Blog
   September 10, 2014

Otak is pleased to welcome 12 new hires!

Oregon/Southwest Washington

Melissa Toman has joined Otak as a job captain working out of our office in Portland, Oregon. She brings four years of experience in the design industry, and prior to joining Otak she served as the lead production member at a private architecture firm. Her responsibilities included producing design development drawings, 3D models and construction documents, and communicating with clients and consultants. Melissa earned her Bachelor of Architecture from Woodbury University in San Diego, California.

Jeremy Tamargo has joined Otak as a water resources engineering designer working out of our office in Portland, Oregon. He brings extensive experience collecting urban stormwater field samples, laboratory work, producing written reports, and generating computer models. He earned his Master of Science in Environmental Engineering and his certificate of advanced study in sustainable enterprise from Syracuse University and his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Notre Dame.

Ben Bross has joined Otak as a project engineer working out of our office in Vancouver, Washington. He brings over 15 years of experience in civil engineering, and he spent the past 10 years working for the Washington Department of Transportation as a civil engineer and construction inspector. His responsibilities included designing transportation and infrastructure; preparing contract plans, specifications, and estimates; and coordinating multidisciplinary design groups, as well as coordination with stakeholders. Ben earned his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Washington State University.

Aaron Richard has joined Otak as a recruiter/HR generalist working out of our corporate office in Portland, Oregon. He has been working in the human resources field for the past 14 years.

Srivarshini Balaji has joined Otak as an on-call architectural designer working out of our office in Portland, Oregon. She has served as an architectural designer and intern in India, working on a wide range of projects including housing, health care, institutional, industrial, commercial, and prefabrication. She evolved concepts, worked on schematic design, design development, and construction document deliverables. Srivarshini earned her Master of Architecture from the University of Oregon, and her Bachelor of Architecture from Manipal University in India.
Tempe

Jeffrey Sherman has joined Otak as a landscape architect working out of our office in Tempe, Arizona. He brings experience in urban design, land planning, open space planning, transportation, transit, and multidisciplinary projects. Prior to joining Otak, Jeffrey owned and operated an award-winning urban design and landscape architecture firm while simultaneously owning, operating, and managing a major manufacturer of urban street and transit furniture. He earned his Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from the University of Arizona, and he studied architecture at the University of La Salle in Mexico City.

Richard Johnson has joined Otak as a project architect working out of our office in Tempe, Arizona. He brings 27 years of project experience working on the planning and design of new and re-use projects for public, commercial, educational, and healthcare clients. His experience includes working directly with clients, contractors, and design teams throughout all phases of project development. Richard earned his Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Arizona, and he is a registered architect in Arizona, Nevada, and California.

Skyler Flood has joined Otak as a landscape design professional working out of our office in Tempe, Arizona. He is well-versed in research, drafting plans, and both hand-rendering and 3D modeling programs. Skyler recently earned his Bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture from Arizona State University, and he is active in the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Geoff Brady has returned to Otak as a landscape design professional working out of our office in Tempe, Arizona. Geoff brings extensive experience in landscape design and GIS analysis. His specialties include desert-adapted and arid planting design, urban planning and design, and modeling. He has worked on a variety of projects, including master-planned communities, private residences, commercial complexes, streetscapes, and parks and community areas. Geoff earned his Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture from Arizona State University.

Puget Sound

Marina Howard has joined Otak as a civil engineering designer working out of our office in Kirkland, Washington. She has served as an engineering intern at Clackamas County, as well as private engineering firms. Marina earned her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Santa Clara University, and she is a LEED Green Associate.

Abu Dhabi

Mohamed Sali Jaleelulla has joined Otak as a material inspector working out of our office in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. He brings 30 years of experience working as a materials inspector in the United Arab Emirates, and he has worked on a wide range of road, bridge, and civil engineering projects. Mohamed earned his degree in civil engineering from the Board of Technical Education in Kerala, India.

Ali Mohamed Ahmed Ali has joined Otak as an electromechanical inspector working out of our office in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. He brings 20 years of experience in electrical engineering and 11 years of experience working in the United Arab Emirates. Ali earned his Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from Menofia University in Egypt.

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   August 29, 2014

Yesterday, the City of Mesa, Arizona, revealed design concepts for the Mesa City Center Design Competition. Otak is one of three design teams selected to submit a 15% concept design for a signature plaza in Mesa's city center.

 Otak’s team re-imagined the project site as the heart of a bustling, revitalized downtown, filled with people. The design features a Living Room Plaza surrounded and enlivened by eight acres of mixed-use development that will serve as a catalyst for downtown revitalization. These development opportunities, which can include housing, retail, office, and possibly a hotel, will attract people to downtown Mesa, not just during special events, but every day. Next, the City of Mesa will select one of the three concept designs to guide the future of downtown.

To learn more about Otak’s vision for a revitalized Mesa city center, watch the video below:

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   August 27, 2014

Otakians Tammi Connolly, Liz Gilliam, Matt Klym, Hannah Marre, Melanie McCandless, and Gary Wolff participated in the 8th Annual Johnson Creek Clean-Up on August 23 in Portland, Oregon. They were part of a 140-person effort to remove trash from the lower six miles of the creek (starting at the Willamette River and going up past I-205). Over 37 tons of trash have been removed over the course of the eight Johnson Creek Clean-Ups, averaging 4.5 tons per year. Volunteers work in teams led by captains familiar with the reach of the creek and remove trash that poses a risk to wildlife and water quality.

