Discover Engineering Week 2019 has arrived! This week is dedicated to educating, understanding and sparking interest for engineering and technology careers. Throughout this week we are asking our Engineers questions about their careers, responsibilities at the Thrasher Group, and advice for aspiring engineers. Make sure you are checking back each day to see employee and project highlights!

2/23/19

Rebekah Cline, PE – Project Engineer

Rebekah Cline is a Transportation Project Engineer from our Charleston, WV office. Rebekah is a West Virginia native, growing up in Gilbert, WV and graduating from West Virginia University with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. She began her career in Roadway Engineering, but quickly realized her calling was bridge design. She took a leap to make a career change and she’s been designed bridges ever since. She has been a part of the industry for more than 13 years, spending the last decade working on bridge structures throughout West Virginia, Ohio and South Carolina. Currently, Rebekah spends her days checking that all design elements are presented in construction plans for the contractor and reviewing stream analysis and reports. Rebekah’s passion for bridge design has allowed her to work closely with clients and her team on some pretty cool projects!

What do you like most about the work you do?

“I honestly love what I do. Technically speaking, I love laying out bridge geometry. I love seeing a project grow and finish. Making the client happy is also very important to me. I enjoy working within a team environment as well. Drawing from others can give you a new perspective and help in personal growth.”

Why did you choose to pursue a career in engineering?

“I have always had a love for structures. As a child I enjoyed building things with popsicle sticks. I’m intrigued by putting “small pieces” together to make one useful product. Throughout school I loved math and science. My parents and teachers in high school help guide me toward the engineering field.”

What do you like to do in your free time?

“I have a three-year-old son. He keeps me on my toes right now! My extra time is full of Thomas and Friends, monster trucks and Paw Patrol 😊”

What would be your advice to aspiring engineers?

“Find and do what you love. Life is too short to be miserable at work! The engineering field is so broad. Explore all the possibilities within your first year of college and then decide what suits you best.”

2/22/19

Project Highlight – Greater Harrison County Public Service District – Wastewater Treatment Plant Improvements

Thrasher recently completed a highly innovative sanitary sewer project for the Greater Harrison County PSD. This project included the installation of Bio-Dome units within the polishing pond of the existing PSD 0.6 MGD wastewater treatment plant. Thrasher worked with the PSD and Wastewater Compliance Systems, Inc. (WCS), who patented a product to be used in wastewater treatment plants, specifically lagoons, to improve the overall treatment process. This process is known as “Bio-Dome”.

The “Bio-Dome” treatment process consisted of units, or pods, which are placed on the bottom of a lagoon and completely submerged. The units use air that is pumped through them from the bottom to the top. The bio-media within the Bio-Domes is used to promote growth of biofilms, beneficial bacteria and to reduce ammonia-nitrogen, BOD, and TSS in the wastewater.
Among the many unique benefits to the Bio-Dome treatment process:

  • The units were able to be installed while the treatment plant was still in use
  • This solution offers low operation and maintenance costs
  • By utilizing the Bio-Dome technology, Thrasher was able to secure US EPA Green Infrastructure money to fund the project

The Bio-Dome idea came about when Greater Harrison County PSD approached Wastewater Compliance Systems, Inc (WCS) in a seminar about the potential of treating with Bio-Shells, in addition to a site visit with the Regional Supplier and a WCS representative. The PSD chose WCS’ Bio-Shells instead of other remediation options, including mechanical treatment systems. This is based upon its performance in nitrification, low capital and operating costs, and energy efficiency, and superior warranty provisions.

WCS provided 156 Bio-Shells that were installed in the final tertiary cells of the facility during November 2016. The Harrison County community minimized its capital investment costs by choosing Bio-Shells and continues to enjoy monthly operating savings due to lower maintenance costs and energy savings compared to alternative solutions. WCS offers protection to its customers by providing a product warranty that includes a performance guarantee.

“Our Bio-Shell project was a huge success due to the involvement of Thrasher. Thrasher brought our attention to the Bio-Dome technology and then facilitated meetings with the Manufacturer and Funding Agency to make sure our project was on track. The creative thinking of the Thrasher team allowed us to complete a project that meets our discharge limits consistently.” – Bill Hoover, General Manager – Greater Harrison PSD

2/21/19

Thomas Wirbicki, PE – Senior Project Manager

Thomas Wirbicki is a Senior Project Manager, specializing in Oil and Gas, from our Canonsburg, PA office. He originally planned to use his degree for Transportation, but instead has been involved in the oil and gas industry since graduating from Penn State in 2012. In only 6 years, Thomas has risen from a young staff engineer to a Senior Project Manager. He was able to advance quickly in his career because he took advantage of every opportunity that was presented to him. When he first graduated college, he struggled to find an engineering job, so for 6 months he painted houses and worked at a credit card call center. One morning a recruiter called about an open position and Thomas said yes before he even knew what the position was. It ended up being one of the best “yeses” of his life and got him involved in the oil and gas field.

