at Wood Rodgers.

Justin felt that Wood Rodgers, a multidisciplinary engineering firm, offered more than a traditional role in accounting.  He was attracted to the culture of the company, including its forward thinking and ambitious leadership.  “In 2005, when I started my career at Wood Rodgers, there were no shortage of job opportunities.  However, it was immediately apparent that Wood Rodgers was unique,” stated Justin.  “After a single interview, which included an emphasis on the fully stocked kitchen, I was offered a position.  My first week ended with an incredible Open House event featuring classic cars and cigars.”

Justin attributes his longevity with the firm since 2005 to the challenges he is continually presented with and the fun community of peers.  He enjoys the company events such as baseball games, movie nights, and of course, Pizza Fridays.  You can often find Justin spending his lunch breaks working out with colleagues or even joining them for a weekend run.  “The diversity of Wood Rodgers is exceptional.  We have access to very talented individuals who each bring their own perspective to the workplace.  It goes a long way towards keeping everyone engaged and performing at a high level,” said Justin.

Justin Rollman (far left) attends a company “Hot August Nights” themed lunch in August 2019. This event was similar to the classic cars and cigars event that Justin attended during his first week of work in 2005.

Different Roles in Accounting Enabled Leadership

In the past 15 years at Wood Rodgers, Justin has worked in a variety of positions within the accounting department. Now, as Principal, Justin feels that working in different roles helped him understand the bigger picture of how the firm operates from a financial perspective.

“Over the course of my career at Wood Rodgers, I’ve worked in every accounting position, from payroll, accounts payable, collections, to billing,” said Justin. “I have also had to change offices 12 times!  Those experiences gave me a really diverse background and a good knowledge of all that the Accounting department is required to handle.”

Wood Rodgers is pleased to announce the promotion of Justin Rollman to Principal, effective January 2020.

While accounting tasks and spreadsheets have always consumed a large part of Justin’s days at Wood Rodgers, he also tackles various other issues and corporate objectives.  Earlier in his tenure, Justin was even tasked with selling the company airplane.  “Finding a buyer for an airplane during the recession was a bit like selling ice cream at the north pole, but eventually we got it done.”

Prior to his recent promotion to Principal in January 2020, Justin was promoted to Corporate Controller in March 2018. Justin’s primary responsibilities include tasks such as ensuring compliance and reporting obligations, as well as evaluating Wood Rodgers’ different departments and activities for profitability and improvement.

“One of the greatest challenges at Wood Rodgers is adapting our processes to achieve new and different objectives.  There’s always a new bright idea that the company wants to run with, and we have to figure out how to make it work within our current environment.  The company always wants to improve, so Accounting is not a stagnant department,” explained Justin.

Evolving Corporate Accounting Processes

Throughout his career, Justin has focused on evolving corporate accounting processes that affect the company as a whole.  One of his proudest accomplishments was the successful conversion of the company to BST10, an enterprise software program designed to help manage projects, resources, and accounting.

“When we did the big upgrade to BST in 2016, it gave us the capability to be more self-service oriented with project data and company financials,” Justin stated. “Our focus in Accounting really is about providing users with that capability, which in turn leads to more informed business decisions and the better financial outcomes.”

All in all, Justin attributes his success to dedication and attention to detail. “Be dedicated and don’t settle for an unfinished product,” said Justin. “It’s very important to consider the impacts of every decision.  If you really put the time and effort into your product and stay detail oriented, it speaks volumes for yourself and for the company.”

Wood Rodgers is proud to recognize the contributions of Justin Rollman through his promotion to Principal.


For more on Justin Rollman, visit his LinkedIn profile here

Article written by Lexi Robertson.


Cheng Soo Promoted to Principal at Wood Rodgers

Oakland, CA — January 16, 2020 — Wood Rodgers is pleased to announce the promotion of Cheng Soo, PE, to Principal, effective this January 2020. Cheng is a licensed Civil Engineer with over 19 years of engineering planning and design experience. As a highly skilled hydrologic and hydraulic modeler, and designer, Cheng has led the development of our Water Resources services in the Bay Area.

At the beginning of his career, Cheng decided to pursue a career in Water Resources after taking Hydrology and Hydraulics classes in college. “When I started taking those classes, I knew – that’s my passion,” said Cheng. He graduated from Montana State University, Bozeman, with a B.S. in Civil Engineering, and started his career shortly thereafter.

Expanding Water Resources Services in the Bay Area

Wood Rodgers is pleased to announce the promotion of Cheng Soo, PE, to Principal.

Cheng joined Wood Rodgers in 2000, during the early days of our expansion to the Bay Area. Originally, our presence was located within the city of San Francisco, before consolidating and moving operations to Oakland. In addition, Wood Rodgers added another branch in Pleasanton in 2017 to further grow our Bay Area offerings.

