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40 Under 40 class of 2022 winners: Meet the engineers

40 Under 40

40 Under 40 class of 2022 winners: Meet the engineers

Eight rockstar engineers were honored as 40 Under 40 class of 2022 winners by the editors of Building Design+Construction.


By ROBERT CASSIDY, JOHN CAULFIELD, QUINN PURCELL, DAVID BARISTA | November 1, 2022
Pictured: Priyanka Valletta, PE, Project Manager and Civil Engineer with BRPH Architects-Engineers, based in the firm's Melbourne, Fla., office.
Pictured: Priyanka Valletta, PE, Project Manager and Civil Engineer with BRPH Architects-Engineers, based in the firm's Melbourne, Fla., office.

Last week, the editors of Building Design+Construction named the winners of the 17th Annual 40 Under 40 competition. Of the up-and-coming AEC professionals to be named to the class of 2022, eight make their living in the engineering profession. Meet the engineers below. 

View the entire 40 Under 40 Class of 2022. Check out the 40 Under 40 class of 2021 and 40 Under 40 class of 2020

Interested in submitting a candidate for the 2023 40 Under 40 awards? The entry materials will be posted at https://www.bdcnetwork.com/bdc-awards-programs in early February 2023. Reminders will be posted regularly in the BD+C Daily 5 newsletter. Sign up for our free BD+C Daily 5 daily newsletter

 

MEET THE ENGINEERS - 40 UNDER 40 CLASS OF 2022
 

 

 

CULINARY ENGINEER

Stephanie DeCotiis, PE, Senior Associate, Discipline Engineer, Water Resources, H2M architects + engineers, BD+C 40 Under 40 Class of 2022 winner

Stephanie DeCotiis, PE
Senior Associate, Discipline Engineer, Water Resources
H2M architects + engineers
Wall Township, N.J.

AGE: 36

EDUCATION
Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering, The College of New Jersey

ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Has nearly 15 years of experience as a mechanical engineer, field engineer, and project manager

Specialist in the design and project management of water and wastewater projects, including water and sewage treatment and pumping, well construction and rehabilitation, elevated and ground storage, water distribution, sewer collections, and power generation

Inaugural Chair of H2M Women’s Leadership Employee Resource Group. “I’ve initiated lectures and a lunchtime brown bag series to prompt discussions on diversity related topics such as gender equality and parenting as a professional.”

Notable projects include the Well No. 25 Water Treatment Plant, Monroe Township (N.J.) Utility Department; the New Well No. 18 for the London Drive Water Treatment Plant, Jackson Township, N.J.; and enhancements at two wastewater pump stations as part of a FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Reconstruction project

EXTRACURRICULARS
Deputy Speaker, Past Special Senator, and multiple committee roles, Society of Women Engineers

Member, New Jersey American Water Works Association

Member, New Jersey Water Environment Association

Launched an annual blood drive in honor of her brother-in-law’s triumph over a rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, providing support during the holidays when blood supply levels are traditionally very low.

OFF THE CLOCK
Loves to cook and bake. Once took a week’s vacation to attend Culinary Boot Camp at the Culinary Institute of America. “I have a very strong interest in the how’s and whys of cooking and baking, and often find people rolling their eyes at me when I jump into the science of their recipe, or other science-based tidbits related to food. Want to talk about the difference between baking soda and baking powder, when it matters to use actual buttermilk, how pH impacts the results of your dish, or what exactly happens that makes your urine smell after eating asparagus? I’m your girl.”

SECRET LIFE
During the beginning of the pandemic, she and her spouse produced several thousand pieces of PPE using 3D printers in their basement as part of a statewide volunteer group, SOMA 3D Printers Alliance

Her mother once worked at a factory that made Girl Scout cookies. “She often talked about how delicious Thin Mints are warm right off the line.”

