Profiles in Leadership

Narratives of the 2017 Georgia Engineer of the Year Award Winners

By Kasie Bolling

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The Engineer of the Year Awards, presented annually by the Georgia Society of Professional Engineers (GSPE), are designed to recognize individuals in Georgia’s engineering industry for outstanding contributions to the field. From lifetime influencers to promising graduates, the ten winners for 2017 best exemplify the role engineers play in ensuring the safety, productivity and well-being of the public through design and volunteer efforts.

Lifetime Achievement in Engineering


Willmer Engineering, Inc.

With more than 40 years invested in the engineering industry – 35 of those spent at the helm of her own firm – Doris Willmer’s roots run deep in the City of Atlanta: not just in terms of the impressive list of projects her firm has undertaken, but also in the relationships she has forged. As Founder, President and Principal Consultant at Willmer Engineering, Inc., she takes her company’s credo – “building relationships from the ground up” – to heart. A natural leader, Willmer seeks to not only foster the professional growth of her own team members, but also has a hand in the growth of the industry in Georgia and the viability of its future. “My entire career has been about enjoying my clients and the work I do. After all, if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with, why do it?” she says.

Understanding the importance of her role as a pioneering female engineer and drawing from her experience as a former Girl Scout Troop leader, Willmer brings a similar sense of leadership and empowerment to an upcoming generation of prospective engineers through programs such as Introduce a Girl to Engineering (IAG), internships for undergraduate students of the University of Georgia’s fledgling civil engineering department and the Georgia Institute of Technology’s (Georgia Tech) cooperative education program – through which her firm has sponsored 37 young men and women with work opportunities for alternating semesters since 1995. She and her husband, Jim, also sponsor the Doris I. and James L. Willmer Endowed Scholarship in Civil and Environmental Engineering for Women at the University of Illinois – her alma mater where she was elected to Chi Epsilon and Tau Beta Pi engineering honor societies.

As far as the development of her own team members is concerned, Willmer is responsible for the planning and organization of the firm’s in-house technical training conducted by Willmer University. She also spearheaded the writing and implementation of its project management handbook for emerging leaders entitled Project Management, the Willmer Way. “At Willmer Engineering, we find joy in collaborating with our clients and one another. That makes everything else – such as overcoming challenges that might pop up along the way – easy,” she adds.

Willmer’s involvement in the industry at large is perhaps most apparent in her affiliations with professional associations and civic councils. Involved with the American Council of Engineering Companies of Georgia (ACEC Georgia) since the late 1990’s, she served as President from 2007-2008 and as National Director from 2009-2010. She has also served on the PAC Committee since 2008 and is a Fellow at ACEC National. In addition to her responsibility for the 2014-2017 Strategic Plan, she is a Trustee of ACEC’s Business Insurance Trust, as well as a Marketing Task Force member and Emerging Insurance Trends Task Force Chair. Willmer also boasts memberships with the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and Georgia/National Society of Professional Engineers. In 2003, she was appointed to the Georgia Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors by the Governor of Georgia, where she served five years with the last two as Chair of the Board. She currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Council for Quality Growth in Atlanta, serving on the Membership Task Force and Government Affairs Task Force.

The 2017 GSPE Lifetime Achievement in Engineering Award is far from Willmer’s first honor. She was most recently recognized as ASCE Georgia Section’s Civil Engineer of the Year in 2015, but also has several ACEC

Georgia President’s Awards, an ACEC Georgia Lifetime Achievement Award and a GSPE Engineer of the Year in Private Practice Award to her credit – among others. Her firm’s legacy for award-winning projects includes the provision of geotechnical engineering services and construction materials testing/special inspection services for H-JAIA’s Consolidated Rental Agency Complex (CONRAC) – named as one of the country’s most innovative, unique, and challenging construction projects by the Building of America Network.

“In addition to being technically excellent at what one does, I believe – to be considered for an honor like a Lifetime Achievement Award – it’s important to do things outside of the scope of your work. Doris Willmer has done just that throughout the course of her career,” says Marsha Anderson Bomar, P.E., Executive Director of the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District and longtime friend of Willmer. “She served with distinction on the ACEC Georgia Board, tackling the challenging task of updating the governance of the organization. She served on the P.E. licensing board, to which only people of high integrity and technical excellence are appointed. Most importantly, she has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to encouraging young people – particularly young women – to consider engineering as a career. Through internships and mentoring, Doris is committed to ensuring that there are generations behind her who uphold the same values and dedication to excellence that she does.”

