March 3, 2015

Last month, Otak’s Joshua Owens visited the Colorado Avenue Dam Safe Passage project site in Bend, Oregon, to inspect construction. This project will provide a passage over the existing dam via three channels, one for habitat, one for whitewater recreation, and a “safe passage” option for recreation without rapids. Joshua, a water resources engineer, visited the site with Jason Carey, principal river engineer at River Restoration, the Colorado-based firm that designed the whitewater and habitat channels. In Stage 2 of the project, water is diverted into the future habitat channel while the safe passage and whitewater channels are being constructed. The whitewater channel, which is being built first, will have four drops, each designed to provide a unique wave experience for kayakers and paddle boarders. Pneumatic bladders installed on the drops will be able to shape and fine-tune the waves. During the visit, boulders were selected and placed for drops two and three in the whitewater channel to ensure that they are built as designed.

To learn more about this project and view a time-lapse video of construction, please click here.

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   March 3, 2015

Melanie McCandless, Engineering Intern from Otak’s Portland Water and Natural Resources group, was invited by Tom Szymoniak to speak at Portland State University. She shared her experiences in water resources engineering with 40 students in an Introduction to Civil and Environmental Engineering course. Melanie highlighted Otak’s interdisciplinary approach to water resource management, touching on examples of sustainable stormwater, flood mitigation, and habitat enhancement design. She emphasized the importance of organization and communication to succeed as a consultant, providing examples of reports and memoranda she has written during her three years at Otak. The students were engaged and asked great questions about the work environment, opportunities for additional training, and advice on which courses they should focus their studies. Frank Dick from the City of Vancouver also had the opportunity to share his perspective as the capital program manager for wastewater services.

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   February 23, 2015

Otak’s Theo Malone has recently been elected president of the Portland chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB). Theo is a Water Resources Engineering Designer in our Vancouver, Washington, office, and he has been volunteering with EWB since 2010. EWB-USA Portland Professionals has four international programs: a water and sanitation program in Ecuador, another water and sanitation program in Haiti, a solar program in Tanzania, and a new stormwater drainage program in Honduras. Theo is involved in the new Honduras project, which involves assessing a community’s need for river crossing to provide safe passage for foot traffic throughout the community. The chapter will travel on their first assessment trip in June. Congratulations, Theo!

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   February 12, 2015

Otak’s Rudayna Abdo and Aaron Schemeck recently spoke at the Abu Dhabi Future Landscape & Public Realm Conference at the Westin Abu Dhabi Hotel. Their presentation, titled Personalizing Our Public Spaces: How Everyone Can Benefit, offered an animated reflection upon how we use our public realm and what opportunities and responsibilities we bear in taking ownership of our open spaces.

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   February 11, 2015

Members of Otak’s Water & Natural Resources group recently attended the 14th Annual River Restoration Northwest Symposium at the Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, Washington. The symposium draws approximately 500 restoration practitioners, including engineers, biologists, planners, and regulatory staff, to exchange knowledge and techniques in restoration practice. Otak was a Gold Sponsor this year, and we displayed several of our natural systems projects at our booth. The Portland office was represented by Kevin Timmins, Liz Gilliam, Michael Rafferty, Melanie McCandless, and Gary Wolff. Seungjin Baek represented the Redmond office, and Luke Swan flew in from Colorado. Gary Wolff is an active RRNW Board member, and he coordinated the Monday short courses and the Friday field trip.

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   January 30, 2015

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   January 28, 2015

Otak recently won an ACEC Oregon Engineering Excellence Honor Award for the West Main Realignment project in Kelso, Washington! Awards were announced at the ACEC Engineering Excellence Awards Dinner last week at the Multnomah Athletic Club.

We are very proud of the West Main Realignment project, which realigned eight blocks of West Main Street through the business district of West Kelso to make a smooth connection and reduce congestion between SR 4 and the Allen Street Bridge. This project improved safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists, and stimulated community revitalization in the West Kelso area.

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   January 27, 2015

Last Friday night at their annual awards banquet, ACEC Washington presented Otak with an award!

 In the category of Social, Economic, and Sustainable Design Considerations, Otak was given a Silver Award for our Northeast Redevelopment Area (NERA) Regional Infiltration Facilities and Miller Creek Enhancements in Burien, Washington. This project is a great example of integrated design, involving our WNR, PAD, and TIS groups.

Otak and the City of Burien have created a unique stormwater management system for the City’s Northeast Redevelopment Area. This project will lead to a faster redevelopment of an area impacted by airport operations. The system utilizes low impact development techniques and several different types of stormwater management methods to replicate natural hydrologic processes that have been observed in the area. The project results in improved water quality and reduced stream erosion in Miller Creek and enhances wetlands in the area. Public open spaces and trails have been integrated into the stormwater facilities and airport safety needs have been accommodated in the design as well. The response from the public has been overwhelmingly positive.

“We’re now making lemonade out of lemons by creating a new, compatible land use that will be a wonderful thing into the future.”
- Kamuron Gurol, Burien City Manager

“The systems save money, they produce beautiful areas, and they clean our water. It’s a real win for everybody.”
- Mark Powell, Washington Environmental Council


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   January 8, 2015

Otak is proud to announce that Joe Primeau, Joshua Owens, and Nick Brown have recently passed their Civil Engineering exams and are professional engineers! Joshua has been working with Otak's water resources group since 2011, and both Joe and Nick have been at Otak since 2013. Joshua and Joe received their engineering licenses in Oregon, and Nick received his engineering license in California. Congratulations, Joshua, Nick, and Joe, on reaching this important career milestone!

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   January 7, 2015

Otak's Portland and Vancouver offices got into the season of giving, and friendly competition, to see which office could donate the most food. The Portland office filled three barrels of food for the Oregon Food Bank, and the Vancouver office donated over 400 pounds of food! The Portland office also had an internal competition with our different disciplines grouped into teams that tried to fill their assigned barrel. The winner of the internal competition was the water natural resources/finance team, with the transportation and infrastructure services/marketing team finishing in a close second. Although the competitions may have helped fill the barrels, the real motivation was helping those in need during the holidays.

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