Blog
   December 8, 2014

We are pleased to welcome three new hires working out of our office in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates!

Rawa Fawaz, PQP, has joined Otak as an Engineer/Project Coordinator. She brings nine years of experience as a Civil Engineer specializing in sustainability, quantity surveying, and specification writing. She has provided technical services on a wide variety of projects such as villas, industrial factories, towers, and communities. Rawa earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Water Resource/Civil Engineering from the University of Baghdad.

Alex Gandy has joined Otak as an Urban Planner. He brings a strong academic background with practical experience in key planning disciplines, as well as enthusiasm and passion for urban planning. He is conversant with the use of relevant planning tools and innovative approaches to complex issues. Alex earned his Master’s degree in Spatial Planning from Bartlett School of Planning, University College in London, United Kingdom, and his Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography from University of Durham, United Kingdom.

Aaron Schemeck has joined Otak as a Landscape Architect. He is an experienced landscape architect capable of supervising challenging projects in urban design, planning, and transportation enhancement projects. He is also well-versed in traditional landscape architectural design and planning on a wide range of resort, commercial, retail, residential and leisure, entertainment, and hospitality projects. Aaron earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Landscape Architecture from West Virginia University.

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   November 26, 2014

Otak is pleased to welcome ten new hires!

Portland

Chris Staggs, AIA, LEED AP, NCARB, has joined Otak as Director of Architecture. He brings 20 years of project and leadership experience, managing teams and collaborating with clients from the business development phase through construction on significant and complex international projects. He has worked on a wide variety of projects, including healthcare, sports and culture, high and early education, commercial office and high rise, transportation design, housing, hotel and hospitality, and religious facilities. Chris earned his Bachelor of Architecture degree from California State Polytechnic, Pomona, with a specialization in Environmental Design.

Shawn Goodpaster has joined Otak as Senior Contracts Manager.  He brings an extensive background in labor and employment consultation, contract negotiation, and human resources matters in courts and before administrative agencies. Shawn earned his JD from Emory University School of Law, his MBA from the University of Louisville College of Business & Public Administration, and his Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Political Science from the University of Louisville College of Arts and Sciences.

Jamie Fleek has joined Otak as a Senior Marketing Coordinator.  He brings 11 years of experience supporting the A/E industry as a marketing coordinator and has led several proposal efforts from pre-positioning to proposal delivery. He has also supported technical staff with graphics and general marketing needs.

Michael Rafferty, PE, LEED AP, has joined Otak as a Senior Water Resources Engineer/Project Manager. He brings more than 12 years of experience integrating stream restoration, geomorphology, water resources, and civil site development. He has served in project management and engineering roles on a wide variety of project types from conceptual design through construction. Michael earned his Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering - Stream Restoration, Hydraulics, and River Mechanics from Colorado State University, and his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Bucknell University.

Redmond

Cristina Haworth has joined Otak as a Planner/GIS Technician. She brings experience with complex integrated planning and zoning initiatives at both city and neighborhood scales and has familiarity with land use and development law. Cristina earned her Master of City Planning and certificate in GIS and Spatial Analysis from the University of Pennsylvania and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Community, Environment, and Planning from the University of Washington.

Seungjin Baek, PhD, PE, has joined Otak as a Senior Project Engineer. He brings over seven years of research and consulting experience with emphasis on hydrodynamic, sediment transport, and water quality modeling projects with 2D and 3D modeling. Seungjin earned his PhD and Master of Science degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley, and his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea.

Shelby Petro has joined Otak as a Wetlands Scientist. She brings seven years of experience in science and environmental consulting. Shelby earned her Master’s of Environmental Science and Management degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Indiana Wesleyan University.

Jesse Reynolds has joined Otak as a Geospatial Planner. Jesse brings eight years of GIS/GPS experience in public and private sectors, as well as a diverse background in field work including resource grade Trimble GPS, site remediation studies, conservation biology studies in remote and mountainous areas, river resource surveys, and explosives handling via avalanche control work. Jesse earned his Master’s of Urban Planning degree from the University of Washington and his Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography/Geographic Information Systems from Western Washington University.

Tempe

Chad Hayashi has joined Otak as a Landscape Design Professional. Prior to joining Otak, he worked as a draftsman/CAD manager at a private architecture firm where he managed CAD file preparation, drawing review, and delivery to clients. He also developed a strong set of skills by reviewing and recognizing code compliance. Chad earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Landscape Architecture from Arizona State University.

Joan Hartl has joined Otak as a Project Assistant/Receptionist. Joan has worked in the A/E industry for over six years where she has served in various roles, including administration, project coordination, and marketing.

