January Spotlight - University of Portland Student Chapter


The ASCE student chapter at the University of Portland underwent a change of leadership from the 2016-2017 school year. Last year’s officers graduated in May 2017 and club leadership was turned over to the next class of seniors. The chapter’s faculty advisor, Dr. Mojtaba Takallou is on sabbatical during the University’s Fall 2017 semester. Dr. Mark Kennedy has substituted as advisor for the time being.

On September 11th, the student chapter held its first general meeting on the University of Portland campus. The event attracted 50 individuals mostly consisting of civil engineering majors with a few mechanical and electrical engineers. Club officers began the meeting by giving an introductory slide show describing their plans for the club during the semester. Afterwards, the club members divided themselves into small groups and assembled into corners of the room. Each corner of the lecture hall had a large piece of paper, a specific field of civil engineering (geotechnical, hydraulic, transportation, etc.) and discussion questions specific for that subdiscipline. This activity engaged the students to discuss what civil engineering entails and how it is crucial to a functioning and safe society. Senior engineering students had the chance to share their knowledge with the younger classes, and the younger students got an early exposure to the many opportunities they will face in the future. Their ideas were written on the paper and later shared with the other attendees in the room.

The beginning weeks of the Fall Semester consisted of the meeting afore mentioned and design/construction of the student chapter’s Concrete Canoe. The Canoe will be acknowledged during the ASCE Regional Conference in April at the Oregon Institute of Technology.

Along with the Canoe project, the student chapter is pursuing a service project located at Columbia Springs in Vancouver, WA. The location is widely popular for its fish hatchery and walking trails, and welcomes an impressive estimation of 100,000 people a year. Trail quality is a growing issue for the location and volunteers are needed to help build solutions. The officers made a site visit on October 9th and met with the Columbia Springs volunteer coordinator to discuss opportunities. Multiple trail maintenance projects were presented to the officers, and the good news is that every project would require a team of engineers to analyze, plan, and build a solution to the problem. The officers saw this as a good opportunity for member involvement as well as club involvement in the community.

Student chapter officers Terrington Smith and Brian Tsujii (President and Vice President, respectively) made an appearance at the ASCE Oregon Section Board Meeting on October 17th at Kell’s Irish Pub in downtown Portland. They made important connections with the Oregon Section leadership including its President, ex-President, and Treasurer. The hospitality of the host and the welcoming attitude of the other attendees gave Terrington and Brian a pleasurable experience.

Six days later, the student chapter officers held their second meeting of the semester. The Columbia Springs service project was presented along with updates on Canoe construction and on-campus opportunities to earn money for the club. The highlight of the meeting was the presentation from Ryan Williams. The students and officers welcomed both Mr. Williams and Jerald Ramsden of WSP, and highly enjoyed the stories and career advice shared by Mr. Williams.

Recent student chapter involvement in the engineering community included attending Meet a Civil Engineer Day at Oregon State University where the student chapter Secretary and Canoe Lead, Jennifer Fandel, received the Byron Jones Scholarship. Lastly, a few student chapter members attended and competed in the ITE Traffic Bowl where the University of Portland took the third place prize.

Ideas for future activities and involvement for the student chapter are conceptualized every day, and the officers look forward to leading the club through a successful Spring Semester.

December Spotlight - SW Washington Branch

The Southwest Washington Branch of the ASCE was formed in 1992 by a group of consulting engineers who wanted to be able to gather locally in Clark County to socialize and discuss engineering topics specifically related to southwest Washington. The geographic range of the Branch includes Clark, Cowlitz, Skamania, and Wahkiakum Counties. The Branch is administratively attached to the Oregon Section of the ASCE, as many members work on both sides of the River.

Bonneville Dam 1.JPG

Our Branch tries to serve the local engineering community with technical training opportunities, monthly meetings, field trips, or other activities. Branch members also serve on quasi-governmental boards, such as committees to update local design standards and the Development Advisory Board. Over the past couple of years we’ve:

  • Organized field trips to Bonneville Dam, the West Vancouver Freight Access Project at the Port of Vancouver, the Vancouver Waterfront Development Project, and the Vancouver Wastewater Treatment Plant,
  • Provided training on technical writing, using social media for marketing, streamlined curb ramp replacements, building concrete intersections, and AutoCAD Civil3D 2018,
  • Provided several presentations on seismic risk in the Northwest and Resiliency, including improving the resiliency of the BPA Grid,
  • Shared case histories on several large local infrastructure projects,
  • Learned about how LIDAR can help us better understand the geology of the Columbia River Gorge,
  • Sponsored a debate between candidates for Mayor of Vancouver,
  • Organized informal gatherings at local brewpubs for members to network with other local engineers.