Throughout the years, the Oakland office has evolved to specialize in Water Resources projects, with a focus on urban infrastructure. “I’ve been intrigued by the challenges and also the ability to work on such a variety of projects. We’re lucky to work in the Bay Area,” Cheng continued. “There are a lot of challenging projects, mainly due to the old infrastructure, as Oakland was built over a hundred years ago.”

Passion and Attention to Detail Makes Projects Successful

A recent headshot of Cheng Soo. 

Cheng has witnessed the growth of Wood Rodgers as a company firsthand throughout the years. In Cheng’s opinion, the success of the Oakland branch of Wood Rodgers is attributed to two factors. “It’s our passion to get it right, and our attention to detail. The staff working on a project really owns it and takes pride in it. We always find a way to model or design accurately to help the client pinpoint their issue and save them cost,” explained Cheng.

Speaking of clients – Cheng said that out of many professional achievements, client recognition is the most rewarding. “Having recognition from our clients makes me feel the most accomplished. It’s important that we keep getting contracts because clients trust us and we’re doing good work.”

For Cheng, there are two values that he’s implemented into his career that led him to where he is now. “Passion and attention to detail,” he said. “Passion makes you excel at what you do, and makes you love the work you do. Attention to detail makes sure the project goes out the door with the highest quality possible. We triple check our work, both so we can trust it, and so our client can trust it as well.”

Please be sure to offer congratulations to Cheng Soo – we are very grateful for his service to the company over the last 19 + years!


For more information on Cheng Soo, follow him on LinkedIn here.

Article written by Lexi Robertson.

San Diego Office Celebrates One Year of Operations

San Diego, CA – January 7, 2020 – Today, Wood Rodgers celebrates the first birthday of our San Diego office. Over the past year, our operations in San Diego have grown significantly, both with the addition of new team members and new projects.

Our San Diego office is led and managed by Kevin Gustorf. Kevin joined Wood Rodgers (Sacramento) as a Principal at the end of April 2018, bringing 20 years of water and wastewater consulting experience throughout California. Supporting Kevin is Karl Meier, who started at Wood Rodgers in January 2019 as an Associate, bringing 15 years of experience in the water industry. Karl manages the day-to-day operations of the San Diego office and generates opportunities for water and wastewater work.

Proven Partnership Establishes San Diego Office

Prior to the San Diego office opening, Kevin and Karl worked together for over 10 years on many projects throughout California. They brought a proven partnership to establishing and growing our presence in San Diego. In fact, it was Kevin who recruited Karl to establish the new office location in San Diego.

“Karl Meier would be my first hire in any situation,” Kevin explained. “From my experience working with Karl, I knew he was a person we could build an office around. When Karl mentioned that he was interested, and we were the company of choice, the idea of planting a flag in San Diego became real.”

Kevin Gustorf and Karl Meier at the San Diego Open House in October 2019.
Kevin Gustorf (left) and Karl Meier (right) together at the San Diego Open House in October 2019.

Kevin Gustorf (left) and Karl Meier (right) together at the San Diego Open House in October 2019.

New Team Members, Planning and Design Projects in San Diego

Once the office officially opened in January 2019, it wasn’t long before Kevin and Karl added to the team. Shirley Reppert, Daniel Valencia, and Mario Tambellini joined the office over the course of 2019, quickly expanding our available services in San Diego.

“The San Diego office is thriving with bright, energetic engineers who are working on challenging planning and design projects that span from San Diego county to Northern California,” commented Karl. “I am excited to be a part of this office which has grown from one person to five over the course of only a year. I look forward to continue to collaborate with our staff and clients on exciting projects in 2020!”

Wood Rodgers San Diego Employees
From left to right: Kevin Gustorf, Shirley Reppert, Mario Tambellini, Daniel Valencia, and Karl Meier.

From left to right: Kevin Gustorf, Shirley Reppert, Mario Tambellini, Daniel Valencia, and Karl Meier.

Although the office has only been open for a year, Wood Rodgers has already been selected to work on exciting projects in the San Diego area.

“There’s also been immediate success with project selection, which has been a little quicker than we anticipated. Wood Rodgers was virtually unknown a few months ago in San Diego, but we’re already getting a great response,” Kevin stated.

Building the Workplace with Culture in Mind

With expansion in mind, both Kevin and Karl worked to ensure that the new office stayed connected to company as a whole. Throughout the year, they hosted events such as the San Diego Open House to connect with the local community – as well as office events such as pumpkin carving for team bonding.

“As we build the workplace, it’s vital to focus on connecting people and their families together outside of the office,” said Kevin. “All of our offices have to feel that the company supports bringing them together and helping them maintain our culture.”

Daniel Valencia, Karl Meier, and Shirley Reppert having some fun.
Daniel Valencia, Karl Meier, and Shirley Reppert pose for a fun photo at the San Diego Open House.

Daniel Valencia, Karl Meier, and Shirley Reppert pose for a fun photo at the San Diego Open House.

