Are you originally from Kansas? What first interested you in bridge engineering?
I was born in Manhattan, KS (aka- The Little Apple) and raised in Olathe, KS. What first caught my interest in bridge design was when I would spend hours in the yard as a young boy armed with a kitchen spoon and my MatchBox cars digging tunnels in the soil. Some would see tunnels but I saw bridges and found myself pushing the limits by making them bigger and bigger.
With 19 years of engineering experience, what would you say is the biggest challenge you overcame during a project?
Every project has its challenges but the one that fascinated me the most would be S. 2nd Street Over Three Mile Creek in Leavenworth, KS. The new structure we were asked to design crosses a creek and an existing pedestrian bridge and would need to continue to accommodate the gas and water utilities. The structure is bound at one of the quadrants where an oil refinery was once located and now contains contaminated soil. The challenges were figuring out a way to remove the existing structure without damaging the existing pedestrian bridge, avoid providing places for birds to roost, maintain utility service during peak season, and avoid disturbing the contaminated soil. The existing structure was a concrete arch with roughly a 60 foot opening that was built in the 1920s which utilized counterforts in the abutment wing walls because of the height of soil it was designed to retain and was located inches from the existing pedestrian bridge. Solution, keep in place the existing concrete arch so it will retain the soil at an elevation that kept the construction limits above the existing pedestrian bridge and away from the contaminated soil, and then bridge the gap by utilizing 120 foot pre-stressed concrete adjacent box beams that would also house the utilities.
When you meet someone, without an engineering background, how do you describe your specialty as an engineer?
Death, taxes and bridges! Some of the few certainties in life. Without my bridge the road does us no good.
What do you look forward to each weekend?
I enjoy spending my weekends and PTO with my wife and two daughters. I also enjoy the thrill of the hunt that comes with scouring the city for vinyl records, 1970s rock is my favorite.