Georgia Engineer of the Year


O’Brien & Gere

In recognition of his tireless dedication to the profession of engineering, Daniel Agramonte, P.E., M.ASCE was named the overall Georgia Engineer of the Year. A Senior Managing Engineer for O’Brien & Gere, he boasts nearly 30 years of professional, technical and design experience and is a licensed Professional Engineer in 25 states.

Armed with a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from the University of Miami, Agramonte set out to contribute to the industry on a number of fronts. He first served as Civil Engineering officer for the Air Force where he oversaw construction programs while stationed at Howard AFB in Panama and at Soto Cano AB in Honduras. At Chanute AFB in Illinois, he managed a team of 14 environmental professionals and oversaw environmental affairs including the removal of 73 aboveground and underground storage tanks and closure of a hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facility. As if all that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, during this time he also attended and graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Master’s Degree in environmental engineering. That early devotion demonstrated as a young engineer has continued throughout his colorful career – which includes turns at American National Can and General Electric before his move to Atlanta in 2001 to join JM Huber.

In 2011, Agramonte joined O’Brien & Gere where he focuses his practice on Fortune 100 clients and their environmental compliance across the nation. Those efforts support the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and numerous other environmental regulatory frameworks. He also directly oversees a five-person, Atlanta-based team and typically generates over $1 million in annual consulting revenue. “Dan is a highly-motivated individual and his diverse background – military, industry and consulting – gives him a unique perspective on solving problems by tailoring a solution to fit the needs of a client,” says Matthew Traister, P.E., Vice President at O’Brien & Gere. “His clients hold him in high regard and consider him (and his team) as an extension of their staff. As a consultant, that is the highest compliment possible from a client!”

Agramonte is proud of his involvement with ASCE, where he has served on the Georgia Section’s Board of Directors for nearly seven years. Through his relationship with the ASCE Georgia Section, Agramonte has been involved in several humanitarian efforts, such as the Nicaraguan outreach in 2015 and 2016, as well as a number of STEM outreach initiatives for Georgia’s youth. His role with the Georgia Section’s Board also made him an integral part of both the 2009 and 2014 Georgia Infrastructure Report Cards – the latter of which he co-chaired and served as spokesman for the Report Card Committee. It is widely held that the committee’s efforts and public outreach – which included 15 media interviews with Agramonte – helped contribute to the passage of Georgia House Bill 170 in 2015, lauded for reinvigorating the focus on and funding of Georgia’s infrastructure.

“It is indeed an honor and a privilege to be recognized as GSPE’s Engineer of the Year. While we focus on engineering in our ‘day jobs,’ it always comes down to people – and I’m very appreciative of my family, team

members at OBG and the folks who have served with me on the ASCE Georgia Section’s Board of Directors, which I’ve been privileged to be a part of for over seven years,” says Agramonte.

Engineer of the Year: Construction


Barge, Waggoner, Sumner & Cannon, Inc.

As Director of Production Quality for Barge, Waggoner, Sumner and Cannon, Inc. (BWSC), Wayne Price, P.E. is able to apply his nearly 40 years of experience in construction engineering, standardized policy and procedure development on virtually a daily basis. A licensed Professional Engineer in the states of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee, he is also a Certified Construction Specifier and a MasterFormat Accredited Instructor per the Construction Specifications Institute.

Price credits his father, and time spent working during his youth at the family survey firm in Augusta, for making him a surveyor by trade, and Georgia Tech for making him an engineer by degree after earning his Bachelor of Science in civil engineering there. In the time between graduation and his current role at BWSC, Price worked for the same firm – Jordan, Jones & Goulding (acquired by Jacobs Engineering Group in 2010) – for 36 years.

He believes the most significant engineering achievement of his career was the consistent conduct of a standardized Specification Production, Procurement and Construction Contracting process for countless clients at a single firm, which touched nearly 1,000 projects over a 20-year period, with a construction value in excess of $3.4 billion – earning him the respect of his co-workers, clients and colleagues in the construction industry.

Engineer of the Year: Education


Kennesaw State University

As a new graduate with a Bachelor of Science, Engineering degree in architectural engineering and a Master of Science in Civil Engineering degree in structural engineering from Purdue University, Nancy Turner, P.E. launched her career as a Structures Engineer at Lockheed Martin. Within three years, she was promoted to Senior Aircraft Structures Engineer and awarded independent work on a top-secret project. After five years with Lockheed Martin, she left the industry engineering world behind in favor of a career in education and never looked back.