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   November 26, 2014

Otak’s Portland office celebrated Thanksgiving this afternoon with an office potluck. Otakians brought in a variety of holiday dishes, and Otak provided turkey, ham, a salad, and beverages. It was a nice way to spend time together before the long weekend.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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   November 24, 2014

Three of Otak’s Water and Natural Resources staff are teaching in Portland State University’s River Restoration Professional Certificate Program. There are five core courses in the River Restoration Professional Certificate Program, and the courses that Liz Gilliam, Kevin Timmins, and Gary Wolff are teaching include:

• EPP 221 - Introduction to River Restoration, Part I: Physical Processes
• EPP 223 - Site Evaluation and Assessment
• EPP 225 - Restoration Project Management

Liz just wrapped up her fifth year of teaching with the program, and in addition to the courses mentioned above, Kevin will be a guest speaker in the Project Management course in December, and Gary will teach Hydraulic Modeling next spring. We are proud to play a significant role in this nationally recognized program!

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   November 24, 2014

Otak's office in Kirkland, Washington, has recently relocated to Redmond! After purging, packing, and moving, we are all settled in at our new address, which is:

11241 Willows Road NE
Suite 200
Redmond, WA 98052

Our phone and fax numbers have not changed.

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   November 5, 2014

Otakians in our Portland office celebrated Halloween last Friday with a pizza party! There were several impressive costumes, including a sumo wrestler, Spider-Man, a bloody nurse, and Gene Simmons from KISS, and a few people brought candy and Halloween-themed cookies.

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   November 5, 2014

Otak participated in this year’s EcoChallenge from October 15 to 29. Organized by the Northwest Earth Institute, the EcoChallenge is an annual event that asks participants to change one habit that benefits both you and the environment for two weeks. It is a fun and convenient way to stop and consider your impact on the environment and to think of creative ways to lessen your footprint. The EcoChallenge website provides many helpful tips, and participants join teams for added motivation and encouragement.

Otak has organized an EcoChallenge team for several years, and this year was one of our strongest showings. Twenty-four participants joined our team, and their challenges ranged from selecting sustainable food options to energy efficiency to trash reduction. Participants earn points through checking in on the EcoChallenge website, posting blogs about their progress, and clicking “Challenge Met.” At the end of the challenge, we gave out prizes to our highest point-earners. This year’s winners included:

Emily Leete, who had organic foods in 20 meals, 20 meatless meals, and 30 meals with 0 waste. She won a piece of sustainable art designed by Rachel Laura.

Kelly Youngberg, who chose alternative transportation as her challenge and saved 34.46 lbs. of CO2. She won an Otak bamboo storage stick.

Theo Malone, who chose water conservation as his challenge and saved 400 gallons of water. He won a bamboo Otak thumb drive.

We're looking forward to participating in next year’s EcoChallenge!

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   October 10, 2014

Last weekend, a group of volunteers transformed four blocks of Third Avenue in Portland’s Old Town/Chinatown district into a “pop-up plaza” by reclaiming 1,000 linear feet of roadway as pedestrian space and a protected bike lane. The project was the latest, and largest, project undertaken by Better Block PDX, a group that aims to “create inviting and interactive places that challenge the notion that streets are only for cars.”

For three days, space normally reserved for parking and driving was filled with pedestrians, attracted by ping pong tables, outdoor seating, vendors, musicians, and space for painting and art. Local community associations and businesses initiated the project, and restaurants and cafes moved seating into the expanded pedestrian space. Although the project was temporary, supporters see it as a first step towards a permanent solution for a safer and more appealing Old/Town Chinatown.

The pop-up plaza took place a few blocks north of Otak’s corporate office, and we were proud to sponsor the demonstration project. In addition to financial support, Otak’s Ron Dean, Ben Bortolazzo, Nick Tahran, and Martin Glastra van Loon (and his son, Max), helped with setup and take down responsibilities. Otak believes in creating unique and engaging people places as catalysts for urban revitalization, and this project successfully demonstrated the effectiveness of “place-making”.
 
We look forward to our future involvement in transforming Old Town/Chinatown, as well as future participation in Better Block PDX events!

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   October 9, 2014

Otak's Tammi Connolly joined about 120 volunteers last weekend to help plant over 5,000 trees in Oregon's Washington County. Although it was a tiring three hours of crawling around and tearing up root balls, it was gratifying to see all the newly planted trees! The weekend before, Tammi and Otakian Kelly Youngberg participated in a SOLVE Beach Cleanup on the Oregon Coast.

SOLVE is a state-wide non-profit organization that organizes over 1,000 cleanup and restoration projects throughout Oregon.

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   October 8, 2014

Otak’s Portland office participated in the Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s Bike Commute Challenge again this year! Here are a few numbers from our team:

226.5 total trips
2.338 total miles ridden
2,291 pounds of CO2 saved
114,562 calories burned (That's over 148 basic Chipotle chicken burritos or 734 12-oz cans of PBR!)
432 - most miles logged by a single person (Ron Dean)
100% - highest commute rate (completed by Megan Karner, Ron Dean, and Tim Ervin)
63 - most miles Ridden on a Single-Speed Bike = Jason Lien with 63 miles

Participants were entered into a raffle for a wide variety of coveted prizes, including bike spoke reflectors, temporary tattoos, a Metal Earth 3D Laser-Cut Praying Mantis Model (assembly required), and a bicycle-themed mug.

Congratulations, team, and we look forward to participating again next year!

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