Rob’s a Top 20 Industry Professional!

When Rob and I got married, he was in school to become a structural engineer. One night, just a couple months later, he told me he didn’t want to be a structural engineer. He decided he wanted to be a geotechnical engineer instead. I actually thought he was joking and basically said, “A what? Haha. Is that a real thing?” When I realized he was serious about changing his career path I got a little annoyed and concerned. I had just married a future REAL engineer…not an engineer of dirt, dang it! Would he even ever get a real job in this strange field of study? Finally he convinced me that, yes, it’s a real thing and yes, he’d be entering a growing industry with a lot of future opportunities.

Fast forward 13 years and Rob was just nominated by his company to be considered among the Engineering News-Record’s “Best of the Best” Top 20 Under 40 in the region! Basically, he’s a Top Gun.

To give his Top Gun-ish status a little perspective, here is a little more info:

  • Engineering News-Record is a worldwide magazine which provides news, features on projects, products, and people in construction, architecture, and engineering.
  • This “Best of the Best” Top 20 Under 40 takes into account not only geotechnical engineers (’cause that’s about 20 total ever…) but all professionals in construction and design careers affiliated with Engineering News-Record.
  • The Gulf/Southwest region includes Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Alabama.
  • Out of 2600 AECOM (Rob’s company) employees in the region of which probably half are under 40 years old, there were just 3 people nominated. ROB WAS ONE OF THEM!
I could stop here but why should I when I can continue to gush on my top young industry professional?
After he was submitted for nomination, ENR got a writeup on his professional background. I’ve included it here because I’m a beaming, proud wife right now. As interesting a read this is, feel free to scroll allll the way down to my closing paragraph.

Robert earned his BS and MS Degrees from the University of Utah. His thesis topic was related to advanced methods of site-response analysis. He graduated Cum Laude and as a member of the Honor Society, Chi Epsilon.

While in school, Robert worked for PSI where he set up a field laboratory and performed a suite of advanced geotechnical soil tests including direct shear and tri-axial shear.

After graduating, Robert joined URS in Salt Lake City were he worked on many projects including back-calculation of liquefaction-induced deformation of a quay, hazus modeling of seismic losses, settlement and lateral spreading of embankments and bridge foundations, and tailings embankment design and engineering.


Robert is a Certified Professional Engineer and has Project Manager status over his team at AECOM (formerly URS). Robert has lead multiple engineering teams to complete technical projects including CCR landfill expansion and post-earthquake analysis of a high-hazard dam on liquefiable foundations. He has led his team in preparing a multimillion-dollar proposal and has provided project management to multiple concurrent projects including CSIR inspection and analysis of hydro-electric facilities, remediation design of CCR ponds in a high seismic zone, and expansion design of a CCR landfill.

Robert is a founding member of the Utah Chapter of the EERI. He has held the position of Director and serves on multiple committees.

Robert is a Professional Engineer and leads a geotechnical team of eight engineers at AECOM. He spends considerable time mentoring junior engineers and fostering a strong team environment where individuals have the opportunity to gain experience while participating in unique projects.

Robert holds weekly meetings where the AECOM/URS safety and quality programs are discussed in detail. As a team, they focus on delivering quality work and maintaining individual safety while managing the hazards associated with geotechnical consulting.

Robert previously served on the URS Quality Committee where he performed project audits to ensure compliance their quality program. He also served on the Training Committee where he organized training opportunities for employees on a variety of software packages and engineering topics. Currently, Robert serves on AECOM’s Green Team to promote environmentally friendly and sustainable practices in the Salt Lake City AECOM office. All these activities were undertaken to contribute to industry/company processes and to improve the perception of the engineering industry. 

Robert completed the URS Project Manager Certification program which consists of approximately 40 hours of online and webinar training followed by a certification board interview.

Robert was involved in the following landmark projects during his career: 

Mountain View Corridor, Salt Lake County, Utah. A planned freeway in western Salt Lake County serving 13 municipalities. Provided mechanistic-empirical pavement design under a CM/GC contract serving 13 municipalities in western Salt Lake County.

Liquefaction and Stability Evaluation of an undisclosed dam in Utah. Performed subsurface field investigation, liquefaction analysis, post-earthquake and numerical stability analyses to demonstrate acceptable factors of safety and deformations.

TARC TO 24, Building Code Adoption Tracking Losses Avoided Studies. Developed, implemented, evaluated, and refined a first generation methodology to quantify the losses avoided at the community level due to the adoption and enforcement of disaster resistance building codes for seismic, flood, and hurricane hazards.

CCR Landfill Design for undisclosed client in Utah. Project management and design of challenging CCR landfill design.

CCR inventory of existing impoundments and landfills for two undisclosed energy generators in the United States. Included evaluation of existing facilities and preparation of closure and remedial designs to meet the requirements of EPA CCR rules.

Kennecott Tailings Expansion Project and North Impoundment Completion Project and related projects. Challenging design of embankments and improvements to tailings facility constructed in a high seismic area.

He has been involved in the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute for 8 years after participating in the Poster Session of the Annual Meeting 2007.

Robert is a founding member of the Utah Chapter of EERI and has promoted many initiatives to improve the industry including an annual short course addressing subjects such as liquefaction and seismic hazard analysis.

Robert feels it is very important to raise awareness of important issues such as potential local and national hazards, emergency response, and the need to provide training to local professionals.

During his time serving on the Board of Directors at the Utah Chapter of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute from 2012-2014, Robert increased collaboration between engineers, earth scientists, seismologists, planners, government officials, and emergency responders. The goal was to reduce public exposure to geologic hazards, increase public awareness, influence public policy decisions, and improve community resilience.

Robert is a member of the Emergency Response Task Force which was trained and organized by ASCE’s Committee on Critical Infrastructure. He participated in the first call-to-action in 2012 responding to a wildfire in a wooded residential area south of Salt Lake City. He was part of a multidisciplinary task force working in conjunction with local government organizations.

Robert is a member of the Community Emergency Response Team in Salt Lake City and organizes and provides training on the Community Emergency Response Plan that he is developing.

Robert is a licensed Amateur Radio operator (ham) so he can assist as a community emergency responder. Additionally, Robert is a California Emergency Management volunteer so he can assist in regional emergency recovery.

Finally, Robert wants to increase student interest in choosing civil engineering as a career so he gives engineering and physics presentations to his local elementary school and junior college.

Robert should be considered a top young industry professional due to his efforts on behalf of AECOM, which have been exceptional and well deserving of this recognition. His commitment to client service and project delivery excellence is a large part of our success for our clients and AECOM!

So, without further ado, I give my sincere congratulations to my dear Maverick who had the guts-of-steel required to become a dirt nerd. If it weren’t for him, dams would fail, roads would buckle, and pretty much the entire world’s infrastructure would crumble. Okay, maybe I’m being a tad dramatic here. But he works hard, is smart as all get out, and continuously strives to balance all of this crazy work stuff with his family life. Truthfully, without him, MY entire world would crumble. And I’m not just being dramatic. 

PS…Not that it’s my place to steal the spotlight right now…but shouldn’t there be a Top 20 Under 40 Young Professional’s Spouse award??? Just sayin’…

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