40 Under 40 winners: Meet the engineers

Of the up-and-coming AEC professionals to be named to the class of 2014, 10 make their living as engineers.

April 08, 2014 |

In the April 2014 issue of BD+C, the editors named the winners of the 9th Annual "40 Under 40" competition. Of the up-and-coming AEC professionals to be named to the class of 2014, 10 make their living as engineers, ranging from an energy management specialist (Jared Higgins) to a project manager who's set multiple records at her firm (Kelly Altes).

To view the entire class of 2014 see our main landing page.

This year’s winners will be invited to join their 40 Under 40 peers—as well as other young professionals nominated by their firms—for three days of career development at BD+C's 4th Annual Under 40 Leadership Summit in New York, September 17-19.
For more information, contact David Barista, BD+C Editor-in-Chief, at 847.954.7929 or dbarista@sgcmail.com.

Seismic Sage


COO/Senior Principal
Magnusson Klemencic Associates, Seattle
AGE: 39
MS, University of California–Berkeley
BS, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
Progressed from entry-level engineer to Principal in a bit more than a decade, followed by a 2012 promotion to COO. Manages staff recruitment, work assignments, professional training, human resources, and physical facilities for MKA. Led a company initiative in performance-based seismic design, leading to a new methodology for high-rises in earthquake-prone regions.
Representative projects: 300 N. LaSalle, Chicago (57-story, 1.3 million-sf office tower); The Infinity, San Francisco (four concrete residential buildings totaling 1.4 million sf atop a mixed-use podium).
Registered in Washington as both a civil and structural engineer.
Assisted in MKA-initiated research at the University of California–Los Angeles involving link beam performance and construction, leading to a modification to ACI Code 318-08.
Published author: ACI Structural Journal, Structural Design of Tall Buildings (a publication of the Los Angeles Tall Building Structural Design Council), ASCE Structures Congress Proceedings, PTI Journal.
Longtime volunteer with Seattle Children’s Hospital. Served on the Parent Advisory Council, whose mission is to help ensure that the organization meets the needs of children and their families.
Church elder.
Enjoys running, watching college basketball, and reading. “I worked on a golf course for two summers in high school and during that time taught myself how to juggle, but not how to golf.”
Fry is a member of his church choir, met his wife in a college band, and has memorized every song from “The Little Mermaid.” Unusual talents include the ability to drink a carton of milk in three seconds.

Early Achiever


Pinnacle Structural Engineers, Houston
AGE: 34
BS, Rice University
MS, University of Texas
Cryer co-founded Pinnacle at age 25 with a partner while still enrolled as a grad student at UT–Austin. Currently leads employee recruitment, marketing, and business development for the firm, as well as managing and training staff engineers.
Has served as EOR on more than 250 projects, including blast-resistant structures for Houston-area petrochemical facilities. Also experienced in the worship, office, and K-12 sectors. Recent projects: 107,000-sf TGS Nopec Headquarters, Houston; 37,500-sf Mary Queen Catholic Church, Friendswood, Texas; 35,000-sf The Varnett School (elementary building), Houston.
Licensed Professional Engineer in nine states.
Serves on the Board of Directors for the Houston branch of ACE; active in the Mentors Program.
Presenter on AEC topics for classes at Rice University, University of Texas, and University of Houston.
Published author (Modern Steel Construction, Structural Engineer). 
Member, American Concrete Institute and The American Institute for Steel Construction.
Volunteers with his wife on projects for Rebuilding Together Houston.
Co-captain of the company bowling team, competing in the Houston Architects/Engineers Bowling League. Pinnacle has won the league title in two of the past three years. Bowled sequential 300 and 279 games in 2011.
Completed his first marathon earlier this year.
Crazy about rock and the blues, from Led Zeppelin to Gary Clark Jr. to Stone Temple Pilots. “My love of music and concerts led me to pick up the guitar during my senior year of college. I hope to join a band in the not-so-distant future.”