The opening of our San Diego office grows our services and presence in southern California.  The San Diego office is located at 1775 Hancock Street, in the Old Mission Brewery Plaza. The leadership in place, location and space fits the character of our firm and represents who we are very well.  We are excited to celebrate the success of the San Diego office – happy first birthday!


For daily news from each of our office locations, be sure to follow Wood Rodgers on Instagram at @WoodRodgersInc.

Follow team members from San Diego on LinkedIn: Kevin Gustorf, Karl Meier, Mario Tambellini, Shirley Reppert, and Daniel Valencia.

Article written by Lexi Robertson

Top 5 Engineering Career Tips for New Grads

My name is Katie Mason, and I’m an Assistant Engineer at Wood Rodgers. Since graduating from the University of Nevada, Reno, in Civil Engineering in 2015, I’ve been working in Land Development in both Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada. I joined Wood Rodgers in Reno almost 2 years ago – and since then, I’ve continued to expand my competency in civil engineering.

As many college students prepare to graduate this winter and start their careers, I reflected on all of the lessons I’ve learned since my own graduation. Entering the work force holds new challenges and opportunities for everyone. These are my top five career tips specifically for new engineers.

Katie Mason, Assistant Engineer at Wood Rodgers, Inc.
These are my top five career tips for new engineers as they enter the workforce.

These are my top five career tips for new engineers as they enter the workforce.

1. Engineers Need to be Business Minded

In school, projects and homework are fueled by due dates and accuracy. In the professional world, they are controlled by budgets, in addition to accuracy and deadlines. Recognizing time and financial constraints will help the business prosper and ultimately yourself.

When you are assigned a task or a project, communicate with your manager about the budget and time available to complete the work. If the budget is exceeded before the project is complete, the work still needs to get done. Effectively communicating with your manager about the budget will help to avoid these situations.

For example, especially during the first few months of a new position, ask the project manager how much time it should take whenever they assign you a new task. Since you are still learning as a new hire, you may not hit the target every time, but it will give you a goal to reach towards. A successful career as an engineer requires competency with managing your tasks in a timely manner.

2. Be Confident in Your Ability to Learn

Landing a job in engineering can be a humbling experience. Often times, new engineers step into the field surrounded by senior level employees who are experts at what they do. It can be frustrating to have completed a 4+ year degree and feel that your knowledge is elementary.

Recognize that the degree you earned is proof that you have the ability to learn at a high level. Gain hands-on experience in the field you choose. As a new hire, the senior level engineers will understand that there is a learning curve for you. Have patience with yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Eventually, you will be a senior engineer sharing your own knowledge with new graduates. A career in engineering is a career in learning.

3. Keep Notes of Day-to-Day tasks

One of the best things I have ever done for myself is keep notes of day-to-day tasks. My first year of my career, I filled multiple notebooks with to-do lists, training, tasks completed, meeting notes, design sketches, and anything anyone told me. This notebook was helpful to refer back to and study while performing engineering tasks. Instead of having to ask the same questions twice, I had all of the answers in my notebook.

Katie Mason, "A career in engineering is a career in learning."
A career in engineering is a career in learning.

A career in engineering is a career in learning.

Even today, I find myself going back to those notebooks to help me with current projects. Keeping notes serves a dual purpose. It is a record of lessons learned and tasks completed. Consistently juggling multiple projects makes it difficult to remember everything. Whether you are filling out your timecard or revisiting a design from years past, having notes will help you remember when or how something was done.

4. Communicate Your Career Path Early

Do not expect communication to happen on its own. Brainstorming ideas with your team and reviewing project details is key to a successful business. Even if your idea may not be the ultimate design, it is beneficial for your team to hear your input. It’s important for you to develop communication skills early on in your career, especially when you start new projects.

In another aspect, do not expect a company to chart your career path for you. Communicate career goals and how you want to achieve them. This will help your manager make you both successful. You may feel intimidated by team members or managers, but a good company will want you to succeed.

5. Have Fun and Focus on Learning

If you feel like you are stuck in a job, do not be afraid to move on. Success does not come from hating your job. Engineering provides so many opportunities for exciting challenges. If you focus on learning and trying out new opportunities, it should not be difficult to find a field you love.


To summarize, my advice for new engineers is to be business minded, be confident in your ability to learn, keep notes, communicate, and have fun. Congratulations to all future engineers!


This article was written by Katie Mason. For more information on Katie, please see her LinkedIn profile here.

Wood Rodgers Celebrates GIS Day

Sacramento, CA – November 13, 2019. What starts as a normal day for most people is a special day for our GIS Group – their day. GIS Day occurs once annually, and this year, Wood Rodgers is joining the celebration of geographic information system (GIS) technology.

GIS Day was first established in 1999 by Esri. Every year, GIS Day is an opportunity for users and organizations alike to share their work with the community. At Wood Rodgers, our GIS Group prepared a company-wide presentation to demonstrate the capabilities of the software as applied to different departments. For example, the GIS Group recently developed a vicinity maps application for civil engineers as well as geotechnical tools to help with field data collection.

