Blog
   April 16, 2015

Otak's Ben Bortolazzo and Ron Dean will present a Pecha Kucha presentation on Otak's Southwest Corridor Connector project on Tuesday, April 21, at 6pm at AIA Portland on 403 NW 11th Ave. in Portland. The event is free and light refreshments will be provided. Come check it out!

For more information about AIA Portland, please click here.

 

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   April 1, 2015

The Oregon Chapter of APWA held their Spring Conference at the Valley River Inn in Eugene. Otak usually hosts a booth at each APWA conference where we display photos of our recent and local projects, but due to the increasing popularity of the conference and the smaller event space this year, the exhibit spaces were full by the time Otak signed up! In lieu of a booth, Otak joined two other firms that did not receive booths to host a pizza and game evening where attendees could team up and heckle each other over a fun game of miniature golf. Otak maintains involvement in APWA through conference attendance, as well as participation in subcommittees such as Sustainability, Water Resources, and the Young Professionals Network.

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   March 18, 2015

Eight Otakians joined over 400 other volunteers in the Johnson Creek Watershed Council’s 17th Annual Watershed-Wide Restoration Event. Volunteers worked at nine different sites throughout the watershed, planting nearly 7,000 native trees and shrubs, removing 33 cubic yards of invasive species, distributing nearly 15 cubic yards of mulch, and installing 1,000 feet of protective fencing. Tim Ervin, Ashley Cantlon, and Joe Primeau maintained plantings along the Springwater Corridor in the lower watershed; Melanie McCandless, Kevin Timmins, and Matt Klym helped install native plants and remove invasive species in the middle watershed just upstream of the Foster Floodplain Natural Area; Michael Rafferty installed native trees and shrubs near the confluence of Hogan Creek in the upper watershed; and Gary Wolff photographed volunteers at Tideman-Johnson Park in the lower watershed. Melanie McCandless has been volunteering with the Council since 2008 and has served on the Board of Directors since 2013.

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   March 17, 2015

Otak’s Liz Gilliam recently volunteered with the Nature Conservancy at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge! The volunteers worked to restore a parcel of land back to a native habitat by planting 250 black cottonwood, 275 Oregon ash, 550 red-osier dogwood, 200 Pacific ninebark, and 250 Cascara.

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   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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   March 2, 2015

Otak is pleased to welcome 14 new hires!

 Vancouver

Patrick O'Neill has joined Otak as a Bridge Engineer/Project Manager. He has worked on a wide range of projects, including long-span bridges, movable bridges, rail projects, and new and existing steel, concrete, and timber structures. His services on these projects have included design, load rating, inspection, analysis, and QA/QC. Patrick earned his Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Maryland and his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Michigan State University.

Bree Hines has joined Otak as a Project Assistant. She brings ten years of experience encompassing financial, administrative, and customer service roles, including two-and-a-half years in the A/E/C industry. Bree earned her Associate of Applied Science degree in Business from Portland Community College.

 

Tempe

 Laura Martin has joined Otak as a Landscape Design Professional. She brings over 15 years of experience and professional skills in all areas of landscape architecture from conceptual design and visioning through design development, construction documents, and field supervision. She has worked on various large, high-end resorts and hotels, as well as multifamily and institutional projects in the United States and Mexico. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture from Morelos State University in Mexico.

 

Redmond

 Brent Deets has joined Otak as a Bridge Engineer. Prior to joining Otak, he worked for five years as a Senior Structural Engineer at a private engineering firm where he specialized in bridge design. He earned his Master of Science and Bachelor of Science degrees in Civil (Structural) Engineering from the University of Southern California, and he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Richmond.

 Shannon Gray, LEED AP BD+C, has joined Otak as a water resources engineering designer. She brings over five years of experience in sustainability, water resources, and engineering, and she has worked on a variety of site development and street improvement projects. She possesses a strong background in roadway drainage, urban stormwater design, hydraulic analysis, and flood mitigation. Shannon earned her Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Colorado, and her Bachelor of Science in Sociology from College of Charleston.

 

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates


Bernie Viloria has rejoined Otak as a Highway Design Manager. He has over 24 years of experience in the field of engineering with an emphasis on highway design. He has extensive experience in the design of interchanges, roadways, internal roads, drainage, and street lighting. Bernie earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from St. Louis University, and he has been working in the United Arab Emirates for almost 20 years.

 

Portland


Glen Bolen, AICP, has joined Otak as a Senior Planner. He brings 20 years of planning experience in Oregon and nationally. He has a proven record of success on planning projects ranging from small area urban design plans to city comprehensive plans, as well as multi-jurisdictional regional programs. He specializes in land use, transportation planning, and urban development. Glen earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Oregon.

Brian Burby has joined Otak as Vice President/Business Development Director. He has led numerous sales efforts from strategic sales assignments to smaller “sustainer” projects. He also brings experience coaching and mentoring sales and business development staff on sales processes and tools. Brian earned his Master of Science degree in Environmental Biology from Ohio State University, and his Bachelor of Art degree in Zoology from Ohio Wesleyan University.

Amy DuBoff has joined Otak as a Senior Marketing Coordinator. She brings seven years of experience in proposal preparation and marketing coordination. At her previous firm, she wrote and edited proposal content, solicited and coordinated information from internal team members and consultants, and managed an opportunity database. Amy earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Portland State University.

 

Denver


Blair Vajda, PE, has joined Otak as a Senior Project Engineer/Project Manager. She brings nearly ten years of experience in water resource engineering with a special focus on restoring the natural function of stream ecosystems using an integrated approach of science and engineering. Blair earned her Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering - Hydraulics from Colorado State University, and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Biochemistry from Cornell University. She is currently the President of the Colorado Riparian Association.

Julie Ash, PE, has joined Otak as a Senior Project Engineer/Project Manager. Prior to joining Otak, she served as Engineering Group Director of a multidiscipline water and natural resources team that specialized in water resources, particularly river corridor restoration. Julie earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Michigan State University.

Rachel Williams has joined Otak as a Water Resources Engineering Designer. She brings experience supporting a multidiscipline team with a range of hydraulics, sediment transport, and design tasks. She has developed and updated 1D hydraulic models for existing design conditions on different streams, and she has assisted on designs for bank stabilization, habitat improvement, and flood mitigation. Rachel earned her Master of Science degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Colorado State University, and her Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Resources Engineering.

Luke Swan has joined Otak as a Senior Geomorphologist. He brings nine years of experience in flood and watershed planning, river restoration, geomorphic process modeling, hydrologic and hydraulic modeling, GIS, and remote sensing. Luke earned his Master of Science degree in Natural Resource Management from Central Washington University, and his Bachelor of Science degree in Geography from Ohio University.

Tracy Emmanuel has joined Otak as a Geomorphologist. She is experienced in geomorphic stream corridor assessments, sediment budgets, sediment transport and scour analyses, and large-scale stream inventories. She has worked on numerous multidisciplinary teams and is knowledgeable in one- and two-dimensional hydraulic modeling, channel and bank stabilization design, fish habitat design, and riparian revegetation.

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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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