High-Powered Iowan


Project Executive and Lead Structural Engineer
KJWW Engineering 
Consultants, Des Moines, Iowa
AGE: 35
BS, Iowa State University
Altes joined KJWW in 2001 and became one of the youngest department supervisors in the company’s history six years later. A licensed PE, she has supervised four engineers and three drafters, including two in the firm’s India office. Altes recently shifted from internal operations management to Project Executive, again one of the youngest in the company. Works in business development and project support, providing project-management mentoring and technical expertise on design of structural systems.
Representative projects: Advocate Sherman Hospital, Elgin, Ill. ($200 million replacement hospital); Grand River Center, Dubuque, Iowa ($26 million convention center).
Outstanding Young Engineer of 2013, Iowa Engineering Society, Central Iowa Chapter.
ACE Mentor Program of Central Iowa (guest speaker, board member, board secretary, and public relations committee chair).
Scholarship committee chair, Iowa Engineering Society, Central Iowa Chapter.
Mentor, Iowa State University Senior Design Capstone Class.
Society of Women Engineers (secretary, treasurer, fundraising chair, president).
Community service with St. Francis of Assisi Parish’s Young Catholic Adults and Friends group; Dowling Catholic High School Color Guard (coach); Central Iowa Shelter and Services (liaison and coordinator); Boy Scouts (educator in engineering topics); and the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute’s Community Leadership Program (Class of 2010).
Altes recently gave birth to her third son but makes time for kickboxing and turbo-kick classes at her local Y. Also loves snow and water skiing, swimming, and tailgating at Iowa State football games.
Favorite authors: John Grisham, Ken Follett, Ben Mezrich.
Dad is a genealogy buff and has traced the family name back through 12 generations, or more than 350 years.

Entrepreneurial Engineer


Mechanical Engineering  and Energy Services Discipline Leader
Parkhill, Smith, & Cooper Inc., Lubbock, Texas
AGE: 31
BSME, Texas Tech University
Joined PSC, an engineering/architecture firm, while completing his collegiate degree. Became the company’s first Certified Energy Manager, Certified Demand Side Management Professional, and Commissioning Process Management Professional. Led formation of a new Energy Services Team, which now includes five employees offering energy modeling, benchmarking, grant writing, solar hot water design, gray water reclamation, and building systems commissioning. In 2013, assumed leadership of all mechanical engineering work within the six-office firm; later named corporate Associate.
Collaborated on creation of the Energy Reduction and Commissioning Design Guide for the Department of Defense Education Activity office, guiding work on schools for military families. 
Licensed Professional Engineer in Texas and New Mexico.
Active in ASHRAE and the Association of Energy Engineers. Serves on two ASHRAE technical committees and contributes frequently to ASHRAE Journal. Instrumental in formation of a West Texas Chapter of the AEE; inaugural chapter president, 2013. Currently one of five VPs on the national AEE executive committee.
Volunteers in engineering education at local high schools and middle schools. Serves as free tutor for several families.
Favorite pastime: river and ocean kayaking. “I usually plan vacations around a new river—Class 4 minimum—or a stretch of coastline with good surf.” Enjoys still photography; working on a book spotlighting America’s national parks.
Higgins has traveled the country to see old steam engines and trains that are still in working condition. “I’m particularly a fan of the narrow-gauge engines used in the West in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada.”

Superman's Student


National Director of Engineering
Little Diversified Architectural Consulting, Charlotte, N.C.
AGE: 35
BSCE, Lawrence Technological University
MBA, University of Florida, Warrington College of Business
Former CFO, Director of Engineering, and co-owner of a multi-services company. On the side, helped support a STEM and sustainability education program for students.
Joined Little in 2013 as National Director of Engineering, a newly created position; active in Little’s business planning and daily management of 20 MEP and structural engineers.
Licensed Professional Engineer in 15 states.
Top 40 Under Forty, Gulf Coast Business Review (2012) and Gulfshore Business Magazine (2011).
Engineer of the Year, Florida Engineering Society, Calusa Chapter (2011).
Education Advisory Board for STEM Education Center, Discovery Place, Charlotte.
Member, Planning and Zoning Commission, Cape Coral, Fla. (2012).
Board member, Imaginarium Science Center, Fort Myers (2011-12).
Member, National Society of Professional Engineers, Professional Engineers of North Carolina.
Building with LEGOs. “I’m currently enjoying the Architecture series. My sons have picked up my passion, and our house is a LEGO minefield at times.”
Collector of Superman memorabilia, including limited-edition numbered sneakers. “His values of honesty and empathy are ones I still hold dear today.”