WHAT IS THE SINGLE BEST PIECE OF CAREER OR BUSINESS ADVICE YOU HAVE RECEIVED?
“Find mentors and be a mentor. I’ve had mentoring relationships with various people throughout my career. Some of them have been formal programs, but many others have just been informal, and progressed into deeper friendships as we got to know each other. My mentors have helped me see a future vision for myself in my career beyond the steps that are right in front of me. I’ve also made a point of giving back and have served as a mentor in my alma mater’s alumni mentoring program, where alumni are paired with upperclassmen to provide guidance on the transition from collegiate to professional life—beyond the day-to-day mentoring I provide my team and other staff in my department.”

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR SINGLE BIGGEST PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT SO FAR?
“Far and away, the work I am most proud of, and I consider a very big achievement is my advocacy for women and underrepresented groups in engineering through my involvement with the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). Beginning in college, and extending throughout my professional career, I have been active in SWE in various roles, both locally and for the Society at large. I am deeply connected to, and invested in, the success of SWE’s new governance model, which I helped develop as a member of the Governance Task Force (GTF). Participating on the GTF was a highlight of my SWE career, and its recommendations, I believe, will pave the way for SWE to further our goals. Of specific note, because of my own development through leadership opportunities within SWE, I strongly support the GTF’s goal of creating a structure to improve meaningful leadership pathways for all members.”

 

 

 

 

ENGINEER EXTRAORDINAIRE

Dan Fox, SE, Associate, Project Manager, MHP Structural Engineers, BD+C 40 Under 40 Class of 2022 winner

Dan Fox, SE
Associate, Project Manager
MHP Structural Engineers
Long Beach, Calif.

AGE: 39

EDUCATION
Bachelor of Science, Architectural Engineering, California Polytechnic State University

ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Manages a team of five to eight engineers and is currently responsible for more than 130 active projects. Oversees projects through the construction document, plan review, and construction phases

Heavily involved in recruiting for the firm, business development, and the production and progression of the company’s standards. Attends four to six career fairs yearly and conducts most of the company’s interviews for both full-time and internship positions

Notable projects include the two-story, 64,000-sf Santa Ana (Calif.) College Johnson Center, which features an architecturally expressive structural steel system; the Orange Coast College Planetarium Building; and the net-zero energy, LEED Platinum-certified CSU Long Beach College of Professional & International Education Building

EXTRACURRICULARS
Director, Board of Directors, Education Committee Member, Past Chairperson, Structural Engineers Association of Southern California

Mentor, ACE Mentor Program of America

OFF THE CLOCK
An ex-mountain bike racer, he has raced mountain bikes in seven different states and two countries. “The clear favorite is Whistler Mountain in Canada.”

Other hobbies: golf, coaching soccer and tee-ball, and remodeling his home

SECRET LIFE
His son and daughter are “getting close to fluent” in both Mandarin and Spanish. “They attend a multi-lingual emersion school. I’m learning new words from them daily!”

He once went on a seven-day whitewater rafting expedition in Idaho, “packing not much more than a sleeping bag.”

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR SINGLE BIGGEST PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT SO FAR?
“Five years into my career, I had the opportunity to engineer the Orange Coast College Planetarium Building in Costa Mesa, Calif. This complex building took on the appearance of a spiral galaxy with curved steel-framed roof wings radiating out from a 70-foot-diameter central concrete dome. The project was awarded the prestigious Structural Engineers Association Excellence in Structural Engineering Award at both the Southern California and California Statewide levels.”

WHAT IS THE SINGLE BEST PIECE OF CAREER OR BUSINESS ADVICE YOU HAVE RECEIVED?
“I don’t think I can isolate just one:

  • Don’t chase every nickel early in your career. Put in the time to learn the technical to set yourself up for making the buck later in your career.
  • Look for and accept any opportunity to practice public speaking.
  • Ask lots of questions. Don’t feel like you’re ‘bothering’ your managers. It’s their job to answer your questions and assist.”

