2017 CEEAA Alumni Award winners
The Civil and Environmental Engineering Alumni Association is pleased to announce the 2017 recipients of its Distinguished Alumnus Award and Young Alumnus Achievement Award. The Distinguished Alumnus Award recognizes professional accomplishments or unique contributions to society by alumni of the department. The Young Alumnus Achievement Award recognizes a recent graduate who has achieved distinction in his or her field and reached a level of accomplishment significantly greater than that of other recent graduates. The honorees will be recognized at the CEE at Illinois Alumni Dinner in Chicago on March 8.
The Civil and Environmental Engineering Alumni Association annually presents awards to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of CEE alumni. Nominations are accepted throughout the year. To nominate, please fill out and submit the appropriate form on the CEEAA Awards page.
2017 Distinguished Alumnus Award winners:
GERALD R. OLSON
Retired Founder, President and CEO
For an outstanding career providing technical expertise and practical leadership in the field of geotechnical engineering; for steadfast guidance and vision in establishing Terracon as one of the foremost engineering firms in the country with more than 3,500 employees in 130 offices serving all 50 states; and for support for future generations of engineers in their higher education pursuits.
Gerald R. Olson earned his B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1956. After graduation, Olson worked for Chicago Bridge and Iron Company as a structural engineer before enrolling at Iowa State University to earn his M.S. in Civil Engineering. It was during this time that he switched fields from Structural Engineering to Soil Engineering.
After earning his master’s, Olson went to work for the Corps of Engineers in Chicago. He soon moved to Soil Testing Services, where he spent the next six years as a project manager, leading field inspections on deep foundation construction.
In early 1965, Olson joined with Soil Testing Services and one other firm to start a new company called Soil Testing Services of Iowa. Olson soon bought out the other firms and changed the company name to Terracon. Terracon, now entirely employee owned, continued to grow and had approximately 37 offices and over 1,000 employees when Olson retired in late 1998.
In response to the increasing difficulty for geotechnical firms to obtain professional liability insurance in the 1970s, Terracon and a group of similar firms started Terra Insurance Co. Olson became a Director in the late 1980’s and Chairman in 1993. He remained chairman until 1998.
ALAN R. POEPPEL
Senior Principal/Senior Vice President
Langan Engineering Environmental, Surveying and Landscape Architecture D.P.C.
For worldwide leadership in geotechnical engineering with a focus on design of high- and ultra-high-rise buildings and many notable projects throughout the world, while establishing a new standard in high-rise design practice; for a demonstrated high degree of competence, leadership and entrepreneurship in geotechnical and structural engineering practice; and for commitment to technical excellence and betterment of civil engineering.
Alan Poeppel is a native of Illinois, growing up in the Chicago suburb of Glen Ellyn. He earned his B.S. in Civil Engineering in 1991 and M.S. in Geotechnical Engineering in 1993. Poeppel’s advisor was Professor Timothy Stark and was Stark’s first Master’s student at Illinois. Poeppel then joined Langan directly from Illinois in January, 1993.
Today, Poeppel is a member of Langan’s Executive Committee and a Managing Principal in the New York City office. Poeppel has 24 years of geotechnical engineering experience in the U.S. and Middle East focusing on deep foundation design for super-tall buildings. In 2016 he was honored by the editors of Engineering News Record (ENR) magazine as one of the year’s “Top 25 Newsmakers” for his work on the 1000+ meter tall Jeddah Tower. Poeppel brings his thoughtful manner and total commitment to each project, large or small, and this has garnered him the respect of many of the country’s top design professionals.
As an adjunct professor at Columbia University, Poeppel teaches a graduate course focused on deep foundations for SuperTall buildings. As a member of ASCE’s NYC Met Section, he continues to mentor young engineers as they develop in their careers. Additionally, he is an active member of his New Jersey community and enjoys sailing in his free time.
Senior Project Engineer
Applied Research Associates Inc.
