International Women’s Day at Aspect

Aspect celebrated International Women’s Day with a gathering and conversation sparked by a video produced by Lean In as part of their 50 Ways to Fight Bias program. The video defined the common biases women experience at work and beyond:

  • Performance (underestimating women’s experience and performance)

  • Attribution (women get less credit for success, more blame for failure)

  • Likability (been agreeable can be seen as less competent, while being assertive can make one less likeable)

  • Maternal (choosing to become a parent can be seen has having less commitment to career)

  • Affinity (people tend to gravitate towards people who are similar in appearance and background; when only white men hold positions of power, this has a negative effect on women and people of color)

  • Compounded discrimination + Intersectionality (the compounding affect of bias due to gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, and other attributes)

Thirty-three percent of Aspect’s staff of 107 are women, including 15 percent of Aspect’s technical/engineering staff, which is slightly higher than the statewide percentages for female engineers –11 percent in Oregon and 12 percent in Washington. In 2018, 21 percent of our technical hires were women.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2019 was Balance for Better, encouraging action towards creating a more gender-balanced world. Some of our staff modeled the “Balance for Better” pose to show our commitment to finding that balance.

Breeyn Greer, EIT, Staff Environmental Engineer (left) and Amelia Oates, GIT – Staff Geologist (right) at Aspect’s Field Annex in Seattle

Amy Tice, LG, Project Geologist, and family

Carla Brock, LHG, Associate Geologist

“Balancing bike racing with my career is always a challenge, and requires that I am super organized and efficient with my time, but somehow I figure out how to make it work.” – Delia Massey, EIT, Project Engineer

Jennifer Koogler, Technical Editor

“Being the only woman in the Portland office—and in all of Aspect’s Oregon offices—doesn’t hinder my ability to stay focused and produce quality work. The attitude Aspect has towards women in the workplace is really motivating and makes me proud to be a part of the company. We have incredibly intelligent and strong women who shine brightly here, and as a young staff person, I am thankful to have them as my mentors.” –Jasmin Jamal, EIT, Staff Engineer, and Cooper on Mt. Tabor

Jessica Smith, LG, Associate Geologist

Meghan O’Brien, CWRE, Project Scientist

(Left to right) David Unruh (Staff Scientist); Chip Barnett, LEG (Senior Engineering Geologist); Isabellah von Trapp (Staff Scientist); Meilani Lanier-Kamaha’o, LG (Project Geologist); Dustin Taylor, EIT (Staff Engineer)




Meet Chip Barnett and Peter Price!

Senior Engineering Geologist Chip Barnett and Staff Scientist Peter Price recently joined Aspect—Chip in our Seattle office, and Peter in our Yakima office. Here are five questions we asked to get to know them better.

Chip Barnett - Senior Engineering Geologist

Chip_B-14.jpg
  1. Where are you from? If you’re not from the Pacific Northwest, what brought you here?

    I lived in Central and Northern California (stuck in Lodi for most of it) before I pursued a master’s degree at Portland State University. I’ve lived in the Puget Sound area with my family since 2002 and have worked in consulting in the Pacific Northwest since 1998. I think the climate really agrees with me and I like the people. My family has deep roots in Washington and Oregon, so living here just feels right.

  2. What inspired you to pursue engineering geology? What made you curious about it?

    I was fortunate to take engineering geology courses at Portland State University with Professor Scott Burns. One class had a series of case histories presented by different visiting geologists, including Jon Koloski and Richard Galster, who enjoyed long careers in our region. The variety of challenging projects and solutions they presented was a great introduction to the field of engineering geology and geotechnical engineering.

    My master’s thesis included evaluating potential flooding impacts relative to regional subsidence following a Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake in a number of coastal communities in Washington and Oregon. Speaking with some of the local city engineers about an approximate amount of anticipated subsidence and impacts was interesting. It helped me see how these hazards impact infrastructure and public safety.

  3. What do you like best about your area of expertise? What excites you and keeps you motivated?

    I enjoy finding opportunities when we can provide an innovative solution that a client really appreciates. I’m excited when I get to work in an area where I may not have worked before and get a chance to read literature or review geologic mapping to think about how that affects our project. Being licensed in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and California has given me many opportunities to work in different areas.

    I’ve also worked on a number of corridor studies (pipelines and transmission lines) where the geology and subsurface conditions can vary widely. Those projects are always really interesting, and I enjoy discussing the layout and details of figures with GIS Analysts to meet a client’s needs.

  4. What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

    We take our youngest son to a lot of swim meets and an occasional jazz band performance. I enjoy yardwork, hiking, camping, volunteering in the community (professional and local), and attending concerts—and I like to sing really loud at home, annoying everyone except our dog, Cosmo. Yes, I have done karaoke.

  5. Where in the world would your dream home be located?

    My dream house would be located on the Washington coast, preferably above elevation ~400 feet to reduce the risk of potential tsunami impacts. The house itself would be a seismically retrofitted Victorian home with solar panels, a small wind turbine, and an on-site well system that could also be used to provide passive heating.

Peter Price - Staff Scientist

Peter Price.jpg
  1. Where are you from? If you’re not from the Pacific Northwest, what brought you here?

    I was born in Pocatello, Idaho, and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I moved to the Portland, Oregon, area after high school to be closer to my extended family. I have numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins living all over the west side of Oregon.

