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Rising Star Awards Past Recipients

Dara Naderi, PE
2018

Dara Naderi, PE has been an integral part of the Thornton Tomasetti (Weidlinger prior to the merger) team since joining the firm in 2009. Due to his tireless commitment and excitement for structural engineering, Dara has emerged as a role model for younger engineers at TT. Prior to joining Thornton Tomassetti (TT) Dara received his Bachelor (2007) and Master’s (2009) degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Virginia Tech. Dara has broad experience in both new construction and renovation projects. Some of his most notable projects include: The US Embassies in New Delhi, India, London, England and Mexico City, Mexico, the renovation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s headquarters in Washington DC and Navy Federal Credit Union’s headquarters in Pensacola, Florida. In addition to his project work, Dara has been involved in several TT initiatives including the Communities of Practice initiative. Two years ago, TT started Communities of Practice (CoP) to help improve knowledge sharing throughout the company. Dara started the Flat Slab Design CoP with two goals in mind: streamline Flat-Slab design and analysis across the firm and establish TT as an expert in the field. After the first year, the Flat-Slab CoP generated more activity than any of the other 15 CoPs, with 17 active members from 11 offices. Dara’s efforts were recognized in TT’s annual report, and the Flat Slab CoP is now seen as a central technical resource. Dara’s success in leading the Flat Slab CoP has grown to his involvement in TT’s Global Standard Committee. Fostered by Dara’s enthusiasm and leadership, the Flat Slab CoP and TT’s Standards Committee are now working together to produce two companywide documents: Flat Slab Design Guidelines and a TT User’s Manual for SAFE. Dara is helping in leading the effort to draft these two documents, which will be an integral part of flat-slab design at TT in the future. Outside of the office, Dara has contributed immensely to the community by being involved in numerous professional organizations. As Chair of SEAMW-YMG from 2016 to 2017, Dara continued the momentum from previous years, as the group a grant from NCSEA and was named as a finalist for Young Member Group of the Year at the 2017 NCSEA Summit. In addition to working with the YMG, Dara has led numerous other initiatives for SEAMW such as organizing the SEAMW booth at last year’s Science Festival and co-chairing SEAMW’s Student Outreach Committee, which is responsible for organizing the annual The Next Step: A Forum for Future Structural Engineers seminar. Outside of SEAMW, Dara recently joined both the DC Construction Code Coordination Board’s (CCCB) Structural Technical Advisory Committee and the NCSEA Seismic Provisions Code Committee. Furthermore, Dara was also a Mentor with the ACE Mentor program at Bell Multicultural High School. The ACE mentor program helps inspire high school students to pursue careers in the construction industry, and demonstrates his interest in being an active member in his local community as well. Dara lives in Washington DC with his wife and dog. He enjoys reading, skiing and grilling in his spare time.

Rachel Tyler, PE
2017

Rachel Tyler, PE has been an integral part of Keast & Hood for nearly five years since relocating to Washington, DC in 2012. Due to her tireless commitment and focus, Rachel has quickly worked her way up from a staff engineer to a Project Manager to Associate. Throughout her tenure with Keast & Hood, Rachel has become exceptionally well-rounded, having completed some of the firm’s most complex historic preservation and new building projects. Rachel has proven to be exceptionally reliable, capable, and responsive to even the most demanding clients’ needs. Due to the high caliber of her design work and management, clients specifically request that Rachel be assigned to their projects. ​ Rachel received a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Gonzaga University in 2004 and became a registered professional engineer in 2010. Some of Rachel’s most notable projects include: The Field School Renovation and Addition; Loudoun County Riverside High School; Georgetown Former Jesuit Residence Renovation (Ryan and Mulledy Halls); Unification Church Emergency Stabilization; Catholic University Marist Hall Seismic Repairs; and The Maret School Renovation and Modernization. She effectively leads projects from design development through construction and is well-versed in field surveys, load analyses, development of schematic design, final detailing, and responding to RFIs and working collaboratively with construction phase teammates. She has a track record of successful collaboration with architects, builders, clients, and other engineers. ​ Outside the office, Rachel leads several of her firms’ pro-bono and non-profit support efforts. Rachel currently volunteers with the Architecture in the Schools (AIS) program through the Washington Architectural Foundation (WAF) teaching structural engineering to students throughout the District of Columbia. She has taken the lead on her firms’ commitment with Gingertown over the past four winters to help the organization raise funds which go toward multiple charitable causes. At Catholic University, Rachel serves as an adjunct faculty assistant in the Architecture Comprehensive Building Design Studio. As a member of the advisory boards for Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School, she creates mentoring opportunities for students. Additionally, she serves on the Gala Planning Committee for the Structural Engineer’s Association of Metropolitan Washington. Rachel lives in Silver Spring with her wife and two children. She enjoys gardening and reading in her spare time.