For an impeccable career marked with the highest integrity, dedicated service to the civil engineering profession and the drive to advance the art and science of pavement engineering; for research and practical work in precast pavements, particularly for repair and rehabilitation programs; and for developing, improving and implementing best practices for the design, construction, performance, repair and rehabilitation of rigid concrete pavements.
Dr. Shiraz Tayabji serves as a Senior Principal Engineer at Applied Research Associates, Inc. and as President of Advanced Concrete Pavement Consultancy LLC, based in Columbia, Maryland. Tayabji is a nationally and internationally recognized expert on concrete pavement technology and has been actively involved in developing, improving, and implementing technologies for highway and airfield concrete pavements for over 35 years. He has been invited to conduct workshops and/or be a keynote speaker in many countries and has served as a Short-Term Technical Consultant to the World Bank, reviewing concrete pavement design and construction practices at several projects in India funded by the World. His current activities include improvements to precast concrete pavement technology for rapid rehabilitation of pavements.
Tayabji obtained his B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Nairobi, and M.S. and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is a registered Professional Engineer in several U.S. States. He is an Emeritus Member of the Transportation Research Board, Founding Member, Past President and Honorary Member of the International Society for Concrete Pavements, Fellow of the American Concrete Institute (ACI) and a Past Chair of ACI 325 – Concrete Pavements, Fellow and Life Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and a Member of American Society for Testing and Materials.
2017 Young Alumni Award winners:
Product Manager and Vice President for Customer Support
For significant accomplishments in academia and industry by improving the understanding of the hydrologic and hydraulic behavior of storm flows entering large tunnel systems; for demonstrated leadership in the civil engineering profession worldwide; and for developing innovative tools and solutions to optimize water resources distribution collection and conveyance systems.
Dr. Joshua Cantone is Vice President of Customer Support and Product Manager at Optimatics. Optimatics is the world-leading provider of infrastructure planning software that enables water and wastewater utilities around the globe to avoid billions of dollars in costs while ensuring optimal performance.
Cantone received his undergraduate degree at the University of Adelaide, studying Civil Engineering and Law. In 2005, Cantone was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship that facilitated his journey to Urbana-Champaign. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Civil Engineering at the University of Illinois specializing in Environmental Hydrology and Hydraulics. Cantone’s Ph.D. research focused on the development and application of the Illinois Urban Hydrologic Model, which was developed for use by the MWRDGC as part of the modeling suite developed for the TARP System.
Cantone worked in the consulting engineering industry for ten years prior to joining Optimatics at a variety of consultancies in the U.S. and Australia. He is also an Adjunct Faculty Member at the University of Adelaide.
MATTHEW A. JOHNSON
Fehr Graham Engineering and Environmental
For outstanding technical capabilities and strong leadership benefiting the civil engineering profession, employers, project owners and society; for successful examples of cost-effective advanced wastewater treatment facilities in small communities; and for ongoing efforts to help prepare students for success in the workplace.
Matt Johnson, Branch Manager with Fehr Graham, a regional engineering and environmental firm operating in Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin has developed a solid civil and structural engineering background over the last 15 years with a combination of practical, field, design and project management experience. He currently leads a multi-discipline 25-person team in the Champaign, Illinois office of Fehr Graham and focuses much of his time in the planning, development, design and construction of Water and Waste Water projects throughout the firm.
Johnson is licensed as a Structural Engineer in Illinois, and Professional Engineer in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri. He was born and raised in the City of Champaign, and is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with both a B.S. and M.S. in Civil Engineering. He resides in Champaign with his wife Abby and their five children.
Johnson is active in the Champaign West Rotary, Illinois/National Society of Professional Engineers, American Water Works Association, Illinois Water Environment Association, Water Environment Federation, Illinois Association of Wastewater Agencies, the University of Illinois Alumni Association, and can be seen tailgating at the Illini football games most Saturdays in the fall.