  2. What inspired you to pursue water resources? What made you curious about it?

    I have had a zeal for hydrogeology ever since I took a course at Oregon State University. Water is a valuable resource, and the more I can understand the intricacies of our impacts and ever-growing need for this resource, the more I feel prepared to inform the next generation’s understanding and encourage a respect for and preservation of water.

  3. What do you like best about your area of expertise? What excites you and keeps you motivated?

    I would say it is the combination of mental and physical exertion. Collecting field data can be wonderfully refreshing, and physically difficult. When exhausted physically, you can sit down and turn your hard work into other people’s understanding via maps, data table, graphs, reports, etc.

  4. What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

    I enjoy going on adventures with my family. My wife, Amanda and our 3-year-old daughter, Aubrey, are usually reluctant towards my overly enthusiastic plan to drive next to some river and “adventure” along the way. After they get out of the car at the first of many stops and witness the natural beauty that surrounds them, they thank me for getting them out of the house, usually.

  5. Where in the world would you like to travel next?

    I would like to travel to Antarctica, briefly. Maybe check out the Ross Island Ice Shelf, briefly.

A Thousand Photos to Better Storytelling: The Aspect Photo Contest

In the earth science consulting world, our work is innately photogenic. Stream gauging at a quiet bend in the river. Installing new pin piles at a pier on a scenic city waterfront. Even the “grimy” photos, like well sampling at a contaminated site, provoke interest and fascination. Staff take pictures to document their technical work and those same photos are the lifeblood of firm branding and storytelling. However, Aspect’s marketing team, tasked with telling our firm’s story, can struggle with harvesting high-quality visuals. The photos are out there, yet they may be buried in forgotten file locations or staff’s work phones. Just asking “Have you got any good pictures?” yields scattershot results, which often then means reusing the same tired photos again and again.

So, a year ago, our marketing group decided that we needed a better way to consistently draw out quality photos. What better incentive than a friendly contest?

I love it, it gives me glimpse to what our field people are up to, since I am in the office 100% of the time and not a field person, I envy them the fun they have when in gorgeous location in beautiful weather and not so much when they are bundled in the snow and rain.

- Mirka Ramsey, Accounting Lead

The Idea: Prizes and Public Recognition

We started with a weekly raffle, awarding tickets to all contributors and bonus tickets for the week’s best photos – all leading up to a cash prize drawing and winners that we celebrated at quarterly firm-wide meetings. After the first call for entries, staff responded with 54 pictures. Where had these all been hiding?

If we had only received those first 50 photos, that would have been a modest success. However, we were surprised and amazed that the photos kept coming week after week. We knew we had something special when, at the first quarter’s staff meeting, the photo contest became a highlight. It turned the meeting into an informal art exhibit, where the employees and their beautiful, funny, and, often times, poetic snapshots of field and office life were the stars of the show. The idea continued to gather steam and, by the end of the year, we’d received over 1,100 photos.

It’s awesome! I love seeing the work that other folks are doing. I think it improves our company culture: gives us something to talk about with staff we might not interact with otherwise, and also gives me a better sense of pride in some of the work that I’m doing when I share my photos.

- Hannah McDonough, Staff Geologist

The Takeaways

One thousand photos later, if there’s one general takeaway, it’s that being curious and asking staff what they are working on—and learning what they’re excited about—is always worthwhile. The photos gave our marketing team materials to help tell Aspect’s story, but also delivered an unexpected benefit: they shone a light on firm culture. Over the photo contest’s first year, we found that:

The field staff’s photos remind everyone of the aesthetics of working in environmental consulting – they are outdoors a lot in both beautiful settings and grimy conditions. It’s a way to appreciate the beauty and commiserate when things are grim.

It’s not just about the projects. We got many photos of what staff are doing outside of work –biking trails, climbing mountains, running races, vacationing in places sunnier than the Pacific Northwest.

Sharing our work brings staff of all levels together around firm culture and put names to faces before people may have met in person.

Aspect staff are now in the field, at industry functions, or just in the office, with an eye out for photo opportunities.

Submitting on a regular basis helps keep taking photos in the front of my mind so I have more photos of my projects which helps when putting together reports. I enjoy seeing others as it gives insight into what the rest of the company is up to. I often get a sense of a “can-do” attitude mixed with people enjoying what they are doing.

- Bryan Berkompas, Senior Hydrologist

A Hub for Storytelling

As the photo contest enters Year Two, the marketing team now has an established source of photos to illustrate our work in proposals and spotlight our culture for recruiting. Field staff have told us that taking photos helps them with their project work and report writing. And everyone enjoys seeing what our colleagues are up to and takes pride in our collective work.

Follow our photographers on Aspect’s Instagram page.

Meet Daniel Babcock!

Staff Scientist Daniel Babcock recently joined Aspect’s Seattle office. Here are five questions we asked to get to know him better.

Daniel Babcock - Staff Scientist

Daniel Babcock in Farmington, New Mexico

Daniel Babcock in Farmington, New Mexico

  1. Where are you from? If you’re not from the Pacific Northwest, what brought you here?

    I was born in Wichita, Kansas and had lived there my whole life up until now. After living in a place with no trees or mountains for 26 years, my wife and I decided it was time for a change of scenery! Western Washington satisfied everything we were looking for in a new home i.e., opportunities, mountains, trees, and multiple Chipotle locations.