 

 

 

 

RESILIENCE CRUSADER

Breanna Gribble, CHMM, ENV SP, WEDG, WELL AP, Fitwel Ambassador, Senior Resilience Manager, STV, BD+C 40 Under 40 Class of 2022 winner

Breanna Gribble, CHMM, ENV SP, WEDG, WELL AP, Fitwel Ambassador
Senior Resilience Manager
STV
New York, N.Y.

AGE: 36

EDUCATION
Master of Science, Urban Systems Engineering and Management, New York University Tandon School of Engineering

Bachelor of Science, Geophysics, Southern Methodist University

Bachelor of Fine Arts, Dance Performance, Southern Methodist University

ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Developed and implemented a company-wide strategy to establish a resilience practice at STV

Advises STV teams on multi-hazard resilient design and performance resilience assessments

Past program manager for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s $150 million Flood Mitigation and Resilience Improvements program

Inaugural Co-chair of STV’s first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Council, formed in early 2021

While working for the New York City Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation, she coordinated the emergency spill response and damage assessments for the state from Superstorm Sandy

Notable projects include the $250 million, 350,000-sf Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Quincy (Mass.) Bus Maintenance Facility (role: sustainability and resilience specialist), and the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission (PVSC) Wastewater Facility Perimeter Floodwall, Newark, N.J. (planning manager)

EXTRACURRICULARS
Resilience Committee, National Council of Structural Engineers Associations

Compound Flood Subcommittee, Committee for a Changing Climate, American Society of Civil Engineers

Founding Member, Finance & Guidance, Tools, and Standards subcommittees, International Coalition for Sustainable Infrastructure

Resilience Committee, Structural Engineers Association of New York

Member, Design for Risk & Reconstruction Committee, AIA New York

Volunteer, Bridges to Prosperity (built a pedestrian footbridge in Panama)

OFF THE CLOCK
Associate Artistic Director and dancer in the Mari Meade Dance Collective

Joined a triathlon team and competed in her first event this June

SECRET LIFE
Her path into the AEC industry started with dancing. “While working in a dance studio, I met another dancing geologist! She worked in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration. This serendipitous meeting resulted in a wonderful friendship, internship, and a job in the construction industry.”

Choreographed television commercials for Puma Mexico, the athletic apparel company

Her sister, Richelle Ellis, is one of the first “space-artists.” “Her artwork has flown to space aboard rockets, etched on satellites, floating in the International Space Station, and attached to a lunar lander. She is known as creating the largest airborne sculpture to fly to the stratosphere and is training to be an astronaut.”

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR SINGLE BIGGEST PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT SO FAR?
“Teaching people about resilience and contributing to this emerging field is extraordinarily fulfilling for me. Recently, I managed the first phase of a project to develop resilience metrics for a transportation agency’s capital delivery department—the first project of its kind in the nation. I consider this my biggest professional achievement to date because it contributes to the emerging field of resilience in a way that will help shape the future.”

WHAT IS THE SINGLE BEST PIECE OF CAREER OR BUSINESS ADVICE YOU HAVE RECEIVED?
“Frustrated by a disorganized work environment, I asked my mentor at the time, Connie Crawford, for advice. She suggested that I reframe my situation as a ‘leadership vacuum,’ and encouraged me to step up and lead the group out of disfunction. This piece of advice motivated me to take an active role in being part of the solution. Looking back, it was a pivotal moment in my career.”

 

 

 

 

PHARMA DESIGN MASTER 

Aseem Gupta, PE, PMP, LEED AP, Project Manager, Genesis, BD+C 40 Under 40 Class of 2022 winner

Aseem Gupta, PE, PMP, LEED AP
Project Manager
Genesis
Carlsbad, Calif.