The GIS Group has been working diligently to develop these applications, and each member of the team brings something different to the table. We sat down with the team to learn more about how GIS supports better solutions within engineering industry.

GIS Group Has 70 Years of Combined Experience

The GIS Group at Wood Rodgers is led by Sheng Tan, GIS Manager, and includes: Stephen Barrow, Jon Faoro, Eric Ford, and Azin Sharaf. The experience level of each member ranges from 4 years to 24 years of working with GIS. Overall, the entire group has 70 years of combined experience, effectively forming a team of seasoned GIS professionals.

Each member of the team had a different story of how they chose to pursue GIS as a career. GIS professionals Azin Sharaf, Stephen Barrow and Jon Faoro explained how the software first caught their attention.

“One of the reasons I became interested in GIS was because I like to look at things from the top,” Azin said. “For example, I really enjoy being in an airplane, looking down at mountains and topography. I really enjoy that view. So one of the things that was interesting was looking at maps in top-down view in GIS.”

While Azin was drawn to the top-down view of mapping, Stephen was intrigued by the practical side of GIS while he was studying Geography in college.

“Once you display data on a map, you’re able to visualize it. Instead of sifting through data that doesn’t make sense, you can actually see it. That makes decisions easier,” described Stephen. “I also enjoy the creativity behind cartography, which is how you make a map presentable.”

Stephen Barrow and Eric Ford Implementing Esri ArcGIS into Wood Rodgers, Inc. Projects.
Stephen Barrow and Eric Ford Implementing Esri ArcGIS into Wood Rodgers, Inc. Projects.

Wood Rodgers is celebrating GIS Day on Wednesday, November 13, 2019.

Growing up, Jon was always interested in maps, and even calls himself a “map nerd”. Jon explained that geography doesn’t ever dive too deep into one subject, which means GIS projects are continuously changing.

“I’ve always had interest in the geography of the world. In GIS, I get to work in a lot of different areas and experience different things. I work across multiple disciplines within the company,” Jon said. “I like to help show what can be done within the software to other groups in Wood Rodgers.”

While each team member was drawn to GIS for a different reason, all of them agreed that the continuous evolution of the technology kept them interested in GIS long-term.

New Technology and Collaboration Bring Better Solutions

The technology and applications of GIS are constantly developing. For example, Stephen Barrow recently joined the GIS Group at Wood Rodgers. He is looking forward to learning more about programming and also integrating the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) into applications of GIS.

“There’s a lot you can do with GIS and I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface. GIS is a continuously evolving technology,” stated Stephen. “I’m not ever really doing the same thing twice, which makes the job more enjoyable.”

For Eric Ford, the technological advancement of GIS holds his interest. As new applications in GIS become available, Eric develops tools to address specific needs at the company. Eric frequently works on the programming side of GIS, and more recently has delved into designing web enabled applications.

Water Resources Web Application usting Esri StoryMaps
The interface for a web application for water resource engineers at Wood Rodgers.

The interface for a web application for water resource engineers at Wood Rodgers.

“GIS sets us apart because we’re preparing for the future in using these tools. We’re using GIS to help engineers solve their problems. Sometimes GIS is a way to produce things faster so engineers have more time for quality assurance or quality control. Other times, we use GIS to find a different way to do things all together,” said Eric.

In addition, the GIS Group enables members to take advantage of changing technology within the engineering field. Jon Faoro enjoys the freedom at Wood Rodgers to develop interesting ideas into valuable assets for the company.

“At other companies, if you don’t have a business case to make money immediately, you aren’t able to invest time or look into what an idea could do. Here, we take ideas a little further and see if they will pan out,” described Jon.

For Sheng Tan and the rest of the GIS Group, the best way to develop new solutions is by working together with the other departments in the company. As Wood Rodgers is multidisciplinary, the potential applications of GIS within the company range from survey, to planning, to engineering design, and everything in between.

“In most engineering firms, GIS is treated as a separate department, so engineers don’t usually interact with the GIS division,” Sheng explained. “Wood Rodgers is different. The fact that we collaborate to come up with better solutions sets us apart.”

“Wood Rodgers has made a significant investment in the Technology Group to develop innovative solutions for the company,” Sheng continued. “We have the opportunity to come up with better solutions and think about better ways to do things. This has allowed our IT Group to explore leveraging cloud computing and big data storage for GIS data. Currently, the GIS and CAD Development Groups are working on solutions to seamlessly integrate both data formats in a single source of truth environment.”

Sheng Tan, GIS Director @ Esri Engineering Summit in 2019 Presenting Civil 3D and GIS Integration
Sheng Tan presents at the Esri Engineering Summit in 2019 on Civil 3D and GIS Integration.

Sheng Tan presents at the Esri Engineering Summit in 2019 on Civil 3D and GIS Integration.