  2. What inspired you to pursue environmental science What made you curious about it?

    My background is in Geology and I fell in love with learning about the natural word—I also knew I didn’t want to work behind a computer 24/7. It seems to have worked out perfectly that I was able to find a career that allows me to combine my love for science while allowing me to work both in and outdoors.

  3. What do you like best about your area of expertise? What excites you and keeps you motivated?

    At the end of the day, it is rewarding work. There is a sense of pride that goes along with being part of a team that remediates sites and knowing that you contributed to that. It is work that feels bigger than yourself.

  4. What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

    I enjoy most things outdoors—hiking, backpacking, mountain climbing, camping, kayaking, downhill mountain Elk riding…well maybe one of those isn’t a real activity… yet. But, I also enjoy playing a few instruments like the guitar, bass, and ukulele.

  5. Where in the world would you like to travel next?

    It may not sound as cool as saying Paris or Australia but, I have always wanted to visit the New England area of the United States. I love history, and as far as the USA goes, there is a lot of history out there and I have never been out east before. So, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts are high on my list.

Meet Nick Iapalucci and Henry N. Haselton!

Technical Support Specialist Nick Iapalucci and Staff Engineer Henry N. Haselton (definitely a relation to his uncle, Aspect’s Principal Geotechnical Engineer Henry Haselton) recently joined Aspect’s Seattle office.Here are five questions we asked to get to know them better.

Nick Iapalucci - Technical Support Specialist

Nick Iapalucci, Technical Support Specialist

Nick Iapalucci, Technical Support Specialist

  1. Where are you from?

    I grew up in Carrollton, Texas and went to college in Santa Fe, New Mexico. My wife and I were ready to expand our careers and our son was starting middle school, so after finding work in Seattle we decided to make the move!

  2. What inspired you to pursue Technical Support. What made you curious about it?

    I have been in a support role in wide variety of fields: outdoor recreation, film, theater, radio, social work, childcare, and information technology. I enjoy helping people and solving problems.

  3. What do you like best about your area of expertise? What excites you and keeps you motivated?

    I think this is a very exciting time to be working with information technology! With our advances in virtualization and connectivity, I think possibilities have expanded farther than we can imagine at this point.

  4. What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

    I have family in California, Colorado, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts so traveling is a popular activity. On the weekends we camp, hike, bike, paddle, or whatever else we can come up with outside.

  5. Where would your dream house be located?

    Nowhere permanent! Our dream house will probably be an RV someday.

Henry N. Haselton - Staff Engineer

Henry N. Haselton rating the Grand Canyon.

Henry N. Haselton rating the Grand Canyon.

  1. Where are you from? If you’re not from the Pacific Northwest, what brought you here?

    I grew up on the coast of Maine in a small town called Rockport. I spent the last 7 years in Bozeman, Montana, before coming to Washington. I came to the Northwest because I love the combination of the big mountains and the ocean.

  2. What inspired you to pursue geotechnical engineering? What made you curious about it?

    I was initially drawn to civil engineering because of my interest in math and science and a desire to apply these fields to real-world problems. I have always enjoyed problem solving, so civil engineering made sense as a field to pursue. Within civil engineering, I was attracted to geotechnical engineering because of the highly variable nature of soil and rock between different locations. I have always been drawn to the outdoors, so working in an engineering field that involves site-specific field investigations and learning about varying ground conditions is a great fit for me.

  3. What do you like best about your area of expertise? What excites you and keeps you motivated?

    I like that geotechnical engineering requires lots of field work and site investigations to determine the specific conditions in a given area. I enjoy learning about the natural world surrounding us and how to allow humans to inhabit places safely and sustainably. The spatially variable soil conditions and hands-on investigation keep me motivated and interested. I am excited to learn more about the geology of the Pacific Northwest and be able to apply it to geotechnical engineering.

  4. What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

    I enjoy a wide variety of outdoor recreation, including skiing, mountain biking, hiking, backpacking, and fishing. I am trying to spend more time learning some water sports such as white water rafting and surfing. I am excited to live in the Pacific Northwest so I can explore new areas for skiing and other activities.

  5. Where in the world would you like to travel next?

    There are lots of new places I would like to visit and many I want to revisit as well. Near the top of my list for new places to travel would be doing a ski trip to Chile and Argentina in our summer (winter in the southern hemisphere).

Dan Haller Presents to the Water Mitigation Task Force

Aspect is routinely involved in helping inform State policy makers on implications of existing and proposed legislation. Our staff track and comment on existing legislation, help our clients propose new legislation, and interact with State agencies as they propose and shape new water policy. Aspect’s Dan Haller was asked in the summer of 2018 to provide a presentation on mitigation projects and mitigation sequencing to the Washington State Joint Legislative “Water Mitigation Task Force”. This Task Force is charged with evaluating how the law could be changed to adopt mitigation standards for water projects where water-for-water cannot be supplied for a project in-time and in-place. Often the “in-time” component of mitigation is the most challenging element as supply and demand are hard to match perfectly.

Dan speaks about several mitigation projects Aspect staff have worked on in recent years, including:

  • Town of Twisp / Methow Valley Irrigation District, which paired an irrigation project rehabilitation with water banking to offset growth in the Town for the next 20 years.

  • Lake Roosevelt Drawdown, which re-operates Grand Coulee Dam by 1 foot making that supply available for agricultural reliability, instream flow, and municipal use.