Engineering Marvel


Gulf Coast Regional Operations Director
TLC Engineering for Architecture, Tampa, Fla.
AGE: 37
BS, University of South Florida
MBA, University of Tampa
Trained as a mechanical engineer, Heffelmire worked in the family contracting business. Joined TLC in 2010 and has since assumed responsibility for the entire Gulf Coast Region. The youngest of the firm’s leaders, he now oversees engineering and operations staff to meet marketing goals and revenue projections, as well as leading procedures for BIM and IPD.
Notable projects: Florida Polytechnic University Campus, Lakeland (with Calatrava and Skanska, $100 million); All Aboard Florida Terminals, Miami and West Palm Beach ($550 million); Tampa International Airport, Consolidated Rental Car and Automated People Mover ($734 million); Project Hal Data Center, Aurora, Colo. (LEED Silver, $25 million).
Registered Professional Engineer in nine states.
Revived rugby as an intercollegiate sport at the University of South Florida during his undergraduate years, and later became a USA Rugby Certified Coach. 
Head Coach, Florida Rugby Union Collegiate All-Star Team (2002-2010).
Past president, South Florida Rugby Alumni Association (2009-10). 
Member, University of South Florida Mechanical Engineering Department Advisory Board.
Member, University of Tampa Board of Fellows, Academic Affairs Committee.
Member, USGBC Florida Gulf Coast and Louisiana chapters.
Top Walker, American Heart Association Tampa Bay Heart Walk (over $6,500 raised, 2012 and 2013).
Father of a toddler and newborn, Heffelmire enjoys wakeboarding, mountain biking, and snowboarding. Self-confessed foodies, he and his wife have recently indulged in 20-course tasting dinners.
Grandfather worked for the federal government investigating and prosecuting mobsters. “He has a lot of wild stories that include getting out of a safe house just minutes before it was shot up.”

Port Authority


Electrical Engineer
P2S Engineering, Long Beach, Calif.
AGE: 33
BS, MS, Auburn University
Joined P2S Engineering after finishing his master’s degree. Since 2009, responsible for firm’s master planning, project management, electrical design, and construction administration of more than $70 million of electrical projects at the Port of Long Beach, as well as design of $45 million of electrical work split between the ports of Long Beach and Hueneme. The firm’s recently completed shore power projects will be a model for sustainable terminal design.
Representative projects: Middle Harbor Terminal, Long Beach (300 acres, first fully automated and electrified container terminal in the U.S.); Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, Hong Kong; Universal Studios, Universal City, Calif.; multiple projects for California State University sites in Fullerton, Long Beach, Northridge, and San Bernardino.
Member, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (Power System Engineering Committee vice chair and paper review chair; Technical Book Coordinating Committee, Power System Design Working Group).
Member, P2S Spirit Team (charitable work with the Long Beach ACE Mentoring program, Ronald McDonald House, Orange County Canstruction, Toys for Tots, and Assistance League of Long Beach).
Avid recreational runner, poker player.
Watches “way too much TV,” including anything with Anthony Bourdain.
At age five, proposed to his kindergarten teacher in the middle of a school concert. “Oh, Miss Douglas … the one that got away.” 

