Blog
   December 1, 2016

Congratulations to Josh Guerra, RA for earning his Construction Documents Technology certification from the Construction Specifications Institute. He took the exam on November 21 after taking a preparation course in the spring.

This certification cements his knowledge of project delivery best practices and provides the foundation for collaboration within construction and design teams. Josh put it best: "This CSI approach to project delivery allows all practitioners to understand the full life-cycle of a project, from project conception, through design, construction, and eventually facility management. It also emphasizes the collaborative nature of our business and the essential functions of Owners, A/E, Contractors, and Suppliers."

Josh also would like to emphasize that the Portland CSI offers scholarships to emerging professionals every year—he was one of the winners. You can learn more about it here.

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   November 30, 2016

Doug Beyerlein, Otak senior hydrologist, ran the Seattle Marathon on Sunday, November 27. This was his 11th Seattle Marathon and 114th marathon overall. Doug finished in a time of 3 hours, 43 minutes and placed 348th overall (1,498 finishers) while winning his age division.

Following the race Doug was in good spirits, but said that he was very tired.

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   November 22, 2016

Otakians celebrated Thanksgiving with a huge potluck in the Portland office today. Otak provided the ham and turkey, while others brought in stuffing, salads, deviled eggs, and more. The desserts were possibly the best part, and once the sugar wears off, don't be surprised if you hear people snoring.

Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the extended weekend!

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   November 2, 2016

Ecochallenge

Did you take the Ecochallenge? Dozens of Otak’s own took action in this two-week event focused on sustainability, community, and building healthy new habits. 

The good people over at Northwest Earth Institute developed the challenge to target nine different categories: food, community, water, transportation, health, waste, nature, energy, and simplicity. Last year they had 4,333 participants, so it’s great to see Otak join year after year, and we made a respectable impact in our own right.

Can you believe the Otak crew saved 4,871 gallons of water in just two weeks? We had 215 meatless meals, traveled 861 miles by bus (and were late for work maybe only once or twice), exercised for 2,035 minutes, and spent 2,790 minutes outdoors. 

The team captain Zaq provided the heirloom seeds that were given to the first and second place winners—Scott Sanders and Kelly Youngberg, respectively. Rachel Laura provided some really great artwork for a prize as well. 

If you want to learn more about the challenge, or if you want to better prepare yourself for next year visit the website here.

Budding Lyrics, Recycled art by Rachel Laura

(given as the prize to Amy Scheckla-Cox for most blog posts)

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   November 1, 2016

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   October 31, 2016

Otak’s Redmond Office shows some Halloween spirit with a lunchtime potluck. Planned by the Fun Committee, folks came to eat, drink, socialize, and show off their creative costumes.

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   October 28, 2016

Congratulations to Melanie Klym, PE, ENV SP, Otak Water Resources Engineer, for her 2016 Women of Vision award, which she received based on her commitment to the natural environment, water resources design work, and community involvement.

She has completed many stream and wetland projects that have won design awards, so it was no surprise to us that she would be selected for such a high honor. Recently, Melanie led a team of six Otak staff to relocate U.S. 20 from Pioneer Mountain to Eddyville. The project replaced a 10-mile segment of old U.S. 20 in Lincoln County with a 5.5-mile segment that will be straighter with wide shoulders and passing lanes.

Thanks for all your hard work, Melanie, and once again, congratulations.

Melanie with her Women of Vision award

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   October 20, 2016

Ashley Cantlon, PE, LEED AP BD+C, ENV SP, a Senior Water Resources Engineer in Otak’s Portland office, was awarded the Young Leader Award from the Oregon chapter of the American Public Works Association (APWA)!  An awards banquet was held on October 14 in Bend, Oregon.

This award recognizes and encourages young APWA members who have demonstrated an initial commitment to the profession and the Association, and show potential for future growth within the Association. The award promotes the concept that length of career does not necessarily indicate leadership abilities or potential for service. The Young Leader Award is sponsored by the Leadership and Management Committee.

Ashley was also a runner-up for the annual Gizmo Award. While not an achievement award in the traditional sense, the Gizmo (AKA Golden Knuckle) Award nonetheless is an important function of the chapter. First presented in 1987, the award has raised thousands of dollars for scholarships given by the chapter's Scholastic Foundation. Ashley narrowly lost out on the Gizmo award to Krey Younger.

Award nominations are submitted APWA peers. Here’s what the nominator had to say about Ashley and her great work:

“Ashley is a role model for young professionals at Otak and within the community through her design work at Otak, affiliation with APWA, and community outreach. Ashley has 12 years of experience as a water resources engineer. She is a Professional Engineer, a LEED Accredited Professional, and an Envision Sustainability Professional. Ashley has been an APWA member for five years; she is currently an APWA board director, previously chair of the Water Resources committee and the Young Professionals committee. She recognizes the importance of attracting new talent to the engineering field and through her connections with local academic institutions she regularly meets with students and academic groups. Each summer for the past 10 years, she has donated a week of her vacation time to serve as a counselor or administrator at the Satori Summer Camp for academically and intellectually talented middle school students. At Otak, she uses projects as teaching opportunities for younger staff by reviewing designs and reports with them. Ashley is also a member of Otak’s safety and CAD coordination committees. Ashley has prepared many sustainable stormwater designs for municipalities, and her project experience includes LID and “green street” approaches in urban environments. She is continually advancing her knowledge about LID techniques related to stormwater management, so that she can advise on a variety of projects.”

Congratulations to Ashley on winning this award! We are grateful to have her at Otak.

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   October 20, 2016

Great Oregon ShakeOut 2016

On October 20, Otak staff participated in Oregon’s annual statewide earthquake drill, the Great Oregon ShakeOut. This annual event brings awareness to earthquake preparedness and safety and is observed in cities all around the world.

Following the drill in the morning, the Otak Safety Committee led an open house discussion of how the company will respond in the event of an emergency. Based on the outcome of the discussion, Otak is gathering additional resources and refining communication plans so the company is better prepared for an emergency scenario. 

The Otak Safety Committee encourages everyone to gather their own emergency kit to keep at their desk. For ideas about what to include in your own kits, refer to the Red Cross guide here: http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/be-red-cross-ready/get-a-kit 

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   October 18, 2016

From September 28 through October 1st, Otak staff members attended the ASCE National Convention held in Portland, Oregon. 

Otak’s Doug Sarkkinen, PE, SE presented his team’s 2015 fast-track design and construction of the Dungeness River Railroad Trestle Replacement project. Designed and constructed in seven months, this project resulted in restoration of the Discovery Trail over the Dungeness River near Sequim, Washington.  Otak was hired in May 2015 and the bridge was re-opened December 2015.  Otak’s team generated 10 design options with the final selection proving to be salmon friendly to the river’s several anadromous fish runs and “river worthy” by virtue of foundations capable of withstanding deep scour forces and seasonal debris buildup.   

The trail and bridge over the Dungeness River is owned by the Jamestown S’Kallam Tribe.  A February 2015 flood damaged the adjoining railroad trestle and bridge and associated foundations.  Fast-track completion by Otak of this project restored use of the Discovery Trail to numerous hikers, bikers, pedestrians, and commuters who count on it as an important multi-modal transportation route.


ABOVE: Doug Sarkkinen, PE, SE, highlights Otak’s Dungeness River Railroad Trestle Replacement project at the ASCE 2016 National Convention

The event  was an excellent backdrop for connecting with partners and staying current with the latest advances in how to prepare our communities for the future. 

ABOVE: Jim Hamann, Otak President and CEO (left), and Brian Burby of Otak (right) meet with representatives from leading universities throughout the West. 

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