AGE: 38

EDUCATION
Master of Science, Mechanical Engineering, University of Bridgeport

Bachelor of Science, Power Engineering, Nagpur University

ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Extensive experience designing critical drug manufacturing pharmaceutical facilities, including labs, vivariums, institutional training labs, and BSL3 cleanrooms

Worked on the Catalent Fill Line Project, Bloomington, Ind., in 2020-21, which was part of Operation Warp Speed to develop the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine

While at PBS Engineers, advanced from intern to lead engineer in just five years

Recent notable projects: USC Ellison Cancer Research Institute, Los Angeles; the Takeda Chiller Replacement Project, Glendale, Calif.; and Johnson & Johnson’s DPDS Chemistry and Biology Lab in San Diego

EXTRACURRICULARS
Board Member, International Institute of Sustainable Labs, San Diego Chapter

San Diego Chapter member, American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers; International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering; Life Science Association of California

OFF THE CLOCK
Avid hiker; memorable treks include Rim to Rim (Grand Canyon, Calif.) and Cactus to Clouds (San Jacinto Peak, Palm Springs, Calif.)

Enjoys cricket, golf, mountain biking, tennis, and landscape photography. “My work has been displayed at the Del Mar Fair in San Diego and in the Photographic Arts Building, Balboa Park, San Diego.”

SECRET LIFE
His daughter, Anjni, was able to speak three languages at the age of five: English, Gujrati, and Hindi

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR SINGLE BIGGEST PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT SO FAR?
“One of the biggest professional achievements for me was to design the state-of-art Catalent Fill Line Project, which is currently being used for commercial manufacturing of the Covid-19 vaccine. The project was part of Operation Warp Speed. Being part of the design team for this high-impact, fast-paced project made me realize how important my role as an engineer could be, and how I can make a difference by giving back to the community.”

WHAT IS THE SINGLE BEST PIECE OF CAREER OR BUSINESS ADVICE YOU HAVE RECEIVED?
“The best of advice for me comes from the well-known quote by Mahatma Gandhi, ‘Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.’ This is something I follow for both my personal and professional life. Something that keeps me motivated and curious to continuously learn in life.”

 

 

 

 

ELECTRIFYING ENGINEER

Charlie Marino, CEA, LEED AP O+M, Partner, Co-Director, Energy + Performance Team, AKF, BD+C 40 Under 40 Class of 2022 winner

Charlie Marino, CEA, LEED AP O+M
Partner; Co-Director, Energy + Performance Team
AKF
New York, N.Y.

AGE: 39

EDUCATION
Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering, Manhattan College

ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Established AKF’s Energy Services group in 2013, dedicated to analyzing building energy use and providing solutions for affordable energy optimization

Successfully merged the Energy Services group with the firm’s high-performance building lab in 2019 to form AKF Energy + Performance. The group evaluates ways to improve energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions, and leverage incentives for retrofit projects

Made Partner at the firm in January 2022 in recognition of his decade spent furthering the firm’s energy pursuits

Notable projects include a 10-building, 7.8 million-sf energy audit and retro-commissioning effort for Rockefeller Center, New York, and decarbonization planning for the 51-story 1221 Avenue of the Americas tower in New York

EXTRACURRICULARS
As a liaison from ASHRAE New York to the NYC Mayor’s Office 80x50 Technical Working Group, he chaired the commercial sector’s initiative to reduce NYC buildings’ greenhouse gas emissions 80% by the year 2050

Board Member, ASHRAE New York chapter

Board Member, Building Energy Exchange

OFF THE CLOCK
Enjoys listening to music and sharing his favorite albums with his son. “I was in a few bands through high school and college and music remains a passion of mine.”

SECRET LIFE
His great uncle, Guelfo Ammon d’Este, was an artist who studied under Pablo Picasso in Paris in the 1920s. “After he passed away in the late 1980s, we learned his name was actually Gerasimos Steris (Greek, not French).” His work is shown in galleries throughout Greece today

WHAT IS THE SINGLE BEST PIECE OF CAREER OR BUSINESS ADVICE YOU HAVE RECEIVED?
“Find a career you can be passionate about and put in the time; There are no shortcuts to success.”

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR SINGLE BIGGEST PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT SO FAR?
“Helping amazing historic institutions and campuses, such as Rockefeller Center and the American Museum of Natural History, develop a roadmap toward decarbonization while improving energy efficiency has been tremendously rewarding.”