  • Kittitas County Consumptive Use Pilot, which seeks to clarify the exact nature and magnitude of indoor domestic use.

  • Chelan County Alluvial Storage Pilot, which seeks to engineer natural storage log jams to retime water from spring to summer.

Check out the video of Dan’s presentation below.

What to Do When Your Office Moves: Plant 900 Trees

Taking advantage of a day out of the office during our Seattle office move, the Aspect Community Team (ACT) partnered with Stewardship Partners and Carnation Farms to help with their ongoing riparian restoration efforts along the Snoqualmie River. It was a sunny, beautiful October day, and the fall colors were rich throughout the valley. Eleven employees make the trek to Carnation and spent a few hours planting shrubs and trees including western red cedar, snowberry, salmonberry, and cottonwoods. We had help from four stewardship partner field crew who also placed cottonwood stakes among the trees and shrubs.

Aspect’s volunteer staff donated their day to plant over 900 trees along the Snoqualmie River to help Stewardship Partners and Carnation Farms.

Why Carnation Farms? A brief history:

In 1908, the first 360 acres of farmland were purchased, and Carnation Farms was created. Now the farm totals 818 acres and includes an 8-acre organic garden, educational programs, event space, hiking trails, and is bordered by a stretch of the Snoqualmie River. A byproduct of the agricultural growth in the region was the destruction of the natural riparian ecosystems along the river throughout the valley. Stewardship Partners has been working with Carnation Farms to restore the habitat along the Snoqualmie River as a component to their adopt-a-buffer program.

Why is riparian habitat restoration important?

Planting native trees and shrubs is the primary component of restoration and maintenance of healthy riparian ecosystems. As Stewardship Partners explains, the strips of native trees and shrubs provide cooling shade, control erosion and provide habitat for hundreds of fish and wildlife species. Trees and shrubs actively absorb air pollution throughout their lifetime, storing carbon and fighting climate change.

What is the impact of a half-day of service?

In about 3-4 hours of diligent work we planted 960 shrubs, trees, and stakes across approximately 0.5 acres of riparian habitat along the Snoqualmie River. This effort would have taken at least a week without the ACT volunteers. Stewardship Partners will do some maintenance the area and in about a year we should be able to see if our efforts truly take root.

Previous and ongoing ACTivities and service projects:

Aspect has partnered with Stewardship Partners previously for the design and installation of the Carnation Elementary School raingarden. The raingarden installation is part of a greater 12,000 Rain Gardens effort, and Aspect is also in coordination for another volunteer raingarden project! Stewardship Partners has been a great organization to work with and Aspect is a proud supporter-- pro-bono technical design, education and consulting services, volunteer labor, and funding.

November 1 at NWGIS 2018: The Art of the Helpful GIS Presentation

Associate Data Scientist Parker Wittman and Senior Geospatial Data Scientist Blair Deaver will be on a panel — “The Art of the Helpful GIS Presentation” — this Thursday at NWGIS 2018 in Bremerton. The four-person panel presents on tips and techniques to deliver a GIS presentation at a conference or at the office.  Parker will discuss ways to improve the delivery of a presentation and Blair will present on tips to master a successful technical demonstration.

ESRI President Jack Dangermond is giving the highly anticipated keynote speech at this year’s conference on the future of GIS.

New Seattle Address. Same Focus on Earth Science and Engineering.

As we near 20 years in business, Aspect has moved its Seattle office to a new address and bigger space in Seattle’s iconic Dexter Horton building. Our expanding client base and growing staff—now over 100 strong across seven offices in Washington and Oregon—is driving the move.

“The Pacific Northwest is thriving and so is the demand for our earth and water services,” says Tim Flynn, Aspect’s President. “This move represents the culmination of almost two decades of upward growth driven by clients in the Seattle market and throughout the Pacific Northwest.”

The Dexter Horton building—located in the heart of Seattle—has a combination of grand architectural aesthetic with innovative modern features. The 1926 building is a historical landmark as well as LEED Gold-certified. Aspect’s office on the 5th floor was designed intentionally to provide clients and staff with a variety of ways to collaborate, including open layout areas and comfortable meeting spaces.

Come visit us at 710 Second Ave, Suite 550, Seattle, WA 98104!

Learn how to get here/where to park/what to eat.

Meet Ingrid Ekstrom and David Unruh!

Project Hydrogeologist Ingrid Ekstrom and Staff Scientist David Unruh recently joined Aspect — Ingrid in our Yakima office and David in our Seattle office. Here are five questions we asked to get to know them better.

Ingrid Ekstrom.jpg

Ingrid Ekstrom, Project Hydrogeologist

  1. Where are you from? If you’re not from the Pacific Northwest, what brought you here?
    I am originally from Memphis, Tennessee, but have lived in Ellensburg for the past 13 or so years. I spent a couple years in Wisconsin before moving to Washington with my husband, and we have really enjoyed living in central Washington ever since.

  2. What inspired you to pursue water resources? What made you curious about it?

    My background is first in geology. After college, I worked with the US Geological Survey on a couple projects assisting with landslide hazard mapping in Nicaragua and river recognizance work in the southern US looking for liquefaction features from past earthquakes in the area. Both projects had water components that I found very interesting, and I decided to study hydrogeology in graduate school. I was really drawn to the practical side of the field. Moving to the western US in an arid area made me interested in water supply and water rights management. Then, working at the Washington State Department of Ecology and later at the Department of Natural Resources, I had a chance to learn and work with water rights and was enjoyed being able to rely on my hydrogeology background for a variety of projects.

