Remote Technology Solutions Move Engineering Projects Forward During COVID-19
For engineering firms, the challenge to implement remote workspaces may be elevated compared to other industries, simply due to demanding software requirements. A typical day for the average engineer at Wood Rodgers requires AutoCAD, Civil 3D, ArcGIS, Bentley FlowMaster, Bluebeam Revu, and BST Global. Large amount of data and resources are required for each of these power-house programs to function. Without a powerful Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), the remote work experience for an engineer would be slow, inconsistent, and very frustrating, if not impossible.
In October 2019, the Technology Group at Wood Rodgers began investigating the use of VDI. The original intention was to accommodate rapid expansion and increase remote capabilities within the Wood Rodgers offices of Las Vegas, Oakland, Pleasanton, Roseville, San Diego, and San Dimas. The Technology Group consists of the CAD Department, GIS Group, and IT Team, which all work together in a Development Operations (DevOps) process. In this format, Wood Rodgers has leveraged technology for years, providing unparalleled service to clients.
A professional engineer at Wood Rodgers works remotely on a job site.
Wood Rodgers searched for a VDI solution which could support the firm’s established file system provider, Panzura, as well as existing infrastructure on Microsoft Azure. Workspot was selected due to their competitive business model, commitment to customer success, Tesla M60 Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) and presence in Microsoft Azure. In engineering industry, a GPU is essential to process programs with high graphic and memory usage, such as AutoCAD.
“The use of Workspot with GPU, combined with Wood Rodgers developed CAD custom tools and Azure based Enterprise GIS infrastructure, gives Wood Rodgers the ability to perform above and beyond, regardless of the location or device,” explained Michael Albrecht, Director of IT at Wood Rodgers.
Delivering Engineering, GIS, and Design Projects in the Cloud
For the Technology Group at Wood Rodgers, continuing project deliverables in the face of COVID-19 required a rapid mitigation to the cloud. Through the established partnership with Workspot, Wood Rodgers had already proved VDI to be an effective solution for engineers, technicians, and field crews to work remotely. With shelter-in-place directives, the Technology Group quickly expanded VDI to all employees throughout the company.
“Wood Rodgers completed their initial implementation of Workspot cloud workstations weeks before the escalation of COVID-19 in California and Nevada,” said Workspot CEO Amitabh Sinha. “As it became necessary for the firm to comply with shelter-in-place directives, Wood Rodgers avoided business disruption through a well-executed business continuity plan that included rapidly scaling the number of cloud workstations in use. We’re very pleased that by using Workspot, the firm is moving projects forward for their customers and providing a productive, remote work experience that helps keep their employees safe.”
The powerful remote connections on VDI transitions users of AutoCAD, ArcGIS, and design software between desktop computers, laptops, and mobile devices. These photos were taken in the Wood Rodgers Roseville office before the recent shelter-in-place directives.
For the Technology Group, the most difficult part of the remote work expansion was helping users understand that VDI performance is not affected by their hardware at home. Workspot delivers high-capacity computing and graphic processing power, whether on an advanced desktop or a laptop. To help users adjust, the Technology Group focused on the software requirements of each different department while scheduling deployment of Workspot. Then, a member of the Technology Group scheduled a one-on-one virtual interface with each user. This process ensured long-term user success by verifying remote log-in capabilities and meeting software requirements.
VDI Remote Connections Work Better, Faster than Traditional Desktop Configurations
In addition to providing VDI through Workspot, the Technology Group implemented Office 365 and Microsoft Teams as collaboration tools for both internal employees and external clients. In fact, the Technology Group received an overwhelming response that VDI and the new communication tools actually worked better than the traditional office desktop. For example, VDI is far faster for engineers to load, open, and close drawings when modeling, rendering, and performing work on heavy computational software.
Throughout the company-wide expansion to VDI, the Wood Rodgers CAD Team innovated existing tools in the new virtual environment. For example, the CAD Team configured Wood Rodgers’ custom tools on AutoCAD to provide unparalleled capability on VDI. Engineers at Wood Rodgers have relied on these custom tools for years to be more efficient on AutoCAD than the average engineering firm.