As an Esri Partner, Wood Rodgers is also able to keep abreast with the latest technology innovations developed by the GIS software development firm. Furthermore, members of the GIS Group attend Esri conferences to continue learning about new trends and technology advancements.

GIS Impacts Projects Both Externally and Internally

In addition to the flexible, collaborative, and innovative qualities of their careers, the team feels that GIS makes a difference to projects. Before joining Wood Rodgers, Azin Sharaf worked on a project to integrate GIS into public safety. Azin designed a map for 911 dispatchers to accurately retrieve locational data when someone called in for an emergency.

“While executing the project, I realized that the map I was creating affected the lives of people. If I missed data, and a dispatcher could not find that address, what do they do? I put in a lot of effort to make sure everything was extremely accurate in terms of data quality,” said Azin.

Azin was proud of how that project directly connected externally to public safety. In other cases, the impact of GIS may be more internal to the project. For example, Sheng Tan remembers working on the Central Valley Floodplain Evaluation and Delineation (CVFED) project for 7 years at Wood Rodgers. Wood Rodgers was one of the four AEC firms involved in this state project and was responsible for 2,300 square miles of one-dimensional and two-dimensional hydraulic models in a very complex portion of the CVFED project.

“GIS played a key role in turning the CVFED project around and making it successful,” Sheng stated. “Initially, we were doubted if we could complete the project by the deadline. But we were able to deliver because we were using GIS to automate and streamline the workflows for modeling and map production.”

GIS Day is a great opportunity for users to show that there is more to GIS than making maps. As a whole, the GIS Group is looking forward to celebrating GIS Day and sharing their accomplishments with the company. However, when you are part of the GIS Group at Wood Rodgers, every day feels as great as GIS Day.


To learn more about GIS services at Wood Rodgers, contact us at info@woodrodgers.com.

Follow members of the GIS Group on LinkedIn: Sheng Tan, Stephen Barrow, Jon Faoro, Eric Ford, and Azin Sharaf.

Article written by Lexi Robertson

The Story Behind The Wood Rodgers Headquarters On C. Street

If you’ve ever visited our Sacramento headquarters before, you won’t be surprised to learn that our building has an interesting history. Located at 3301 C. Street, our Sacramento office buildings are beloved by employees and clients alike for their cool, industrial, and chic design.

The name on the front of our main building reads the American Can Company. This signage reveals an important clue behind the history of our building and grounds.

History of Canning

Canning developed as a means for farmers to grow more produce and sell it to larger markets beyond their local communities. Canning was also a good means of preserving produce, extending its availability beyond the harvest. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the canning industry was still in its early stages.  Can production and canning were very slow, labor intensive processes. Everything was done by hand. By the late 1800’s most cans utilized the cap-hole style of can, which impeded the loading of produce into the can.

Most can manufactures were independently owned, and lacked the resources to research and develop new technologies. This changed in in the early 1900’s. In 1901, several large can manufactures merged together to form the American Can Company.  In 1904, the first manufactory for an open-top can was opened by the Sanitary Can Company of New York.  Several years later, the Sanitary Can Company was acquired by the American Can Company.

American Can Company – Sacramento Factory

By the 1920’s, the American Can Company had over 65 factories throughout the United States. In Northern California, they had plants in San Francisco and Oakland that provided cans to the fishing and agricultural industries. These plants were at capacity and were having troubles meeting the needs of the growing agricultural output of the central valley.

On December 30, 1925, the American Can Company announced that they had chosen a site in Sacramento for the largest and most modern can factory west of the Rocky Mountains. This new factory would initially manufacture special cans to support the Isleton Asparagus District, where 90% of the world’s asparagus was grown. It was promised that the factory would employ 400-500 people and produce up to 1.5 million cans per day.

The site they purchased was 33 acres of land, north of McKinley Park. The parcel used to be part of the old Meister Dairy.

This was extremely big news for the city of Sacramento. City leaders exclaimed:

“This signals a new era of growth and progress”

“The coming of the can company to Sacramento indicates that Sacramento will soon take rank as one of the most important inland cities in the United States.”

The level of excitement and pride was would be equivalent to being selected as the location of the new Amazon or Google headquarters today.

Ground was broken on the site on August 6, 1926.

New Factory Was A Large Investment for Sacramento

The total cost for the project was $1,600,000. This included the buildings, factory equipment and ten rail spurs.

The Sacramento Bee reported that “This is the largest initial investment that has ever been made in Sacramento.”

Each of the seven buildings of the former American Can Company – now Wood Rodgers, Inc. 

The facility comprised of seven buildings that covered about a third of the site. The remaining land was left available for future expansion. Here is a listing of the former uses of each of these seven buildings:

1. The building closest to C and 33rd intersection, now containing the UC Davis Cosmetic Surgery office, was the factory’s main office building.