  3. What do you like best about your area of expertise? What excites you and keeps you motivated?

    I enjoy water resources and hydrogeology because there are always unique challenges to figure out and problems to solve that allow me to constantly learn. I also appreciate that water resources involves a variety of disciplines that keep changing over time. Past experiences working with water rights have given me a chance to see things from different perspectives, and I really enjoy working with and learning from other people active in or reliant on the field.

  4. What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

    When I’m not working, I love spending time with my family. I like traveling, hiking, going to the park with my kids, or just relaxing in the backyard. We started a small garden and are working on expanding it this next year. The kids’ activities keep me busy. And, as they have gotten old enough to stand upright on skis, we are all learning cross-country skiing (and falling) together, and we are excited for the snow this year. We live a distance away from family and enjoy traveling for visits to the Midwest and Argentina.

  5. Where in the world would you like to travel next?

    I would like to take a family car trip camping and traveling through National Parks in the western US. I would also love to go to southern Argentina to visit the glaciers and then travel back to Costa Rica and check out the animals and volcanos with the kids. In the near and more practical future, I would like to visit the north Cascades and northeastern Washington.

David Unruh.jpg

David Unruh, Staff Scientist

  1. Where are you from? If you’re not from the Pacific Northwest, what brought you here?

    I grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, and moved to the mountains in Flagstaff, Arizona, as soon as I finished high school. I moved to Pullman, Washington, in 2016 to complete my MS at Washington State. While in Pullman, I made frequent trips to Seattle to visit my sister, and quickly resolved to move as soon as I finished my degree. I really enjoy spending time in the mountains as well as having easy access to music and art, and Seattle has all that in spades.

  2. What inspired you to pursue geology? What made you curious about it?

    Geology was a bit of a shot in the dark for me. I had a great environmental science teacher in high school who got me started on the natural sciences, but I really was just guessing when I enrolled in the geology program at Northern Arizona University. I knew I wanted to do something in the sciences that would allow me to be outside a lot, and geology seemed like a great discipline for me. My guess turned out to be astute, and I have continued to pursue my interest in geology and environmental science ever since!

  3. What do you like best about your area of expertise? What excites you and keeps you motivated?

    The thing I enjoy most about geology is the ability to infer large-scale processes from basic data points, like interpreting complex folding and faulting relationships at depth exclusively from surface strike and dip data. It’s really interesting to me to be able to apply these principles to the interactions people have with the earth.

  4. What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

    I’m a big outdoors person, so I try to get out to the mountains as frequently as possible. My sport of choice is mountain biking, but I’ve been doing more rock climbing and backpacking since moving to Seattle. When I’m not outside, I like to fix bikes and find good concerts to attend.

  5. Where in the world would you like to travel next?

    I took a trip to Seoul, South Korea, in the summer of 2017 that made me really interested in visiting more of Asia. I hope to make it out to Osaka, Japan, or do a road trip on mopeds through Vietnam sometime soon.

Aspect's Henry Haselton and Dave McCormack to Co-Chair Upcoming Landslide Seminar

Principal Geotechnical Engineer Henry Haselton, PE, PMP, and Principal Engineering Geologist Dave McCormack, LEG, LHG, will serve as co-chairs on the upcoming Landslides program for The Seminar Group on Thursday, October 25, 2018, at 9 am the Washington Athletic Club. This seminar covers the science behind slope movement and landslides in Washington and discusses the liability concerns for a wide audience of attorneys, claims professionals, and real estate experts. Henry and Dave’s presentation will focus on the science of landslides, including the different types, their causes, and methods for stabilization.

Register to attend today.

Aspect Joins The Nature Conservancy and Microsoft to Hack for Good

Aspect’s Curtis Nickerson and Bryan Berkompas recently participated in a Hackathon with The Nature Conservancy and Microsoft employees. The Hack for Good event focused on developing low-cost stormwater monitoring solutions that could identify pollutants and collect data in real time.

Read more about this event on the Nature Conservancy's website.

Henry Haselton named President-Elect of ASCE Seattle Section

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) – Seattle Section has a new President-Elect: Aspect’s Principal Engineer Henry Haselton.

Henry was voted in by the Seattle Section in June. He will serve as President-Elect under incoming President Eset Alemu this year, and then transition to President in October 2019. Henry has been a member of the ASCE since joining the student chapter 26 years ago and has served on several committees, most recently as Program Co-Chair, where he was tasked with brainstorming meeting topics and recruiting speakers for the section’s monthly dinner meetings.

As part of his transition to President-Elect, Henry attended the ASCE Region 8 Fall Assembly Meeting in Spokane, where he met leadership from all the western states and ASCE National President Kristina Swallow. Attendees were treated to an “engineers tour” of the Grand Coulee dam, where they learned about the inner workings of the dam from an experienced operator at the facility.

Henry also recently attended the ASCE President and Governors Forum (PGF) Event in Washington D.C., where he participated in trainings with ASCE leaders from around the world. The PGF training provides best practices to effectively lead a Section/Branch.