Follow our website or sign up for our weekly newsletter (by sending a letter to our mailbox, below) to find out what activities are happening in the next few months. Send your idea for a meeting topic or volunteer for a presentation by contacting us at: asce.sw.wa.email@gmail.com

UNPREPARED Seismic Awareness in Columbia County, Oregon

ASCE Oregon/SW Washington held another successful UNPREPARED seismic awareness event in Columbia County, Oregon last night. We had over 160 people come to hear local engineers and emergency managers talk about the state of our infrastructure and what the public can do to support infrastructure improvements and a prepared culture.  St. Helens and Columbia County are small areas so this was a great turnout. We were honored that Bob Lamoureux and Larry Magura, our Region 8 governors were in attendance.

Meet A Civil Engineer Day 2017

Thank you all for attending this year's Meet a Civil Engineer Day! The event was a great success, and I think every student in attendance received a great amount of benefit as a result. While gaining professional insight and knowledge about the field of Civil Engineering, students were also able to take time to introduce themselves to professionals in attendance, meet other students from other schools, have a myriad of food, and participate in dodgeball! Congratulations to all of the ASCE Scholarship Recipients as well. 

I hope as professionals you all gained something valuable as well, and I want to thank you again for volunteering and making this event so valuable and worthwhile. 

To Tom Baughman and Allison Pyrch - Your presentation on the Portland Zoo Elephant Enclosure project was definitely one worth sharing and one that entailed so many different aspects of Civil Engineering. For students to hear of something so encouraging yet challenging that they may face in their future careers is truly inspiring! Your hard work and commitment to giving back to students are truly appreciated. 

I would like to give special thanks to Tom Miller, the ASCE Faculty Advisor for Oregon State, for his help throughout the planning process, and to Nick Hossley, ASCE President at Oregon State, for always excelling at what he does for ASCE and for Oregon State. 

If you have any comments or suggestions for future years events, please contact Tom Miller (Thomas.Miller@oregonstate.edu) or Drew Rommel (rommeld@oregonstate.edu), we would love to hear from you. 

Thank you all, and we hope to see you there next time!

Drew Rommel,  OSU ASCE Student Chapter Professional Development Chair

Annual Gala Celebrates ASCE's Past and Future

About 50 ASCE Oregon members and their guests participated in a very special event aboard the Crystal Dolphin.  The Annual Gala celebrates the success of the Oregon Section and recognizes the contributions of our members.  The Engineer of the Year awards were given out.  This year's Engineer of the Year is Larry Magura.  Government Engineer of the Year is Tova Peltz and Young Engineer of the Year is Nick Hatch.  We were honored to have ASCE President-Elect Kristina Swallow join us on this special occasion.  Ms. Swallow inducted the new officers.  Brand new to the board this year is Jerald Ramsden as Treasurer and Courtney Davis as Oregon Section President-Elect.  Members and guests enjoyed a nice dinner in the private setting aboard the boat.  David Sowers of WSDOT provided a special presentation on the high profile and impressive Alaskan Way Viaduct project.  Adding to this was the unique ambiance as the boat plied the Willamette River on a perfect September evening and such great company of fellow ASCE devotees accompanied by their significant others.

2017 ASCE Oregon Government Engineer of the Year is Tova Peltz

Tova Peltz, PE, GE, CEG is the Geo-Environmental Unit Manager in the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Region 1. Tova works at the interface of engineering, environmental resource management, project delivery, and transportation infrastructure maintenance. Tova holds a Masters in Geotechnical Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley and a Bachelors in Earth Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and is a registered Professional Engineer (P.E.), Geotechnical Engineer (G.E.) and Certified Engineering Geologist (C.E.G.) in Oregon. 


Tova started her career in geotechnical engineering consulting in 1999 at GRI. She joined ODOT in 2007 as a geotechnical engineer, stepped into a construction management position in 2012 and moved into her current position in 2016.  At ODOT, Tova’s team is comprised of hydraulic engineers, geotechnical engineers, geologists, biologists, environmental project managers, a wetland scientist, a landscape architect, and a historian. This multidisciplinary team does project design for ODOT’s capital projects, provides technical support to construction and supports maintenance of existing highway infrastructure. Currently her team is working in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area with ODOT Maintenance and the US Forest Service to assess forest fire damage and mitigate rockfall and slope failures triggered by the Eagle Creek Fire. This team also recently completed the design and permitting for the I-205 Regional Water Quality Treatment Facility which will provide stormwater treatment for ODOT and City stormwater collected within the I-205 system north of SE Powell to the Columbia Slough. This team is taking a lead role in establishing ODOT’s approach to watershed based stormwater management and treatment. Tova is passionate about working at ODOT, and is particularly enthusiastic about the team of people she works with in Region 1 and the wide variety of work she does – from traditional project delivery to statewide strategy for stormwater treatment to professional mentoring to emergency response and planning.


Tova is an advocate for engineers and scientists engaging in local STEM education and has been on the leadership team for the Annual Engineers Week High School Program since 2006. She also helped develop the BEC’s Stem Connect Program and continues to lead Region 1’s STEM Connect participation. Tova is an ASCE Oregon Section Past-President and former Program Chair, Oregon YMF Past President, and Oregon ASCE Geotech Group Past President. Tova is also a former member of both ASCE’s Council on Disaster Risk Management (CDRM) and the Geo-Institute Legislative Sub-Committee.