Brian Petruzzi, PE
2016

Brian Petruzzi came to Washington, D.C. in 2010 to begin a job with Weidlinger Associates, Inc. He then joined Thornton Tomasetti’s Weidlinger Protective Design practice in 2015 when the two firms merged and is now a project manager. ​ Brian specializes in analyzing and designing buildings to withstand blast loads. The Department of Defense, Veterans Administration, General Service Administration, Department of State, and Smithsonian Institute are among his clients. Brian has contributed to the design of over 30 blast-protected structures: military installments, government headquarters, laboratories, explosive test-ranges, and museums. ​ In addition to structural engineering analysis and design, Brian juggles project management, construction coordination, and mentoring. He co-led a project that overhauled WAI’s digital library to increase work efficiency. Brian assisted in the development of two technical presentations: “Anti-Ram Barrier Design” and “Designing for Accidental Blast and Fragmentation.” He also developed a presentation for the 2013 SEI Structures Congress, “A Case Study: Two-Way Reinforced Concrete Slabs Exposed to Close-in Blast Loads.” ​ Brian received a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech in 2008 and completed undergraduate research in the Myers-Lawson School of Construction. He attended the University of Texas (UT) to pursue his Master of Science degree in Structural Engineering and completed research under Dr. Todd Helwig, studying the stability of curved, steel I-girder bridges. He helped develop UT Bridge, a user-friendly, three-dimensional finite element program. ​ Outside the office, Brian enjoys volunteering with the Architecture, Construction, and Engineering Mentor Program. Brian is also very active in the SEA-MW where he is a founding board member of the Young Members Group (YMG) and was elected as the second Chairperson of the organization. While under Brian’s leadership, the YMG was recognized as Young Member Group of the Year by the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations (NCSEA). Brian is also an active member of SEAMW’s Excellence in Structural Engineering Awards Gala Committee and a member of NCSEA’s Young Member Group Support Committee. ​ Brian currently resides with his wife Stephanie in DC’s Adams Morgan neighborhood. In his free time, Brian enjoys playing volleyball, riding his bike through the city, cooking with his wife, attempting to be a photographer, and traveling the world.