Henry is joined by other Aspect colleagues in the ASCE Seattle Section. Project Geotechnical Engineer Spencer Ambauen, EIT, is taking over Henry’s position as Program Co-Chair. Staff Engineer Mari Otto, EIT, is in her second term as Host and Hospitality Co-Chair, where she coordinates with the host venue and oversees meeting registration.

Aspect’s ASCE team kicked off the 2018-2019 season earlier in September with presentations on the upcoming demolition of the SR99 Viaduct and the Pier 62 Replacement, a project where Aspect is the geotechnical engineer-of-record. The ASCE Seattle Section Geotechnical Group’s first dinner meeting of the season was on Thursday, September 27 in Seattle. Professor Russell A. Green, PhD, a Professor of Civil Engineering at Virginia Tech, spoke on region-specific probabilistic liquefaction hazard analyses through a pilot study done in the Netherlands due to induced seismicity from natural gas production. Learn about upcoming events here.

Dave Cook to Discuss Reclaiming Brownfields for Affordable Housing at Housing Development Consortium Event

On September 18, join Aspect’s Dave Cook and Perkins Coie’s Mike Dunning as they share their experience developing innovative ways to reclaim brownfields for affordable housing. Dave and Mike will be joined by representatives from project partner agencies Mt. Baker Housing Association and the Washington State Department of Ecology in discussing Mt Baker Housing’s The Maddux – a two-building development with 144 apartments affordable to people earning up to 60 percent of the area median income. This project was made possible by implementing innovative cleanup solutions and identifying creative funding mechanisms. Learn More Here.

Meet Bill Grimm and Isabellah von Trapp

Staff Scientist Bill Grimm and Staff Scientist Isabellah von Trapp recently joined Aspect -- Bill in our Bainbridge office and Isabellah in our Seattle office. Here are five questions we asked to get to know them better.

Bill Grimm.jpg

Bill Grimm, Staff Scientist

  1. Where are you from? If you’re not from the Pacific Northwest, what brought you here? 
    I’m from the suburbs of Chicago originally. I came to Seattle a little over a year after graduating from college to do a master’s program in applied geosciences at the University of Washington. My master’s program was a great fit for me, because it combined two of my passions: earth science, and giving back to the communities in which I live. Seattle, and the Pacific Northwest in general, are incredibly interesting geologically, and the program presented a great opportunity to study real earth science-related issues happening in our own backyards.
     
  2. What inspired you to pursue geology? What made you curious about it?
    I really fell in love with geology when I was on a family vacation to the Grand Canyon when I was about 10 years old. I had always loved maps and cross sections since I was a kid, and seeing the Grand Canyon in real life made me absolutely fascinated with the Earth and its natural processes.
     
  3. What do you like best about your area of expertise? What excites you and keeps you motivated? 
    My favorite part of geology is that it’s like a big puzzle. You start with what you know, and you try to fit the pieces together to make the problem make sense. Along the way, you discover new pieces of the puzzle that fit in to the whole, and the more you discover (generally), the clearer the bigger picture becomes.
     
  4. What do you like to do when you aren’t working? 
    I like to hang out with my wife, hike, play guitar, ski, and read. I’m also planning to start brewing my own beer sometime soon.
     
  5. Where in the world would you like to travel next? 
    I would love to do a trek from northern India through Nepal to the Mt. Everest base camp. I love knowing where I am in the world geologically and geographically and being able to picture myself on a map, and I think it would be awesome to walk from the flats in India across the plate boundary and all the way to the base of the highest mountain above sea level.

Isabellah von Trapp, Staff Scientist

Isabellah enjoying Death Valley geology.

Isabellah enjoying Death Valley geology.

  1. Where are you from? If you’re not from the Pacific Northwest, what brought you here? 
    I grew up in Salem, Oregon but I always knew I wanted to live in the Puget Sound-area. I attended college in Tacoma at PLU then set out for grad school in Missoula, Montana. But, after a couple years of cold-ish winters, I was ready to head back to my beloved, rainy PNW where I could easily access the mountains, ocean, and my family within a short arm’s reach. 
     
  2. What inspired you to pursue water resources? What made you curious about it?
    For most of my growing up years, I strongly believed I wanted to be a dentist…but after about 1 semester in college, I quickly realized that was not the life for me. After floundering around in some general education classes the following semester, I decided to take an introductory-level geoscience class and my mind was blown.

    Soon thereafter, I declared myself as a geoscience major. I took a wide array of geology classes but out of all of them, I loved hydrogeology and geochemistry the most.  After that, it only seemed natural to seek out a master’s thesis project where I could combine both of those things! Fortunately, I’ve been able to pursue a career that allows me to use those skills and develop new ones. 
     
  3. What do you like best about your area of expertise? What excites you and keeps you motivated? 
    Everybody needs water. Working in water resources is not only interesting but it allows me to solve real world problems that affect a lot of people. Any job that allows you to simultaneously do science and help people is a cool one in my book. 
     
  4. What do you like to do when you aren’t working? 
    Most of the time, I’m daydreaming about what I’m going to eat next. So, in my free time I enjoy perusing every item at Trader Joe’s, cooking, and baking. Aside from that – I  also love to camp, hike, swim, knit, try out new beers, and travel just about anywhere! 
     
  5. Where in the world would you like to travel next? 
    Iceland, Ireland, and Israel – apparently I have a thing for countries starting with the letter I. 