 

 

 

 

ELECTRIC LEADER

Kelsey Rowe, PE, CLD, Partner, Electrical Engineer, Design Collaborative, BD+C 40 Under 40 Class of 2022 winner

Kelsey Rowe, PE, CLD
Partner, Electrical Engineer
Design Collaborative
Fort Wayne, Ind.

AGE: 35

EDUCATION
Bachelor of Science, Architectural Engineering, University of Kansas

ACCOMPLISHMENTS
First female partner in her firm (2022)

Certified Lighting Designer, IALD

Leads a team of 6+ engineers in electrical project design

Recruits, trains, and oversees all new electrical hires

Responsible for project oversight management, facilities assessments, and building reports

2020 Excellence in Construction award from the Building Contractors Association of Northeast Indiana (New Construction, >$6 million)

EXTRACURRICULAR
Director at large, Girl Scouts of Northern Indiana

Board member, IFMA Northeast Indiana

Industry Advisory Committee, Purdue Fort Wayne

Steering Committee, Young Professionals of the Building Contractors Association

OFF THE CLOCK
Enjoys thrift shopping with her two daughters

Does canning and preserving fruits and vegetables from her garden to make blackberry plum jam, apple pie filling, and homegrown canned green beans

Attends car shows and cruise-ins at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg factory, Auburn, Ind., “The Home of the Classics”

SECRET LIFE
“My grandfather was stationed in Africa during World War II, helping to send and receive messages in Morse code. I typed up and compiled all of his handwritten stories.”

Spent >75 nights as an undergrad holding her team’s spot in line for Jayhawk basketball seats, especially KU’s 2007-2008 NCAA Championship season

WHAT IS THE BEST CAREER OR BUSINESS ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?
“My parents always encouraged me to ‘step outside your comfort zone.’ It inspires me to seek professional growth, from participating in Dale Carnegie classes to signing up for a golf outing when I don’t know how to golf.”

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR SINGLE BIGGEST PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT SO FAR?
“In 2021 I was named partner in our firm. I am the first female to be named to this role. I am also the sole electrical engineer in the group of partners. This platform gives me an opportunity to bridge the gender gap in big and small ways.”

 

 

 

 

BUILDING SCIENCE CHAMPION 

Cheryl Saldanha, PE, CPHD, Senior Project Manager, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, BD+C 40 Under 40 Class of 2022 winner

Cheryl Saldanha, PE, CPHD
Senior Project Manager
Simpson Gumpertz & Heger
New York, N.Y.

AGE: 36

EDUCATION
Bachelor of Science, Civil Engineering, University of Waterloo

ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Leads SGH’s Building Science practice, managing 90 professionals across all offices and staff levels. Work includes establishing and disseminating technical standards, growing the firm’s technical capabilities, sharing best practices, supporting professional development, and pursuing research opportunities

Heads SGH’s Environmental Stewardship program, a new role focused on improving internal business and operational practices

Developed new service offerings in building science, energy modeling, daylighting, Passive House, sustainability, and low-energy practices

Helped to shape project management and financial literacy training for SGH staff

Specializes in the design and evaluation of building enclosures for new construction projects, and in the investigation and renovation of building enclosures for existing buildings

EXTRACURRICULARS
Advisory Committee, New York City Energy Conservation Code

Co-chair, New York Chapter, International Building Performance Simulation Association

Presented or co-presented 44 times at local and national industry conferences

Promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion by listening to staff concerns and sharing personal insights and experiences, particularly through internal women’s groups

OFF THE CLOCK
Has participated in 15 runs and stair climbs for charities, including the Special Olympics Lincoln Tunnel Run and the Terry Fox Run

Loves to garden in her building’s 2,300-sf rooftop garden; volunteers six hours/week on the leadership committee

Passionate about her hometown Toronto professional sports teams: Blue Jays, Maple Leafs, Raptors. “I celebrated the Raptors’ 2019 championship win in Times Square and a clip of our celebration even made it on the CBC (Canadian national TV broadcaster)!”