Kellie Farster, PE, LEED AP, CDT
2015

Since joining SK&A Structural Engineers, PLLC in 2011, Kellie Farster has proven to be a dedicated asset to the firm. As a project manager, Kellie juggles multiple responsibilities from structural engineering analysis and design to project management, construction coordination and contract administration for a variety of projects, including new structures and renovations as well as the expansion of existing structures. Her project portfolio includes building types ranging from office, residential, mixed-use/retail, academic, recreation and healthcare. These include a variety of structural systems such as pre-stressed concrete, mild reinforced concrete, and steel structures. ​ Kellie has applied innovative and efficient designs to many projects, including Ballou Senior High School, the largest new high school facility in DC to date. For this complex and challenging project, she played a pivotal role assisting with the successful administration of structural services. Other recent projects that she has worked on include the Barry Farms Recreational Center, Army Navy Country Club, 77 H St NW, 1200 North Irving St, Northgate at Falls Church, Union Place, Skyland Town Center, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Parklawn Office Building. ​ In addition to her primary role as a project manager with SK&A Structural Engineers, PLLC, Kellie has been heavily involved in several activities which contribute to the improvement of the firm. She has served as a member of the firm’s Building Information Modeling (BIM) committee, assisting with the development of Revit standards and helping to launch “Rockin’ the Revit” seminars, a series of in-house chats that encourage BIM users to share tips and tricks with other colleagues. She has represented the firm on teams for various charitable causes including the JDRF Real Estate Games and CANstruction. Additionally, she has volunteered her expertise and time to organizations such as Rebuilding Together, Habitat for Humanity, and Group Workcamps; a non-profit that organizes week-long trips for youth to repair homes for people in need. Prior to joining SK&A Structural Engineers, PLLC, Kellie worked for Cannon Design in Buffalo, NY from 2006 to 2011 where she worked on projects throughout the East Coast, including the design of healthcare facilities, K-12 schools, and university projects. Notable award-winning projects include the Oratory at Ave Maria University in Naples, FL; the John F. Jaeger Center for Athletics, Recreation & Fitness at Gettysburg College; and the Gates Vascular Institute (GVI) and University of Buffalo (UB) Clinical Translational Research Center (CTRC) in Buffalo, NY. Kellie received a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering from Hope College in 2002 and subsequently volunteered in India for eight months with Engineering Ministries International (EMI), a non-profit that primarily designs schools, orphanages, and medical clinics in developing countries. After returning to the U.S., she completed a Master of Engineering degree in Architectural Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University in December 2005. In January 2006, she returned to volunteer work with EMI for an additional six-month stint in Uganda, West Africa. Outside of the office, Kellie has continued her volunteer work by taking part in various youth programs such as the Architecture, Construction, and Engineering (ACE) Mentor Program and Buffalo-Area Engineering Awareness for Minorities (BEAM), where she has strived to inspire high school students to pursue careers in engineering. Influenced by her artistic parents, Kellie also teaches art classes at the Anacostia Gracious Arts Program (AGAP), a weekly after-school arts organization in southeast DC. For SEA-MW, she has served as a board member for the Young Member Group (YMG) since its inception and currently serves as the group’s Record Keeper. She has also traveled multiple times to Sierra Leone, West Africa, with “Let them LOL”, a Buffalo based non-profit that strives to provide clean drinking water in remote villages through the inspiration of laughter and hope. A Michigan-native, Kellie resides in DC’s Dupont Circle neighborhood and enjoys hiking, camping, backpacking, kayaking, skiing, sailing and traveling with her husband, Brad.

Christopher Crilly, PE
2014

Chris Crilly has nine years of experience designing structures for a wide variety of building types, including healthcare, office buildings, educational facilities, hospitality and residential buildings. Projects have included new structures and renovations to existing buildings. As a senior project engineer, he is responsible for overall project management, structural analysis, and design, oversight of engineering and BIM staff efforts, coordination with architects and design team members, production of structural drawings and construction administration. ​ After earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Architectural Engineering from Pennsylvania State University, Chris moved to the Washington, D.C. area, where he spent two years at Haynes Whaley Associates before joining Thornton Tomasetti in 2007. For the past seven years, he has worked as a design engineer and project manager. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in Virginia, a LEED Accredited Professional in Building Design and Construction, and a Registered California Emergency Management Agency Safety Assessment Program Evaluator. Chris also co-authored “Going Deep,” an article on top-down construction at the Washington Marriot Marquis, in the July 2013 edition of Modern Steel Construction. Recent work includes the 67-story, 276-meter (905-foot) Torre Koi in Monterrey, Mexico, set to become Mexico’s tallest building upon completion, and the soon-to-be-completed Marriott Marquis hotel in Washington, D.C. Chris was also the engineer and project manager for a portion of the recently completed CityCenter DC development; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ MH-47 Aviation Maintenance Hangar at Fort Campbell, Ky.; and the new Norfolk, Va. Consolidated Courts project. Notable past projects include the investigation of a collapsed parking structure in Miami, Fla.; site construction observation for the CityCenter Las Vegas project; the renovation of 901 E Street for Pew Charitable Trusts; an addition to the gymnasium at Gonzaga College High School, and the Johns Hopkins Hospital Bloomberg Children’s Center and Sheikh Zayed Tower in Baltimore, Md. ​ Outside of the office, Chris has been involved in Rebuilding Together and CANstruction. In early 2013, he was instrumental in launching the SEA-MW Young Members Group. Chris has stepped forward in a leadership role and is continuing to organize and establish the group. The YMG is holding events to get other members involved and meeting a need in our community. Chris is a rising star because he saw a need in the SEA-MW community and he got involved and is making things happen. He is leading by example. He is also a member of AISC and DCBIA Leaders in Development (DLD). ​ Chris would like to thank the SEA-MW, mentors Wayne Stocks, Mark Tamaro, and Zach Kates, parents Richard and Beverly Spochart and Barry and Linda Crilly, wife Jessica, and son Jackson.

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