Tova was awarded Oregon Government Engineer of the Year at the 2017 Annual ASCE Oregon Section Gala on September 28th 2017.  Congratulations Tova and a big thanks for all you do from all of us at ASCE Oregon Section!

2017 ASCE Oregon Young Engineer of the Year is Nick Hatch

Nick Hatch, PE, is a project engineer with GRI and has 7 years of geotechnical engineering experience.  He is a registered professional engineer in Oregon with a BS in civil engineering and M.Eng in geotechnical engineering from University of Idaho.  Nick has been a member of the ASCE Oregon Section since 2012, and had the honor or serving as President of the Younger Members Forum (YMF) of the Oregon Section from 2015 to 2016.  In 2016, he started hosting the Straw Bridge Competition at Oregon Engineers Week for ASCE and helped the Oregon Section update their website.  In his spare time, Nick enjoys camping, hiking, golfing, weekend getaways, attending sporting events and concerts, and spending time with his family and friends. 

Nick was awarded Oregon Young Engineer of the Year at the 2017 Annual ASCE Oregon Section Gala on September 28th 2017.  Congratulations Nick and a big thanks for all you do from all of us at ASCE Oregon Section!

2017 ASCE Oregon Engineer of the Year is Larry Magura

Lawrence M. (Larry) Magura, P.E., F. ASCE, D.WRE has been an active member of ASCE and the Oregon section since he moved to Oregon from his native California in 1978.    He served in all of the Oregon Section leadership chairs, culminating in serving as Section President in 1992.  He graduated from UC Davis with a BS degree in Renewable Natural Resources, and then continued his studies at UC Berkeley, where he received MS degrees in Civil Engineering and Watershed Management.  He is a registered professional engineer in Oregon, Washington, and California.

He started his professional career working for FEMA in San Francisco on the National Flood Insurance Program, and the Corps of Engineers in Portland, where he served as Chief of the Emergency Management Branch in the Portland District for 7 years during the Corps response to the Mt St Helens disaster.  When the disaster was declared over in 1987, he entered the private sector and worked for a succession of consulting engineering firms, culminating in a 14½ stint with the Lake Oswego office of Black & Veatch, where he served as the firm’s Principal Water Resources engineer, working on a number of large and small water resources projects up and down the west coast.

When Larry retired from Black & Veatch three years ago, he wasn’t ready to completely hang up his engineering career, so he formed Lawrence M. Magura, P.E., LLC, so he could continue to work part time for some of his favorite old clients. He also decided to reactive his involvement with ASCE.  He initially served for two years as Treasurer/Historian for ASCE Region 8, and last year was elected by his peers to a 3-year term as a Region 8 Governor.  He also served as Chair of the Local Planning Subcommittee for the 2016 ASCE National Convention in Portland, and he also chairs the EWRI History & Heritage Committee, and is the long-time secretary for the EWRI Urban Drainage Standards Committee.  He was recently appointed to a seat on the Society’s History & Heritage Committee, and last month, he was elevated by the Society to the grade of Fellow.

Larry was awarded Oregon Engineer of the Year at the 2017 Annual ASCE Oregon Section Gala on September 28th 2017.  Congratulations Larry and a big thanks for all you do from all of us at ASCE Oregon Section.

ASCE Oregon Hosts "Unprepared" education event in Astoria

The Oregon Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) hosted another community awareness event to highlight seismic risks and vulnerabilities, this time in the coastal community of Astoria, Oregon. Allison Pyrch, President Elect, Mark Libby, Past President, and Jerry Ramsden, Program Chair, were joined by a panel of local engineers and emergency managers for Q&A after a showing of the Oregon Public Broadcasting and Oregon Field Guide documentary UNPREPARED.  Fort George Brewery donated the space and equipment to show the documentary.  ASCE Oregon would like to thank the guest panel including Jeff Harrington, Astoria City Engineer; Michael Summers, Clatsop County Public Works Director; Tiffany Brown, Clatsop County Emergency Manager; Cindy Moore, Engineer with City of Astoria; Bill Marczewski, Consultant Engineer and Pat Corcoran, OSU, Hazards Outreach.

ACEC/ASCE Oregon Legislative Preview Dinner

On December 7, 2016, 50-60 professionals turned out at Henry’s on 12th to hear the latest on the legislative efforts for transportation funding from Marshal Coba, ACEC lobbyist, Representative John Lively (D, Springfield), and Senator Brian Boquist (R, Dallas). There is ample interest in doing something significant, the debate seems to be over how significant and how to pay for it. With the failure of Measure 97 and a state budget crisis, there will be other competing revenue measures coming out. Senator Boquist indicated they will be reaching out to the various groups and entities that are active in supporting, and in opposing, transportation measures to see how willing they are to support or oppose.

ACEC’s Legislative Committee, and membership, is very engaged this year and will be launching an opinion poll effort soon. They will be organizing a Day at the Capitol event in March.