Meet Chad Hearn and Jason Yabandeh

Project Engineer Chad Hearn and Staff Data Scientist/Chemist Jason Yabandeh both recently joined Aspect's Seattle office. Here are five questions we asked to get to know them better.

Chad Hearn - Project Engineer

Chad and baby llama in Colca Canyon, Peru.

Chad and baby llama in Colca Canyon, Peru.

  1.  Where are you from? If you’re not from the Pacific Northwest, what brought you here? 
    I grew up in Charleston, South Carolina. It was such a beautiful and fun place to grow up, and a great place to visit if you get a chance. After school, I lived in North Carolina before venturing this way. There’s so much that drew me here!  If I had to pinpoint a few things it would be the climate, the Puget Sound, and the energy around outdoor activities like biking, skiing, and just getting out in the mountains. And I’m pretty sure we have the best summer weather in the country!
     
  2. What inspired you to pursue environmental consulting and remediation?
    I think it was a pretty natural fit with my desire to have a hand in improving where we live and being motivated by helping others succeed. Remediation projects have tended to provide a lot of variety in the work side of the balance. Every site has its unique challenges and keeps you on your toes. There’s always a good learning experience to be had.
     
  3. What excites you and keeps you motivated? 
    It’s quite rewarding at the end of the day when you can say you’ve helped keep someone’s water supply clean, or maybe you just helped a client find a way to tackle a problem. I get really excited when I can help someone else look good. Environmental regulations, just like everything else around us, are constantly evolving. It’s exciting to have a hand in finding new ways to achieve outcomes that are better for everyone. 
     
  4. What do you like to do when you aren’t working? 
    Shocker alert; when I’m not working I’m doing my best to explore the PNW and enjoy the outdoors. These days it’s mostly weekend camping trips with the pup, biking, skiing, reading, occasionally squeezing in a round of golf, and if I’m lucky catching a surf session along the frigid Pacific coast. And when I’m able to find some extended time off, travelling somewhere new is always a priority.
     
  5. Where in the world would you like to travel next? Where would your dream house be located? 
    Perhaps this is one of the reasons I like to travel to new places. How do you pick a place for a dream house when you’ve only caught a glimpse of the possibilities?  Hopefully one day I find one. Until then…the criteria would have to be somewhere with a breeze, perhaps on a cliff overlooking an ocean (one that I can somewhat manageably get down to beach from), with mountains nearby, decent surf to keep me active and in the water, and maybe even have space for an organic farm and garden so I don’t have to sit in a car that will then be driving me to a grocery store on its own.

Jason Yabandeh - Staff Data Scientist/Chemist

At a Darrington, Washington farm with Bob (grey) and Howard (orange).

At a Darrington, Washington farm with Bob (grey) and Howard (orange).

 

  1. Where are you from? If you’re not from the Pacific Northwest, what brought you here? I’ve lived in the Puget Sound area for my whole life, which is great because I love this little corner of the world.
     
  2. What inspired you to pursue data management? What made you curious about it?While my background is in chemistry, I was drawn to data management by an appreciation of its power. Everything we do in work and life involves data and having good control and understanding of that data is key in making accurate conclusions.
     
  3. What do you like best about your area of expertise? What excites you and keeps you motivated? Working in data allows me to get involved with many different interesting projects. It’s fun to learn about a site and then play with the data and see trends in contaminant concentrations -- which are hopefully on the decline! It’s also a great excuse to practice programming. 
     
  4. What do you like to do when you aren’t working? I’ll take any chance I can get to go running, biking, hiking, or swimming with my two dogs. They are great training buddies for the Spartan races that I like to run every year. Besides the outdoorsy stuff, I really enjoy getting a few friends together for some games of the video or board variety. The current favourites are Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Word Slam.
     
  5. If you could be with any musical artist living or dead, who would it be?
    Definitely Queen. Not even necessarily to perform with them, as it would be an obvious understatement to say that my musical abilities pale in comparison, but just so I could bask in their glory.

Aspect’s Henry Haselton and Dave McCormack Join October Landslide Seminar

Aspect’s Principal Geotechnical Engineer Henry Haselton and Principal Engineering Geologist Dave McCormack will participate as faculty at The Seminar Group's Landslides program on October 25, 2018 at the Washington Athletic Club in Seattle. This seminar covers the science behind slope movement and landslides in Washington and discusses the liability concerns for a wide audience of attorneys, claims professionals, and real estate experts.

Register to attend today.

Meet Hannah McDonough and Taylor Rulien

Staff Geologist Hannah McDonough and GIS Analyst Taylor Rulien recently joined our Seattle office. Here are five questions we asked to get to know them better.

Hannah McDonough - Staff Geologist

Hannah sailing in the Puget Sound

Hannah sailing in the Puget Sound

  1. Where are you from? If you’re not from the Pacific Northwest, what brought you here?
    I grew up in a log cabin on a dirt road in Vermont. As a kid, I cross-country skied, hiked, and tapped maple trees right outside my front door. I gained an appreciation for the natural world, which led me to study geology at the University of Rochester in New York. During field camp in Wyoming, I realized that I needed to be in the west to get a better sense of active geology. I went on to study at Utah State University and eventually found work in environmental consulting. I’ve stayed for the sushi, mountains, and water.
     
  2. What inspired you to pursue geology? 
    On a field trip in high school, we visited a local mountain and observed glacial striations in the large granitic bedrock. I was so taken by the power of earth’s movements around me, that I had to figure out how this happened and what other wonders are out there to explore. I felt right at home in the geology department since we got to dig up fossils and hike out to coal mines in Pennsylvania.
     
