As ENR Southeast notes elsewhere in this first 2014 print edition, the four-state region's construction prospects appear to be picking up considerably. For instance, McGraw Hill Construction is forecasting that the Southeast's percentage increase in 2014 construction contracts will easily outpace the nation during the coming year, with a 22% overall gain expected. Though not yet reality, that potentially significant uptick should start to generate some upbeat vibes among Southeast builders.
Also bringing some much-needed optimism to the Southeast are the 20 individuals highlighted here, as part of ENR Southeast's fourth annual Top 20 Under 40 contest. While reflecting a diverse mix of industry experience and backgrounds, there's at least one unifying theme for this year's recipients: a dedication to making a difference.
Whether a researcher, residential architect, civil engineer, construction project manager or entrepreneur, it's clear that each individual has earned this special recognition through hard work and by making a positive impact on the construction industry.
As always, this year's recipients were chosen by an independent panel of judges, who reviewed more than 60 entries submitted to our online entry system. Based upon candidates' work experience, career and industry leadership achievements as well as their efforts to give back to their communities and industry peers, judges determined the 20 most deserving candidates. This year's judges included: Ken Cristol, president of Cristol Marketing Co., a construction marketing firm based in Longwood, Fla.; Janet Puglisi, with KHS&S Contractors, Tampa; and an honoree from a year ago, David Evans, a senior director with Starr Electric Co., Raleigh.
ENR Southeast invites readers to take a few minutes to check out the fine work that this year's Top 20 Under 40 recipients have done on behalf of the construction and engineering industry.
Researcher founded sustainable building lab at Georgia Tech
35, Assistant Professor, Chair and Director
Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta
Baabak Ashuri holds multiple graduate degrees in engineering and construction management. He is the founder and director of the Economics of the Sustainable Built Environment Lab at Georgia Tech and leads the school's master's degree program in integrated project delivery systems. Ashuri has developed and taught 21 undergraduate and graduate classes and has served as principal investigator on 20 external research grants.
His research explores the confluence of engineering, project delivery and management, infrastructure assets and project financing. He has worked as a certified instructor with groups such as the Design-Build Institute of America and the Georgia Dept. of Transportation to educate professional engineers, architects and project managers. Also, since 2010, Ashuri has hosted high school students and their teachers in his research lab at Georgia Tech for a four-week summer research boot camp.
Recognized as an expert on Atlanta transportation initiatives
38, Associate Vice President
AECOM Technology Corp., Atlanta
Claudia Bilotto has become a recognized expert in the Atlanta transportation community through her participation in high-profile projects such as the Northern Sub-Area Study and the Regional Transit Action Plan as well as her leadership in professional and community organizations. At AECOM, she has been tasked with building the firm's highway and corridor-focused planning practice and expanding the range of services offered to local clients.
Bilotto has participated with the American Council of Engineering Cos.' Future Leaders Program and the Women's Transportation Seminar. She has also worked with the Transportation Research Board Committee on public involvement in transportation since 2002 and was recently named committee chair. Also, she helps Georgia Tech students understand industry career opportunities and teaches the Georgia Planning Association Transportation Planning review course.
Led commercial division to a market-leading position
39, Vice President, Division Manager
Brasfield & Gorrie, Kennesaw, Ga.
Since joining contractor Brasfield & Gorrie in 1998, Ron Blalock has managed 8.5 million sq ft of construction, valued at more than $1.1 billion, with projects ranging from offices and hotels to churches, condominiums and convention centers. One project, an Atlanta office for architect-engineer Perkins+Will, earned the second-highest LEED score of any building in the world. In his present role, Blalock is responsible for pursuing and executing all phases of commercial projects, from conceptual estimates to turnover. Under his stewardship, the division has emerged as a market leader, a development he attributes to special emphasis on preconstruction, particularly the alignment of client goals and budgets and thorough training of division project managers. For the past three years, Blalock has served on the fundraising committee for Atlanta Day Shelter, which provides counseling and shelter to homeless women and children.
Senior project manager promotes local green building efforts
35, Senior Project Manager
Moss & Associates, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
With 12 years of experience in the South Florida construction industry, Stephen Chang has built a portfolio of mixed-use developments, luxury high-rise residential projects and commercial office buildings. Also over that time, Chang has championed green building practices and has become involved with Moss' sustainable/green committee. He is currently in his second term as chairman for the Miami-Dade chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council and also serves as a board member and director of leadership for the South Florida USGBC chapter.
Expert cost estimator has earned nickname of 'Dr. Doscher'
38, Chief Estimator
Gilbane Building Co., Atlanta
Chris Doscher joined Gilbane Building Co. in 2001 as a technical engineer and later transitioned into the health care team as a senior estimator at company headquarters in Providence, R.I. There, he earned the Excellence Award for advancing cost-estimating best practices. Today, as district chief estimator for the Southeast, he serves as estimating leader for all of the division's projects. Since joining the Southeast office in 2011, he has worked on 18 projects. In 2012, Doscher volunteered his cost-estimating services for a complete facilities assessment for Covenant House of Georgia, an Atlanta nonprofit organization that provides shelter to homeless and runaway youth that was in need of expansion.