2. Adjacent to the main office was the Service building. This is where the UC Davis Dermatology offices are now. This building originally contained employee lockers, restrooms, a cafeteria and a small hospital. The hospital had “equipment of the finest type.” The cafeteria had modern refrigeration equipment, and the envy of all housewives, a dishwasher.

3. The building, where Transportation, Structures, Corporate Communications, and Water Resources are located, was the original factory building. It was built using state of the art, fire-proof, concrete construction methods. Walls of glass, and skylights with transom windows, provided abundant daylight and ventilation to enhance the working environment. The floors were covered with 2 ½ inch redwood tiles. This provided a surface to attach the machines to, and was more comfortable to stand on than concrete. The factory was laid out with seven production lines, with modern electrical equipment. Since each machine had its own electric motor, the factory did not rely on steam driven shafts and drive-belts for power.

4. The large building, now occupied by the State Controller’s Office, was the factory warehouse. It was outfitted with enormous bins, which could store 60 million cans.

5. The building, east of the water tower, which is now occupied by the Mercy Medical Group, was originally set up as a box factory. The east wall was built with wood frame construction to allow the building to be expanded into a second warehouse.

6. The building we are in now obviously contained the boiler, because of the smokestack located on the east end. The boiler was mainly used for hot water and to heat the other buildings. Besides the boiler, this building also had storage rooms for solder, and oil.

7. The koi pond building was originally a garage. You can identify where the large main door was on the back side facing B Street.

The lawn area between the factory and boiler buildings was left vacant for future expansion of the factory.

Originally, the only parking on the site was the parking sheds along C-Street. These sheds provided covered parking for employee automobiles and acted as a fence along the southern border. Where there are now parking lots, around the main buildings, was originally an expansive lawn.  Facing the intersection of C and 33rd was a large hedge that spelled out “Can Co”.

Like Wood Rodgers, the American Can Company tried to take good care of their employees. Beside industry leading daylight and ventilation, employees had their own lockers, they could get meals in the cafeteria “at cost” and they could receive medical care for injuries and illness at the factory hospital. The facility even had ammonia chilled water pipes delivering cold water to 10 drinking fountains.

American Can Company, Throughout the Years

The can factory operated for over forty years. During World War II, they experienced labor shortages as production was expanded to include a night shift to support the “Food for Victory” war effort.

In the late 30’s, after the depression, the factory was confronted with labor disputes, strikes and rioting.

This 1945 photograph shows the steamy interior of the American Can Company. Photo sourced from Calisphere

In 1946, production of fiber and metal frozen food containers was added to the factory.

Due to improvements in automated can manufacturing, and the advent of viable refrigeration and frozen food technologies, the Sacramento factory quietly shut down in November 1961, laying off the last 96 employees.

After the Can Company Closes

The site remained empty for a little over a year. In 1963, it was sold to the Parr Industrial Group and the facility was leased to Aerojet for their Sacramento annex office. Aerojet manly used the site for storage, but they did move in about 200 employees from their ground support division. Aerojet vacated the complex in 1966, when they consolidated their ground support group to offices San Ramon.

At this time, the site was sold to Harry Holgerson. He wanted to develop the site further and did a lot of the facility improvements that we see today.

The next tenant was the Department of Justice. They occupied the site until 1985. Due to the secretive nature of their work, they turned the site into a fortress. The complex was surrounded by gated fencing, bars were placed over windows, and armed guards could be seen patrolling the site.

In 1997, the owners wanted to tear down the warehouse building and replace it with two story and three story office buildings and a parking garage. This proposal was opposed by the residents of East Sacramento.

Wood Rodgers moved into the building in 2000, and the current owner, AKT Development, acquired the Cannery Business Park in 2006.


The next time you visit our Sacramento headquarters, close your eyes. You just might hear the distant roar of the boiler furnace, or the humming machines turning out thousands of cans.


About the Author 

David Zavislan has over 30 years of experience in the Civil Engineering field. David is an expert on the implementation of Autodesk products in Civil Engineering design and documentation workflows.

Sources available upon request via info@woodrodgers.com

Meet the new face of Wood Rodgers—Tony Vignolo. With over 22 years of experience in the engineering industry, he has joined Pleasanton Office as a Principal. In this role, Tony seeks to grow the office by offering unparalleled civil design for his projects, while building relationships with new and current clients.

Career Success with a Twist

Although Tony’s career path has always been one of success, it has also had a few unexpected twists—twists that have shaped Tony’s experience and approach to management, leadership and marketing. Initially, Tony sought a structural engineering undergraduate degree at Cal Poly. That was, at least, until an internship at a civil engineering firm changed his mind. Tony’s observations during his internship were two-fold: civil engineers are more outgoing, relying on relationships to secure new projects, and civil engineers have more influence through their coordination with council members, mayors, planning commissions, developers and builders.

“When I went to school to be a structural engineer, I noticed other students weren’t as outgoing as me. I did all my internships during my summers as a civil engineer back home. In comparison, the civil engineering industry was very outgoing,” explained Tony.