  3.  What do you like best about your area of expertise? 
    I am drawn to the results of environmental consulting. It is very rewarding to work on projects across the state and a few years later point out, “that’s a place where I made a small improvement in this corner of the world.” I also enjoy the travel. I’ve seen more of Washington State during site visits than some locals see in a lifetime. It’s a great way to learn more about this dynamic state.
     
  4. What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
    I took a year off from consulting and delved into the sailing world. I enjoy harnessing the power of the wind to explore new places and familiar places from a new perspective. I am also an amateur violinist, and love to jam with friends and family.
     
  5. If you could be onstage with any musical artist living or dead, who would it be?
    Andrew Bird is my musical hero. It’d be a dream to be on stage fiddling and whistling with him.

Taylor Rulien - GIS Analyst

Taylor lounging on the north ridge of Mt. Stuart in Washington's central Cascades

Taylor lounging on the north ridge of Mt. Stuart in Washington's central Cascades

  1. Where are you from? If you’re not from the Pacific Northwest, what brought you here?
    I was born and raised in Alaska, this gave me a love for the outdoors but also a need to explore different states due to the isolation. I’ve since lived across the West from Oregon, California, Colorado, and now Washington. Washington has hit a good balance for me between the excitement of having a large city to the vast mountainous wilderness – I plan on calling this place home for a long time.
     
  2. What inspired you to pursue GIS? 
    I’ve always been fascinated by maps and GIS is a great way to keep that alive. With the large amount of spatial data available through our smartphones and other devices, there is a growing need and ability for exciting spatial analysis.
     
  3. What do you like best about your area of expertise? What excites you and keeps you motivated? 
    GIS is such a broad discipline, this allows me to continue to learn different skillsets from automation through programming, cartography, application development, and more complicated analysis.
     
  4. What do you like to do when you aren’t working? 
    I like doing anything in the outdoors. You’ll find me either climbing rocks, ice, or trail running in the mountains and enjoying a post IPA and burger at the closest brewery. Let me know if you are ever interested in an outdoor activity!
     
  5. Where in the world would you like to travel next? 
    There are dozens of places that I would love to travel to in the world but going back to Spain might be the most realistic and exciting for me. There are numerous world class climbing destinations!

Washington's Healthy Housing Program Helps Fund Cleanup for Affordable Housing

Today, the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce (DJC) published a great overview of the new Washington State Healthy Housing Program and the inspiration for the program - Mt. Baker Housing's $55 million Maddux project. Check it out.

Does your firm want help turning brownfields into affordable units?

Ecology wants to offer grants to get brownfields cleaned up and reused, and is seeking applications from developers until Saturday.

By BENJAMIN MINNICK
Journal Construction Editor

There are thousands of blighted properties across the state that could be redeveloped to create more affordable housing, but contamination on these sites has mostly kept developers at bay.

Now the state and its consultants are testing a way to get more of these sites developed. The Healthy Housing Remediation Program provides grants to help affordable housing developers build on brownfields.

The departments of Ecology and Commerce created the program. To gauge interest, they are seeking applications from developers until Saturday. The list of firms that respond will be used to develop Ecology's 2019–21 cleanup budget plan and to demonstrate funding needs for the Legislature to consider during the 2019 session.

Dave Cook of Aspect Consulting, one of the consulting firms, said affordable housing developers face high property costs, water rights issues and Growth Management Act restraints. He said this program will help fund remedial investigation studies and site cleanup to make blighted properties more attractive to developers.

The program was inspired by Mt. Baker Housing's $55 million Maddux project, which is slated for a site on South McClellan Street, east of Martin Luther King Jr. Way South and near the Mount Baker light rail station.

Maddux will have two buildings with 144 apartments that are affordable to people earning up to 60 percent of the area median income. Nearly half of the units will be “family-size,” with two- and three-bedroom layouts.

Mt. Baker Housing will use $6.2 million in state funds to clean up contamination from a gas station and dry cleaner. The nonprofit signed an agreement last year with Ecology that lays out the cleanup plan, and Ecology provided $400,000 for initial studies.

“We've been in the Mount Baker neighborhood a long time and these five properties always intrigued us — but we knew conventional options to develop the site were limited,” said Conor Hansen, director of real estate at Mt. Baker Housing, in a news release. “Once we learned about the opportunity to work with the Department of Ecology and play a part in creating a new innovative model, we believed this site would be the perfect candidate to clean up, develop and activate a prominent intersection that will serve as a catalyst for the neighborhood and provide much-needed affordable housing near light rail.”

In early 2017, the city designated the five properties as a Redevelopment Opportunity Zone, which allows state funds to flow directly to Mt. Baker Housing for remediation.

The parcels total about a half-acre.

Mt. Baker Housing aims to select a general contractor shortly, and break ground in late 2019 and open in early 2021. Other team members are architect Mithun, development consultant Beacon Development Group and acquisition lender Impact Capital.

Cook said it will be two months before all the data is available about the site contamination, but it's “very contaminated.”

Aspect and law firm Perkins Coie led the environmental team for Mt. Baker Housing, and worked with Ecology on the pilot program.

Cook said Aspect and Perkins Coie can help interested developers with the pilot program's application process.