In conjunction with the Technology Group efforts, the GIS Group developed mobile resources for the Survey and Geotechnical field crews. The GIS Group uses Esri’s Collector for ArcGIS and Survey123 for ArcGIS mobile apps, to help surveyors, inspectors and engineers collect data. These mobile resources allow site assessments to be completed on a phone or tablet while employees work in the field. In this way, the field crews are provided with all the tools and technology to complete workflows daily on each job site.
“With the Wood Rodgers custom tools on top of VDI, engineers can perform all the automated workflows that we’ve instituted. Wood Rodgers serves our external clients with stability in communications. With all these virtual resources, we can continue meeting online, as if we were face-to-face. By upholding our commitment to clients, Wood Rodgers employees are working, and we are delivering projects on time or earlier,” stated Michael Albrecht.
Wood Rodgers is proud to be fully functional in a remote workspace environment through powerful technology solutions. Having a Business Continuity Plan in place allowed for little to no business interruptions. Wood Rodgers is implementing continual efforts in developing innovations and applying them to the current events to deliver the best possible solutions for clients.
Article written by Lexi Robertson.
COVID-19: Health, Safety, and Continuity of Work at Wood Rodgers, Inc.
Wood Rodgers, Inc. (Wood Rodgers) is following the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO) for information and guidance regarding COVID-19. Wood Rodgers anticipated the potential effects of COVID-19 for the company and made logistical preparations far in advance to uphold the health and safety of the workplace.
As the situation regarding COVID-19 developed in recent months, the Human Resources, Technology Department, Facilities Group, and Company Leaders at Wood Rodgers implemented extensive precautions and preparations to ensure continuity of work. Please review the following for a summary of measures taken at Wood Rodgers to uphold health and safety. Wood Rodgers guarantees the continued commitment to clients and project deliverables throughout current events regarding COVID-19.
Ensuring Health of Employees, Clients and Communities at Large
The top priority of Wood Rodgers is ensuring the health and safety of employees, clients and communities at large. Wood Rodgers is closely monitoring and adhering to federal guidelines, especially with regards to closures of schools, restaurants, gyms, bars, conferences, and other locations where people congregate in California and Nevada. In addition, Wood Rodgers is accommodating employees in the high-risk health category, as well as caretakers for another in the high-risk category, and caretakers of children.
Every employee has been accounted for on a personalized basis to provide the best possible solution for all Wood Rodgers staff. Wood Rodgers developed a practical policy for employees to efficiently work remotely, which is discussed further in the following sections.
Notification System for Employees & Maintained Communication with Clients, Agencies
Wood Rodgers implemented a company-wide notification system to send group texts to employees in each office location as COVID-19 continues to evolve. The notification system ensures the safety of employees, as Wood Rodgers may immediately notify staff of any further changes to policy as recommended by OSHA, CDC, and WHO. Company Leaders at Wood Rodgers are utilizing the immediate text notification system in addition to company-wide email to keep all employees informed.
All communications between Wood Rodgers employees and clients will be maintained, as usual, through company-provided emails and phones. Through the Wood Rodgers remote work policy, employees are committed to providing timely responses to uphold communication channels company-wide.
Continuity of Work through Powerful Remote Software
Wood Rodgers anticipated potential effects to continuity of work prior to the escalation of COVID-19 in California and Nevada. Therefore, weeks in advance, Wood Rodgers partnered with our established and reputable third party vendors to provide strong, reliable VDI connections to employees. This partnership allows the AutoCAD, GIS, and computational software users at Wood Rodgers to remotely perform their work from home computers. Fortunately, Wood Rodgers has operated with remote access for many years, and this does not come as a new concept. In fact, this powerful remote software connection was already being utilized in the Wood Rodgers offices of Oakland, Roseville, San Dimas, and San Diego.
In addition, Wood Rodgers implemented protocols for other important aspects of business, such as Administration, Survey, and Geotechnical Inspections, from remote locations and devices. At this time, Wood Rodgers is revising staking requests to a 72-hour notice instead of a 48-hour notice. Wood Rodgers is closely monitoring the guidelines and recommendations as it pertains to further steps for remediation, if needed.
Wood Rodgers Upholds Commitment to Project Deliverables
This press release is intended to ensure clients, agencies, and communities of Wood Rodgers’ commitment to adjust to all challenges pertaining to COVID-19. Throughout this time, Wood Rodgers assures you of continuity of work, maintained project deliverables for clients and agencies, and priority of health and safety for all.