SECRET LIFE
Her grandfather was a musical savant who taught himself to play the violin, saxophone, trumpet, guitar, drums, piano, and organ. “During the pandemic, I invested in an 88-key electric piano and have started teaching myself to play. He would be proud!”

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR SINGLE BIGGEST PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT SO FAR?
“NYC Energy Code Technical Advisory Committee: After encountering understandable resistance from clients due to various project constraints, I decided to go ‘upstream’ to make our energy code—and in turn, all buildings—better. I enjoy interacting with different stakeholders and hearing different perspectives from those involved. Policy development is rewarding work. I am glad for the opportunity to contribute!”

WHAT IS THE SINGLE BEST PIECE OF CAREER OR BUSINESS ADVICE YOU HAVE RECEIVED?
“’It’s difficult to be something you cannot see. But once you see it, you can imagine yourself there.’ I’m not sure who said this, but it really resonates with me. Mentors are a big part of my career story—I have many, and I try to emulate those qualities which I admire most in each person. As a manager, it is now my turn to listen and my responsibility to push for progress. I now look for opportunities to pay it forward, empowering others to success the way my mentors empowered me.”

 

 

 

 

ROCKSTAR ENGINEER 

Priyanka Valletta, PE, Project Manager, Civil Engineer, BRPH Architects-Engineers, BD+C 40 Under 40 Class of 2022 winner

Priyanka Valletta, PE
Project Manager, Civil Engineer
BRPH Architects-Engineers
Melbourne, Fla.

AGE: 31

EDUCATION
Bachelor of Science, Civil Engineering, Florida Institute of Technology

ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Portfolio includes large-scale planning, program management, condition assessments, and civil design for new construction, renovation, and expansion projects across the U.S.

On the team for the Gateway to Space project at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Current project: a 500-acre master plan with NASA, Space Florida, and the National Wildlife Refuge to develop comprehensive wetland strategies for continued aerospace development at KSC while preserving wetland and sensitive habitat areas

EXTRACURRICULAR
Past president, ASCE Cape Canaveral branch board

Board Member, National Space Club Florida Committee

Volunteer, Higher Orbits – Go For Launch Competition

OFF THE CLOCK
Plays electric violin in the rock band Positive Chaos. Latest album: “Apprehensive Time Traveler’s Club: Departures.”

CrossFit enthusiast and does Pilates 5 times a week

New mom (daughter Ahsoka, 1)

SECRET LIFE
Has been a member of ASCE since junior high school. Took part in the Future Cities Competition, designing a city on Mars

Her grandfather, a Pakistani refugee at the time of India’s independence, wrote poetry under the name Ved Prakash, which the family subsequently adopted as their last name

WHAT IS THE BEST CAREER OR BUSINESS ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?
“One of my first projects was designing infrastructure in a highly corrosive semi-submerged marine environment. Preparing for our first presentation to a group of seasoned Navy engineers, I was nervous: Was I picking the right materials? Would our systems withstand the harsh environment? My husband, an aerospace engineer, said, ‘You don’t hire an engineer because they know all the answers—you hire an engineer because they can figure them out.’ Since then, if I ever find myself overwhelmed, I remind myself of that.”

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR SINGLE BIGGEST PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT SO FAR?
“I was so honored that one of the first projects I signed and sealed was the Gateway to Space project at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. I love the intent of the attraction—it is a showcase of ‘new space,’ showcasing achievements in commercial space as well as new NASA missions to explore deep space. It serves to educate and inspire the public and next generation of engineers and space enthusiasts!” 

 

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40 Under 40

Meet the 40 Under 40 class of 2022

Each year, the editors of Building Design+Construction honor 40 architects engineers, contractors, and real estate developers as BD+C 40 Under 40 awards winners. These AEC professionals are recognized for their career achievements, passion for the AEC profession, involvement with AEC industry organizations, and service to their communities.

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