Tony felt drawn to the more relationship-based work of civil engineering. Post-graduation, Tony found himself working with a civil engineering firm focused on land development where he began to develop his outgoing and personable approach to clients, staff and agencies.

Tony’s second career twist began in 2008. At the recommendation of a friend, Tony completed a 3-month unpaid internship working in medical device sales. Although Tony had no previous medical experience—let alone knowledge of anatomy—he jumped at the opportunity to learn the trade and the chance to earn a sales territory.

Tony Vignolo, Principal in Civil Engineering at Wood Rodgers, attributes his career success to its many unexpected twists.

In this new role, it was important for Tony to understand enough about medicine to sell medical device products to doctors. This often meant knowing the size of a screws used for spine fusion and the best tools for the doctor to use to make the surgery go smoothly. What Tony began to realize is the attention to detail that made him a good engineer caused him to excel in medical device sales.

“One day, the doctor was asking the current representative all these questions, and the representative didn’t know the answers,” said Tony. “The doctor turned and asked me, and I answered his questions. The next day, that representative was fired, and I was given UCSF as my main account.”

Once Tony earned UCSF as his main medical device sales account, he took off running. It is a strong example of Tony’s tenacity and ability to make the most out of any situation. Furthermore, Tony picked up important skills on the job that he now utilizes daily in his current role at Wood Rodgers. Tony mastered cold-call sales, and learned that trust is imperative to earning new business.

“The most important part is trust. You have to show your client that you know your stuff and you’ve got their back. You’ll be there for them and help them get through whatever comes up. If they don’t trust you, they’re not going to hire you,” stated Tony.

After a few successful years in medical device sales, Tony was drawn back into the civil engineering industry in 2012.

“I was working in spine sales, and I was so busy that I was working 7 days a week, 6 AM to 3 AM.  I was sleeping in my car, not seeing my kids, and losing weight like crazy. So I got to the point where returning to civil engineering seemed like a better route for me and my family,” Tony explained.

Sales, Trust, and Engineering Go Hand in Hand

After returning to industry, Tony accepted our offer to be a Principal at Wood Rodgers. In his new role, Tony is implementing all that he has learned: how to gain trust and forge relationships with new clients, how to dig into the details to create value on projects, and how to lead by example.

After 3 months as a Principal at Wood Rodgers, Tony could not be happier with his decision to join the company. For Tony, a few things set Wood Rodgers apart: we are a big company, with a small office mentality; we have a multidisciplinary approach with one-stop shopping for land development services; and there is Principal involvement at every step of a project through to completion.

Tony will continue to grow our company by building relationships, both with clients and our engineers, and with a pencil and paper in hand.

Employees from the Wood Rodgers Pleasanton office at our annual Open House event. 

Advice for Up and Coming Engineers

Tony enjoys mentoring young staff and showing them the “old school way”. He finds joy in showing staff how to design common AutoCAD tasks by hand. Tony will often use a pencil and paper to run quick design calculations. Each time, his “old school” calculations mirror the same calculations performed in AutoCAD, to the amazement of the newer staff.

“Observe and absorb,” said Tony. “Listen to the guys who have been around the block. Soon enough, you’ll be remembering all those tricks for how to run projects and do design. You’ll be able to put it all on paper and make it easier. Try to absorb as much as you can.”

As for the more experienced professionals, Tony says one of the most important lessons he’s learned in his career is to voice your opinion.

“After you have some experience, don’t be afraid to voice your opinion. That’s why people are working with you. They want to have your input. You have experience. If you think something’s wrong or wonky, bring it up. They’ll respect you for it,” said Tony.


For more on Tony Vignolo, please see his LinkedIn profile here.

Article written by Lexi Robertson.

Nevada adopted new science standards (called the Nevada Academic Content Standards or NVACS for Science) in 2014. These standards are based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a national set of standards which include engineering standards applied to all disciplinary areas—Life Science, Physical Science, Earth and Space Science. As part of these new standards, teachers are now incorporating engineering in the classroom.

As an engineering company, Wood Rodgers feels that we can play a critical role in leading students through the engineering design process applied to real-world situations. Through our community action program, STEAM Team, Wood Rodgers supports education initiatives for middle school and high school students. STEAM Team is a relatively new program at Wood Rodgers, and each of our offices in California and Nevada is developing a program relative to their community’s local needs. For example, we’ve placed emphasis on working with students directly through class presentations, office tours, and career education events.

However, it was originally Sylvia Scoggin’s idea for our company to become involved in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) curriculum development.

Wood Rodgers talked with teachers about developing hands-on science and engineering activities for the classroom. Photo courtesy of Kaiser Photography

Sylvia is a Secondary Science Curriculum Facilitator in the Washoe County School District, and proposed that Wood Rodgers work with teachers to develop hands-on science and engineering activities. Especially at the middle school and high school level, teachers often have multiple classes with different students every day. Therefore, enabling one teacher could result in many students learning these engineering educational concepts.

