Q&A with Nishkian Dean Project Engineer, Chad Norvell, Named a New Face of Civil EngineeringApr 05 2017 · 0 comments · COMPANY NEWS, NISHKIAN DEAN ·0
We were thrilled to hear the news: Chad Norvell, a project engineer at Nishkian Dean in Portland, was named one of ten New Faces of Civil Engineering Professionals in 2017 by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).
The nationwide recognition program promotes the bold and humanitarian future of civil engineering by highlighting the achievements of the next generation of C.E. leaders. Presented annually, the recipients are chosen based on their contributions to society and their dedication to improving the quality of life for all.
Norvell was officially recognized during ASCE’s annual Outstanding Projects and Leaders (OPAL) Gala on March 16, 2017, in Arlington, Virginia.
Photo 1: 2017 OPAL Awards for New Faces of Civil Engineering
At Nishkian Dean, Norvell specializes in the seismic retrofit of buildings—he has designed efficient seismic retrofits for more than a dozen schools in the greater Portland area, and he works closely with the state government to help school districts fund these projects. He also promotes the profession through his participation with Engineers Without Borders (EWB), and through his ongoing work with the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) to help with earthquake relief in Haiti and Nepal.
We took a moment to speak with Chad and to learn more about his dedication to serving the public good through his work. Read on for our Q&A:
Let’s start at the beginning—what inspired you to become an engineer?
I had a fascination with architecture since childhood, and originally studied it in college with the intention of becoming a practicing architect. After two years in architecture school, I realized that while there were some things I was good at, there were more things that I just wasn’t good at. I decided to leverage my strength in math and science and switch to structural engineering, which ended up being a perfect fit.
There are so many different specialties within our field. What prompted you to focus on seismic issues specifically?
As a structural engineer educated and practicing on the West Coast, some study and understanding of seismic phenomena and loads is unavoidable. I find seismic issues interesting for two reasons: for one, it’s just more challenging and requires another level of ingenuity and creative problem-solving beyond typical structural design.
Secondly, seismic issues can have a large impact on society beyond the engineering of structures. For example, the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP), the federal government program that funds seismic research, supports the study of social science issues related to earthquakes, in addition to the geologic sciences and structural engineering topics that we would expect. This kind of interdisciplinary field of study is interesting to me.
Could you tell us more about your work with Engineers Without Borders in Nicaragua? What types of projects are you working on with them?
In college, I spent four years as a member of our EWB chapter, serving as chapter president for two of those years. We worked primarily in a region on the West Coast of Nicaragua to provide engineering support for community problems that the government did not have resources to address. This was valuable for the local communities, and was a great learning experience for us as engineering students.
One of the two major projects we worked on was mitigating yearly flooding at an elementary school, and our second major project aimed to help a remote coastal community produce enough potable water to serve the communities’ needs.
I’ve also worked with several other EWB chapters to provide support for their projects. Most recently, I helped establish seismic criteria and perform structural analysis for a school in Ethiopia.
Could you tell us more about your relief work with Earthquake Engineering Research Institute?
After the earthquakes in Nepal and Haiti, I worked with teams in the US that were developing rebuilding guidelines for each country. We developed a guide to earthquake-safe construction for Haiti that was later translated to Haitian Creole, and for Nepal, we provided support for the revision of their building code.
You’re also participating in EERI’s first Learning from Earthquakes field study program—what does that entail?
After major earthquakes occur around the world, EERI and other organizations send reconnaissance teams to investigate building failures. This information is studied, and eventually leads to valuable technical information that advances our seismic design procedures. But this investigation only happens in the weeks immediately after an earthquake.
The idea behind “resilience reconnaissance” is to continue doing field investigation in earthquake-affected regions periodically for years after the event, tracking changes in various critical community services like housing, business, health care, and education. By doing this, we get an understanding of a community’s resilience to earthquakes, not just a building’s, which also serves as valuable information for communities in areas of seismic risk.
Photo 2: EERI Team in Chile 2017
Today, non-profit organization DiscoverE announced that Chad Norvell is one of the winners of the 2017 class of New Faces of Engineering honorees. The announcement coincides with the second annual Global Day of the Engineer, a worldwide day of celebration and volunteerism that shines a spotlight on the work done by engineers and inspires the next generation of engineering and technology professionals. DiscoverE’s New Faces of Engineering recognizes the work of up-and-coming engineering professionals, age 30 or younger, who are making their mark on their industry. These talented individuals are honored for having dedicated themselves to using their skills and education to help engender a better world. These young engineers serve as inspirations both for their colleagues and for the next generations coming up behind them. The highly-coveted award, started in 2003, is recognized nationally by their peers as a top honor for young engineers and continues to grow in prestige. In addition to recognizing young engineering professionals, DiscoverE also honors engineering students through its New Faces of Engineering College program. This year’s class includes young professionals innovating solutions throughout a cross-section of industries, including energy, food security, infrastructure, medicine, aerospace and the environment. Previous honorees have gone on to launch global businesses and NGOs.
All four Nishkian firms join together in congratulating Chad. To learn more about the 2017 New Faces of Engineering Honorees, please visit DiscoverE at http://www.discovere.org/our-programs/awards-and-recognition