After the morning clean-up volunteers returned to Mill Park for a BBQ and awards for the most interesting item found in the creek. Notable items this year included nearly 30 tires, one mattress, a model pirate ship, a packet of love letters, legacy media (a floppy disk and a VHS cassette), a bowling ball, an electronic dartboard, and wildlife including a Pacific lamprey and the carcass of a steelhead trout.

The clean-up is co-organized by the Johnson Creek Watershed Council, the Overland Park Coalition, and Green Lents and was supported by the City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services’ Community Watershed Stewardship Program (CWSP) grant. Melanie, Tammi, and Gary put in extra volunteer hours to contribute to the success of the clean-up. Melanie trained the team captains and coordinated the in-water work, Tammi wrote the successful CWSP grant application, and Gary served as event photographer.

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   August 21, 2014

Earlier this month, Greg Laird (Otak Principal and Water Resource Engineer) hosted the Kirkland, Washington, office picnic at his house and farm. The weather was beautiful, and Greg and his wife, Cathy, provided lots of fun for kids and adults of all ages. Events included horseback riding, a trampoline, badminton, horseshoes, ATV and golf carts, and feeding the horses, donkeys, and goats. Not only do the animals like carrots, but it turns out they love crunching on peppermint candies!

The various groups within Otak designed creative games such as walking through a lawn maze while blindfolded and directed by a team member, completing  three separate oversized jigsaw puzzles, and throwing objects into a wheelbarrow and then placing a team member in the wheelbarrow and rolling on uneven ground all while the participants’ ankles are tied together! Otakians also threw a water balloon...or 20.

Everyone enjoyed the delicious food and drinks! We thank Greg and Cathy for the fun-filled day!

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   August 20, 2014

Otak’s Portland staff divided into nine teams to create a putt-putt golf course at our office last Friday! Utilizing space, supplies, and design skills, each team created a par-three to par-five hole, with obstacles and challenges including ramps, water features, bubble wrap, and a photo of a dreamy Patrick Swayze. Otakians hit the links during the lunch hour and competed for personal pride, as well as gift certificates. Troy Kent received a Chipotle gift certificate for Best Score, Mandy Flett received a Subway gift certificate for Worst Score, and Megan Karner received a Starbucks gift certificate for getting a Hole-in-One. Everyone celebrated in the end by meeting in the Bistro area to celebrate August birthdays and eating birthday cake. It was a fun event organized by Otak’s Fun Committee!

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   August 20, 2014

Several Otakians from our Vancouver, Washington, and Portland, Oregon, offices participated in the sixth annual Kickball Without Borders kickball tournament fundraiser on August 9 in Portland. Each year several engineering and architecture firms organize teams for the competition, and all proceeds go towards supporting the Portland chapter of Engineers Without Borders and their humanitarian work in developing countries. This year, Otak’s team, Shark Otak, took first place and earned the coveted title Kickball Without Borders Champion! It was a fantastic fun-filled day in the sun, and we look forward to defending our title next year!

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   August 14, 2014

A group of Otakians took a field trip to active projects under construction in the North Bethany area of Washington County, Oregon, to see how their paper drawings and specifications translate to soil, concrete, and plant life. The project sites consisted of several housing development locations where Otak prepared the grading plans, street layout, stormwater design, and survey for construction, as well as a County public street. The engineers and project managers talked about their work, challenges, and lessons learned in an example of the multidisciplinary cooperation that Otak is known for.

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   August 5, 2014

Tim Kraft, Water Resource Project Manager and Principal at Otak, has recently earned his PE license in Colorado. Tim has been a licensed engineer for 15 years and is also registered in Oregon, Washington, and New Mexico. With this license, Tim offers our Colorado clients extensive experience in the fields of sanitary sewer and stormwater master planning, conveyance system sizing and design, floodplain studies, stream restoration projects, water quality modeling, and hydrologic and hydraulic modeling. Congratulations, Tim!

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   July 18, 2014

Otak’s Water Resources Engineer, Tammi Connolly, PE, ENV SP, has recently passed her Water Rights Examiner Exam! Certified Water Rights Examiners (CWREs) are knowledgeable of Oregon water laws and can prepare water right transfer and certification applications, take water usage measurements, and help prepare for the water needs of a growing population. Tammi is the first engineer at Otak to become a CWRE, and we are proud to offer this service to our clients. Congratulations, Tammi!

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   July 16, 2014

Last week several Otakians attended the groundbreaking for 15 West Apartments in Vancouver, Washington. The project is an 120-unit affordable housing building in downtown Vancouver, the first in Washington State by longtime Otak client Skip Grodahl of DBG Properties, LLC. Otak provided architecture, civil engineering, planning, financial advisory, and landscape architecture services for the project, which is scheduled for completion in June 2015. Vancouver Mayor, Tim Leavitt, officiated at the groundbreaking and was joined by Skip Grodahl, who presented Reach Community Development Corporation with a donation of $27,500 to support their activities in Clark County. Neighbors and members of the press and public also attended the event. Affordable housing is a crucial and often underserved element in creating healthy and diverse urban areas, and we are proud of our work on this important project. Congratulations to Skip Grodahl for his 29-year relationship with Otak and his first multifamily project in Washington!

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