Now as a Senior Lecturer and Faculty Advisor for the Civil and Construction Engineering Department at Kennesaw State University (KSU), she celebrates a quarter of a century in academia fostering the next generation of engineers. In addition to being a hands-on lecturer in the classroom, Turner serves a Faculty Advisor for KSU Student Chapter of ASCE and KSU ASCE Competition Team. Under her leadership, the Competition Team has advanced their ranking to fifth from tenth place out of 26 schools that compete at the Southeast conference each spring. She regularly encourages and joins her students in reaching beyond the KSU campus to the community through competition, club-sponsored service projects and environmentally-based activities.

Teaching 15 credit hours per semester, Turner is wholly dedicated to imparting knowledge to her students. She has taught and developed courses in Mechanics, Structures and Construction Materials for the departments of Civil Engineering Technology, Construction Management, Architecture and Mechanical Engineering Technology, as well as her current department of Civil and Construction Engineering. She finds great satisfaction in the prospect of influencing thousands of engineers through education and engagement.

Engineer of the Year: Government


City of Savannah

Holding a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from the University of Maine and nearly 30 years of progressive civil engineering design, construction and management experience, Julie McLean, P.E. has spent the last 14 years with the City of Savannah. In a City well-known for its historic significance, McLean has made more than a little history herself. Not only was she the first female Professional Engineer hired by the City of Savannah when she was added to the staff in 2002, but when she was promoted to the role of City Engineer, she became the first female to hold that position since its inception in 1890.

Also acting as the City’s Development Services Director, she serves the public by ensuring the safety of the built environment through effective permitting, inspections and code enforcement, and by providing guidance and oversight for all private development within Savannah. She has personally managed infrastructure and building construction projects totaling more than $50 million, and overseen the building permitting and inspection program for construction projects totaling over $2 billion.

McLean is an active member of ASCE, the Georgia Association of Water Professionals (GAWP), the Water Environment Foundation (WEF), the American Water Works Association and the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce. She also regularly volunteers for Clean Coast, a Savannah-based, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization devoted to combating marine debris by holding monthly beach and marsh cleanups on the Georgia Coast.

Engineer of the Year: Industry


Hayward Baker Inc.

On staff at Hayward Baker Inc. for more than 20 years, John Wolosick, P.E., M.ASCE is responsible for engineering design and business development support for all of the Hayward Baker offices nationwide. Now serving as the firm’s Director of Engineering, he is an acknowledged leader and innovator in the fields of earth retention, underpinning and unusual foundations. His projects run the gamut from highways, transit structures and nuclear power plants, to museums, hospitals and historic sites, just to name a few.

Having been part of the Atlanta engineering scene since 1979, Wolosick’s fingerprints are all over key projects throughout the City, including design and installation of the first tieback walls in Georgia on the Interstate 75/Interstate 85 connector, installation of the first soil nail wall in Atlanta at the old Home Depot site on Piedmont Road, the innovative Micropile Abutment at the new 5th Street bridge over the Interstate 75/Interstate 85 connector at Georgia Tech and the recent re-leveling of the MARTA North Line track slabs.

Dedicated to advancing the industry, his authorship of over 50 publications is nearly as long and diverse as his project list. He also serves as President of the Deep Foundations Institute (DFI) geotechnical organization and is an active member of ASCE – serving on several committees. Wolosick holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and a Master of Science in Civil Engineering – Geotechnology from the University of Illinois.

Engineer of the Year: Private Practice


Uzun + Case, LLC

With more than 30 years of engineering experience, a slew of design awards and an excellent reputation for his numerous contributions to the field of structural engineering, design and building codes at the national, state and local levels, Hutton currently serves as Principal at Uzun + Case, LLC. A fixture in the Atlanta engineering world since he moved to the City after graduating from Duke University, this Kentuckian found his true calling in structural engineering. From there, his career included turns at Lockwood Greene – on two separate occasions – and John Portman and Associates. He is a registered Professional Engineer in Georgia, Kentucky and New Hampshire, and a registered Structural Engineer in seven additional states.

