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2014 Engineer's Week Banquet


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The 2014 Engineers’ Banquet was a rousing success. As always, the Sheraton Station Square provided a wonderful venue to hold the event. Several past Distinguished Service Award winners including Fred Graham, Reyman Branting, Donald Gennuso, and Tom Donatelli were among the large crowd on hand to hear the awards presentations. Not even the heavy train traffic experienced on this night could dampen the mood or drowned out the acceptance speeches.

Some engineers are doubly blessed!  Not only has Italo V. (Ody) Mackin, PE been blessed with 65 wonderful years of marriage to his lovely wife Fran, he has also owned and run Mackin Engineering Company for 50 years!  It was appropriate that Ody was honored with The Distinguished Service Award by the Chapter during the Engineers’ Week Banquet at the Station Square Sheraton because it is within view of the Smithfield Street Bridge. 

This Pittsburgh landmark is just one of the many bridges Ody has worked on in the area.  He and his staff  have performed engineering design and analysis of these bridges and highways for clients such as PennDOT (all eleven engineering districts), the Pennsylvania Turnpike, County of Allegheny and City of Pittsburgh.  Such longevity in both areas is quite an accomplishment for someone from Pesariis, Italy who has resided in Pennsylvania for all but 5 years of his life!

The Outstanding Engineering Achievement of the Year  is another project long time in the making.  The Michael L. Benedum Hall of Engineering was formally dedicated in 1971.  It is the home of the Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh which began a complete renovation of the entire building in 2006.  The completed Phase I included renovation of the auditorium and floors 1 through 5 along with the addition of an all-new mezzanine in the sub-basement level.  Phase II is currently in progress and includes renovation of floors 6 through 12.  Gerald D. Holder, Dean of the Swanson School of Engineering accepted the award on behalf of the University and then construction/project manager, Jeremy Fusaro, from PJ Dick along with the architect, Gary Carlough, from GBBN Architects, Inc./EDGE studio gave a power point presentation.  They explained how the library, labs, and office areas were modernized to encourage cross-sharing of ideas by bringing 

light and openness to the middle core.  Chapter members got a chuckle at seeing the transformation of the auditorium, which had been home to MATHCOUNTS competition, into individual classrooms as part of the Swanson School of Engineering Benedum Hall Renovations.

Nick Burdette, PE, accepted the Young Engineer of the Year award as he talked about his youth living in Philadelphia.  Now everyone knows that a purple van  led him down the path to an engineering career as he became fascinated with the Ben Franklin suspension bridge during a family vacation. Later, as a graduate student at the University of Illinois, Nick joined an ASCE field mission to Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina to study the performance of transportation systems and disaster resilience.  After 3 years abroad and 26 countries visited, Nick returned to Pittsburgh in 2009 when he re-joined HDR Engineering.  Locally, he has worked on the North Shore Connector and Liberty Bridge Preservation projects while working on national bridges such as the New Tappan Zee Bridge in New York and the Milton-Madison truss replacement between Kentucky and Indiana.

The Silvio Lorenzi President’s Gold Star Award was presented to Kirk Thompson, PE for his continued involvement with the Chapter’s FE/PE Review Courses.  He continues to attend Board Meetings as the Past President and his valued contributions to the Chapter meetings and activities earned this honor from the current Chapter President.

Dave Briskey, PE was recognized as the Chapter’s Nominee for State Engineer of the Year.  Dave’s continued involvement with MATHCOUNTS and the Apprenticeship Program  along with his position as a State Director demonstrated his PSPE dedication.  Dave will find out if his 30 years of design and construction management experience on numerous Pittsburgh bridges, roads and facilities is enough to earn the title at the State Conference in Allentown on September 18 & 19, 2014.

Unfortunately, the Awards Committee did not find a suitable candidate to receive the Lawrence W. Hornfeck Award this year.  So all Chapter members are urged to get involved and make exceptional contributions to the Chapter so they can be the winner in 2015!

It’s never too early to plan ahead. Please save the date, February 28, 2015 at the same location, Sheraton Station Square, for next year’s Pittsburgh Chapter PSPE Engineers Week Awards banquet.