Green Genes


VP/Energy Services Manager
Primera Engineers, Chicago
AGE: 33
BS, Washington University in St. Louis
Expert in sustainable design, energy modeling, and life cycle cost analysis. Active in development of green construction codes, including the International Code Council’s International Green Construction Code (development committee for the first edition, 2012). Reviewer for Chicago’s Green Permit Program energy models.
Oversees firm’s LEED projects, including 70 completed projects and 35 pending certification.
Representative clients: Macy’s Department Stores, Marriott, AT&T, Chicago Center for Green Technology, The Field Museum, Gary Comer College Prep (Noble Network of Charter Schools), Chicago Public Library.
Licensed Professional Engineer in Illinois.
Member, USGBC Green Schools Advocacy Education/Research Committee. Also active in ASHRAE at both the chapter and national levels.
Regular presenter at industry events.
Volunteer, Canstruction Inc. and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Ron Santo Walk for a Cure.
Travel enthusiast. “Italy is a favorite vacation spot. The scenery is amazing, and you can eat bread, prosciutto, and cheese for every meal and still be considered normal.” Up next: Costa Rica.
Member of “Steak On A Plate” dinner group (aka “SOAP”), whose goal is to eat at every steakhouse in Chicago.
Self-labeled “bourbon snob”: “I can mix up a great bourbon Old Fashioned.”

Cx Expert


President, Principal Commissioning Agent, Energy Engineer
Building EnergetiCx, Huntersville, N.C.
AGE: 38
BS, Vermont Technical College
MS, Old Dominion University
Before founding Building EnergetiCx in 2011 was Regional Director for another firm. Currently responsible for directing, monitoring, and executing Building EnergetiCx’s commissioning, energy consulting, and green building consulting services.
Representative projects: SAS Institute, Frösunda Office Building, Solna, Sweden ($15 million); Becton Dickinson, East Coast Distribution Center, Four Oaks, N.C. ($38 million); Queens University, Rogers Science and Health Building, Charlotte, N.C. ($15 million).
Licensed Professional Engineer in Virginia and North Carolina.
Board member, USGBC North Carolina Chapter.
Member, Branch Leadership Group, USGBC North Carolina Charlotte Branch.
Founding board member and current Secretary, Association of Energy Engineers North Carolina Piedmont Chapter.
Volunteer, Operation Christmas Child, Charlotte Rescue Mission, church mission trips.
Competitive cornhole (bean bag) enthusiast. Last fall, the Building EnergetiCx team finished seventh out of 144 teams in a tournament benefiting Make-A-Wish.
Avid fantasy sports manager. “Mostly football now, but during my peak it was fantasy everything: football, baseball, basketball, NASCAR, golf, horse racing, fishing.”

Fire Protection Pro


Director, Los Angeles office
Hughes Associates Inc.
AGE: 35
BS, MS, Worcester (Mass.) Polytechnic Institute
Specialist in fire protection engineering and life safety code consulting. During 13 years at Hughes Associates, advanced to Director of the Los Angeles office at age 33; increased the branch’s revenue by nearly 75% within two years.
Representative projects: University of Rhode Island fire and life safety improvements ($50 million, four campuses, 80 buildings); World Trade Center Vehicle Roadway Network, New York City (fire protection systems); Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corp., New York and New Jersey (PATH subway system fire alarm review); Ronald Reagan State Office Building, Los Angeles (1 million sf, corrosion investigation for sprinkler and water systems).
Member, National Fire Protection Association (Principal on NFPA 20 Technical Committee), Society of Fire Protection Engineers, National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, Rhode Island Society of Professional Engineers (executive board, past president).
Participates in charity bike rides and runs, including the MS 100 Ride, Boston-to-New-York AIDS Ride, and Boston Marathon (benefiting the Fallen Firefighters Fund of Massachusetts).
Co-organizer, Ride New England for WHY ME/Sherry’s House (four-day, 400-mile event raising $5,000).
Marathoner, biker, triathlete, competitive adventure racer, and adventure sportsman (white water canoeing, rappelling). 
Other hobbies: vegetable gardening, carpentry, card playing.
Father completed two tours of duty in Vietnam so his father’s younger brother didn’t have to go. 

Add new comment

Your Information
Your Comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Refresh Type the characters you see in this picture. Type the characters you see in the picture; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.  Switch to audio verification.
Overlay Init