For now, Wood Rodgers looks forward to continuity of work through established remote software. The Wood Rodgers social media channels on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook will continue to provide necessary company communications on COVID-19. In addition, please refer to the company social media channels and website for further assurance on continued project updates, personnel growth, and innovative design solutions through remote software. Finally, for existing clients and agencies, feel welcomed to reach out to your normal Wood Rodgers contacts regarding any project or logistical concerns you may have.
For all others, please email email@example.com for further questions or concerns regarding Wood Rodgers’ response to COVID-19.
Wood Rodgers Develops Hydrologic and Hydraulic Modeling for Public Agency
Sunnyvale, Palo Alto, and Cupertino, CA — February 12, 2020 — Engineers from our Oakland Water Resources team took to the pipes on behalf of the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) for a recent flood study in Sunnyvale. The SCVWD is a public agency, providing water supply, flood protection, and stream stewardship for Santa Clara County. The agency serves approximately two million people in 15 cities and unincorporated areas in the County.
The San Francisquito and Adobe watershed (SF Adobe) flood study was conducted by the SCVWD for the development of hydrologic and hydraulic modeling. The project was in support of a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) study through the Cooperating Technical Partners (CTP) program. This study will provide data for a FEMA-compliant evaluation and delineation study for the 2-, 5-, 10-, 25-, 50-, 100-, 200, and 500-year events for the San Francisquito and Adobe watersheds (watersheds).
Hydraulic Modeling with Recorded Rain Storm Events
The hydrologic and hydraulic modeling of the study watersheds was calibrated using rainfall and flow gage data. The SCVWD had three existing flow gages in the watersheds that were used for this purpose. Five additional flow gages were purchased and installed in pipes and channel culvert crossings to measure depth and velocity.
Jeremy McMahon, PE, works as a Civil Engineer for Wood Rodgers, and specializes in pump station, water treatment and conveyance projects. For the SF Adobe flood study, Jeremy installed storm drain channel flow gages and wireless antenna telemetry at key locations in the SCVWD drainage system. These flow gages were utilized throughout the study watersheds to supplement the three existing depth gages on San Francisquito Creek, Madero Creek, and Adobe Creek.
“After installation, I monitored and maintained the flow gages for a 6-month period. Balancing the site constraints and capabilities of the equipment to get the most accurate flow readings is a fun and challenging process. Each application is unique, and requires custom solutions to get accurate and reliable flow data,” stated Jeremy.
Measuring Water Depth and Velocity for the SF Adobe Flood Study
Caela Brazelton works as an Assistant Engineer at Wood Rodgers in Oakland. Her project experience includes pumps, storm water infrastructure, watershed modeling, and pipeline design. For this study, Caela prepared gear and tools prior to going on-site. Once on-site, Caela helped install the gages and sensors by drilling mounts along the culvert walls for the sensor output lines, and securing the flow gage sensors to crown and inverts of the culverts.
Caela Brazelton, Assistant Engineer at Wood Rodgers, prepares for the installation of flow gages for the SF Adobe flood study.
For Caela, the most interesting part of the project was working on-site and seeing the different culverts and storm drains first-hand. “It’s one thing to sit at a computer in the office and design a storm system with 72” diameter pipes or 12’ x 10’ box culverts, but being able to see it all in-person really puts everything into perspective,” said Caela.
For example, one of the issues that Caela and the team found on-site was a 3” thick layer of calcium buildup that carpeted the floor of a box culvert where flow gage sensors were being installed. The calcium was too brittle for the flow gage sensors to mount properly. Therefore, the team modified their approach by first chiseling away the calcium in order to mount the sensors securely. By working on-site, the team was able to quickly account for small obstacles and keep the project timeline on track.
Caela explained, “Being on-site helps me fully understand the scale of the system we’re dealing with, as well as exposes me to problems that are only seen in the field and may need to be accounted for when modeling and designing these systems.”
Caela Brazelton uses a drill to install flow gages within a pipe. The flow gages will measure water depth and velocity for San Francisquito Creek, Madero Creek, and Adobe Creek.
Wood Rodgers was pleased to work with the SCVWD on this important Water Resources project in the Bay Area. For more information on Water Resources services, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more on the Santa Clara Valley Water District, please visit their website here.
Article written by Lexi Robertson.
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 (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!”
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 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!
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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 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.
Article written by Lexi Robertson.