What are your main responsibilities at #TeamThrasher?

“I split my time 50/50 in the office and out in the field. Currently, my job duties vary from day to day. Some of my main responsibilities right now are working with budgets, cost estimates, reviewing projects and plans, and mentoring junior staff members. Client management is a major part of my job and I work with them in and out of the office.”

What do you like most about the work you do?

“It’s not monotonous. I don’t like doing the same thing every day, and with this career I don’t have to. There is no strict ‘routine’. It’s pretty exciting to not know what the next day holds, everyday there is a new adventure.”

What do you like to do in your free time?

“I enjoy playing any type of sports I can. I picked up golfing for a way to network with clients but ended up playing a lot of it in my free time too! I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and her daughter.”

What would be your advice to aspiring engineers?

“You never know what life is going to hand you, so make the most of every opportunity that is presented to you because you never know what it could lead to. If you work hard, you can achieve any goal you set for yourself.”

2/20/19

#TransformationTuesday – White Oaks Business Park

Thrasher was retained for turnkey master planning, engineering and construction management services for the preeminent mixed use business park in North Central West Virginia. White Oaks is located along Interstate 79 in the rapidly developing Bridgeport area and was designed to focus on is providing hospitality, business, and visitors services to the adjacent major hospital complex and the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Biometrics Center.

As a first step, Thrasher worked with a partner firm in preparing a detailed market analysis to determine the most economically beneficial mix of land uses. This analysis produced a summary of recommended land use categories, estimates supportable square footage amounts, and projected market absorption rates. This information was used to develop several concept land use plans that explored different land use, transportation, and open space configurations. Additional market data was prepared leading to the selection of the preferred White Oaks Business Park Master Plan.

Thrasher provided all engineering, cost estimating, bidding services, construction management and materials testing services during the construction phase. The Thrasher team also developed the covenant and restriction guidelines for the development. The covenants and restrictions established site and building design specifications including materials, scale, massing and orientation.

A major development like this also required major utility work. Thrasher provided all public utilities for this project, including water, sewer, gas, and electric. It required a complicated design that could scale with the growth of the park while providing proper function to its first residents. Thrasher laid dual force mains and expandable pump stations for the sanitary sewer portion of the project. The team also built the water system, ensuring it was capable of fire protection. This system was built using US EDA grant funding, as well as matching TIF funds, which allowed the utility portion of the project to be constructed without any funding from the City of Bridgeport. This plan, and the work completed, has proven successful – no upgrades have been needed at the park thus far and services have been fully functional.

2/19/19

 Gordon Glass, PE – Senior Bridge Engineer

Gordon Glass is a Senior Bridge Engineer located in our Lexington, KY office. Gordon has accrued over 34 years of experience with specialization in Structural Engineering. Gordon was raised on a farm in rural Kentucky, which helped spark his interest in Civil Engineering. After he enrolled at the University of Kentucky, he was drawn to transportation and Structural Engineering. From 1984 to 1998, he worked for Structural Engineering firms in the building design industry. Since 1998, he has been doing primarily bridge design while growing in to project management, monitoring and business development. Gordon joined Team Thrasher in 2018 and has loved that “Thrasher encourages, even expects, contributing to the greater good of your coworkers, office and the company overall. In just two months I have had the opportunity to contribute to different levels and geographic.”

What are your main responsibilities at #TeamThrasher?

“Here in Thrasher’s relatively new Lexington, KY office, an average day so far consists of a wide spectrum. It involves mentoring younger staff, reviewing design work and reports, and local business development efforts. My main responsibilities are direction and review for deliverables on structures we have been assigned responsibilities for. This includes not only direction of what to do but explaining how and why.”

What is something interesting about you?

“About 8 years ago, I took up road cycling and mountain biking. I occasionally get to fish and deer hunt. And, at this stage of my life, I have three granddaughters to spoil. Fun fact, for several years, I participated in inspection of large river crossing bridges by climbing. Growing up on a farm gave me the ability to tackle that task without fear.”

What is your advice to aspiring engineers?

“Learn all you can in school. Don’t assume you won’t use something. Learn to listen, learn to speak, learn to write. Before you know it, your career will be as much about your people skills as your technical skills. Learn all you can from others. Us old folks know a thing or two. Even from those you don’t think have anything to contribute. You learn what not to do, and how not to be.”