Some of Hutton’s most notable, innovative and award-winning projects span from East to West coasts of the United States and include the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in Merrimac, N.H., the German Ambassador’s Residence in Washington, D.C., Lucent Technologies (OFS) in Norcross, Ga., the Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Fuel Facility in Ogden, Utah, Embarcadero Center West in San Francisco, Calif., South Carolina State Science Museum Planetarium in Columbia, S.C., and Georgia Tech’s Hinman Building Rehabilitation in Atlanta, Ga. In addition, his involvement in The Coca-Cola Concentrate Plant in Ballina, Ireland and International Waterfront Centre in the Port of Spain, Trinidad gives his work global reach.

A leader in the structural engineering community, both regionally and nationally, Hutton is a Past President of the Structural Engineers Association of Georgia and the ASCE Georgia Section Structural Technical Group. He is a widely-recognized expert on building codes, seismic design, wind engineering and storm shelter design and continually seeks to contribute to the betterment of the engineering profession.

Young Engineer of the Year


Southeastern Engineering

A Senior Project Manager at Southeastern Engineering, Julie Secrist, P.E. not only earned this year’s distinction as the Young Engineer of the Year, but was also recognized in 2015 as the Young Civil Engineer of the Year by ASCE Georgia Section. Already making history with a little over a decade in the industry, she and her father, Jim Secrist, were inducted simultaneously into the Order of the Engineer in 2006 – the only known parent and child to do so. A third-generation engineer, she follows in the footsteps of her grandfather and father – although it’s a house divided when it comes to alma maters. Her grandfather graduated from Georgia Tech, while she holds a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Engineering from The University of Georgia.

Throughout her young career, she has had a hand in some high-profile endeavors, including civil engineering projects at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. In her role with Southeastern Engineering, Secrist leads all civil department projects including aviation, site development, large-scale mixed-use developments and commercial developments.

One of her most unique projects provided the Georgia Department of Transportation with an innovative asset management system to identify, track and liquidate excess right-of-way remaining from building roads and other infrastructure. Established and led by Secrist, this project put nearly 17,000 properties totaling an estimated $250 million back into the taxable system. She is well-respected for her rapid career development, professional leadership, strategic vision, long list of professional affiliations and devotion to community outreach.

Engineering Student of the Year


The University of Georgia

Being a contributing member of a team is an important component of engineering – a lesson Iain Risk has learned early in life. An active member of the Student Chapter of ASCE at the University of Georgia (UGA) since its inception, Risk has served as Treasurer and President over the course of the last four years. Under his leadership as President, the Chapter saw its most significant growth and maturity since its inception. He was also given the opportunity to communicate directly with engineering professionals to arrange events and presentations. Some of those events included a construction site tour of UGA’s new athletic facility by DPR Construction, a construction tour of UGA’s new Terry College of Business by Turner Construction and professional presentations by Brewer Engineering and Willett Engineering Company.

Risk also led 21 other students in their chapter’s first attendance at the ASCE Carolinas Conference. While there, the group competed in the surveying competition, the quiz bowl and the geotechnical competition – for which they won an award. Last summer, through ASCE and Rivers of the World, he took part in a trip to Nicaragua to help design and build a footbridge across a ravine that separated a large community in a remote part of the country. He was the only student member of the team, which included four professional engineers.

For the last two years, he has served as an engineering intern with L.B. Foster Piling. Following his graduation in May, Risk has already been tapped to join the team at Whiting-Turner as a Project Engineer. He looks forward to becoming a young professional member of ASCE’s Georgia Section.

Engineering Technology Student of the Year


Savannah State University

If leadership and involvement are early indications of future success, Brandon Davis is already well on his way. A student at Savannah State University, Davis has already demonstrated a clear aptitude for leadership on campus. He has served as Vice President of the Student Chapter of ASCE, President of the Savannah State University Student Athlete Advisory Committee and Captain of the Savannah State University Track Team. His wealth of activities and honors include membership in the National Society of Black Engineers, his designation as a four-year Letterman for Savannah State Men’s Track and Field and his recognition from the Federal Highway Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation as a Dwight D. Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship recipient.

Eager to launch his career in engineering, he has served as Research Assistant with both the MAGEC-STEM Plus Summer Undergraduate Research Training Program and the Transportation Infrastructure and Geotechnics Education Research Group – the latter of which he wrote the final report for Sea Grant Georgia. He has also had the honor of presenting his research findings at the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. Davis is on track to graduate this summer with his Bachelor of Science in civil engineering technology.