It quickly became apparent that by developing curriculum for teachers, we could impact an exponential amount of students for years to come.

Wood Rodgers Develops Engineering Activities for High School Students

Sylvia’s idea was for the Wood Rodgers’ STEAM Team to develop hands-on engineering activities, and then train teachers to bring that curriculum into their individual classrooms. By showing teachers what a civil engineer actually does on a day-to-day basis, we hoped that teachers could better identify learning objectives for their students.

“Teachers can then use their training and experience to take that learning in the direction which best serves their students,” Sylvia explained.

Wood Rodgers recently embarked to develop hands-on engineering curriculum for teachers in Washoe County. Doug Del Porto, one of our engineers, is shown here presenting to science teachers. Photo courtesy of Kaiser Photography.

The biggest challenge for the Wood Rodgers STEAM Team in developing our lesson plan was to find common ground between Wood Rodgers’ work and Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs), as part of the NGSS adopted by the state of Nevada. The SEPs are practices which all scientists and engineers engage in during their work. These practices ask students to integrate knowledge and skills in order to solve engineering problems or construct explanations.

That’s where Mickey Smith came in.

Mickey worked at Wood Rodgers as a Geotechnical Engineer and Principal for 10 years. These days, Mickey teaches Chemistry and Physical Science classes at Wooster High School.

“Having an activity that first engages the students in how the SEPs extend to the real world, then to have those connections reinforced through a presentation and relevant activity with real engineers, helps them see the world more deeply and goes a long way to answer their question, ‘How would this ever relate to my world?’ The SEPs are everywhere; students just don’t know it – yet,” said Mickey.

Amber Harmon, the Nevada Regional Marketing Lead at Wood Rodgers, talks with teachers about how engineering plans directly relate to the SEPs developed by Washoe County School District. Photo courtesy of Kaiser Photography.

Curriculum for Students to Understand Real-World Engineering Concepts

Mickey assisted the STEAM Team in developing two hands-on engineering activities. The first activity is designed for the teacher to present solo to their class. The second activity is meant to be presented by one of our engineers at Wood Rodgers, as a follow-up.

The first activity is a planning activity, where students focus on the SEP of “Asking questions and defining problems”. During this activity, students learn important engineering vocabulary, such as “parcels”, “setbacks”, and “right-of-way”, and where engineers label these terms on plans. Students also complete simplified math equations that would be necessary for a real engineering project to proceed. For example, students are guided to calculate the required amount of parking spaces for a project.

The second activity is hands-on, with an engineer in the classroom. The engineer will guide the students to design a preliminary site layout for a high school. The engineer will bring all of the supplies required for the activity, and will tie in the learning concepts from the first planning activity.

Four of the members of Wood Rodgers’ community action program, STEAM Team. From left to right: Lexi Robertson, Ashley Verling, PE, Amber Harmon, and Doug Del Porto. Photo courtesy of Kaiser Photography.

We designed the curriculum so the teachers could introduce their class to engineering concepts before a guest speaker (the engineer) comes into the classroom. That way, the students already have a basic idea of vocabulary and can better understand the engineer’s presentation.

After we finalized the lesson plans, we sent representatives from our Reno office to teach the teachers (pun intended). Sylvia coordinated for Wood Rodgers to present at a curriculum training event for Washoe County School teachers. Four volunteers from Wood Rodgers presented the hands-on activities and also talked about different career options for students interested in STEAM.

How to Bring Engineering Lesson Plans Into Your Classroom

At Wood Rodgers, we believe more than ever in the importance of introducing STEAM career opportunities to students at a younger age. When students learn about pathways to pursue career opportunities sooner, they are better able to take the required steps to be successful. In addition, we want to make the first activity, the planning lesson, more widely available, especially for the classrooms that we are not able to personally visit. If you would like the lesson plan, please email STEAMteam@woodrodgers.com and include “Reno Lesson Plan” in the subject line.

Again, the planning worksheet is designed for the teacher to present to their classroom before an engineer actually visits the class. We recommend reading through the worksheet beforehand and becoming familiar with the material and answers, before sharing it with the classroom. Each teacher might want to customize the lesson plan to the needs of their specific classroom.

Lexi Robertson and Doug Del Porto talk with teachers about implementing engineering curriculum into their high-school classrooms. Photo courtesy of Kaiser Photography.  

If you would like to formally request a follow-up classroom visit for schools local to our regional offices in California and Nevada, please contact us through STEAMteam@woodrodgers.com. We have a limited amount of guest speaker availability, and accommodate guest speaker requests on a first-come, first-serve basis. However, we also take special consideration for teachers who can demonstrate STEAM learning objectives in their class curriculum.

At Wood Rodgers, we believe in building relationships both through our projects and throughout our communities. Our vision is to inspire the next generation of engineers to reach their fullest potential.


Article Written by Lexi Robertson

Edited by Amber Harmon