Eight WSB staff members pass Professional Engineer exam

June 27, 2019

Minneapolis, Minn. – WSB is pleased to congratulate eight team members who recently passed their Professional Engineer exam. The Principles and Practice of Engineering exam is an examination required to become a Professional Engineer in the United States. To become licensed, engineers must complete a four-year college degree, have at least four years of relevant work experience and pass two intensive competency exams.

According to the Society of Women Engineers, only 13 percent of engineers in the workforce today are women. In recent years, WSB has been working on diversity and inclusion efforts both inside the company and throughout the AEC industry. Four of the eight new Professional Engineers are women.

Meet our newest Professional Engineers:

Dylan Casey, PE
Dylan Casey recently joined WSB from the Montana Department of Transportation where he worked as a civil engineering specialist. At WSB, Dylan will specialize in field and construction engineering.

Chris Bunders, PE
Chris Bunders is a lead design engineer who specializes in planning and civil engineering for transportation, transit and municipal projects in Minnesota.

Lydia Ener, PE
Lydia Ener is a municipal engineer who specializes in feasibility reports, utility design, drafting, community engagement and construction observation and has partnered with many cities throughout the Twin Cities metro.

Alex Miller, PE
Alex Miller is a municipal engineer who works closely with cities in Minnesota to help solve their infrastructure problems. Alex specializes in residential construction projects and she was recently named the Young Engineer of the Year by the Minnesota Society of Professional Engineers in 2018.

Austin Becker, PE
Austin is a professional engineer in WSB’s Bismarck office. His experience includes transportation design for both the public and private sectors, as well as construction inspection in linear highway and municipal settings. He has worked on both large and small-scale transportation systems on both state and county roadways.

Veronica Kubicek, PE
Veronica Kubicek is a professional engineer in WSB’s Bismarck office who specializes in inspection, sign data collection, utility coordination, roadway design and plan development. Veronica takes a tech-forward approach to design work and relies on several digital design programs to bring projects to life.

Evan Schnitker, PE
Evan Schnitker is a professional engineer who specializes in the design and completion of transportation infrastructure projects. Evan’s experience extends from preliminary design through final design and construction administration.

Stephanie Hatten, PE
Stephanie Hatten is a professional engineer with experience in water resource planning and engineering including surface water plan updates, long-range planning and stormwater best management practices. Stephanie is also a Certified Floodplain Manager and assists with floodplain management and agency permitting.

Ways to keep your MS4 program audit-proof

By Meghan Litsey, Sr. Environmental Scientist, WSB

Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) communities tend to dread the words “compliance audit”. The auditing process can be intimidating, but it can also provide an opportunity to highlight positive aspects of your community. Local agencies like the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) can offer insight about the process and help generate ideas for your MS4 program. Right now, the MPCA is conducting regular compliance audits despite the new MS4 permitting that is anticipated to take effect later this year.

So, it’s important to keep your MS4 program up to standard and audit-proof all year round.

Why does the MPCA perform audits?

The MPCA performs audits on MS4 programs per the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA requires routine audits to evaluate permittees for program compliance, best management practices, and identified performance goals. To meet this mandate, the MPCA has committed to completing approximately 33 MS4 program audits per year to ensure a timely and proper evaluation of each permittee.

Getting ready for an MS4 audit?

Try these tips to keep your MS4 program audit-proof.

  1. Conduct a mock audit. Use guidance documents from the MPCA and EPA to conduct a mock audit. Now is the time to identify potential areas of improvement before you’re faced with an actual MS4 audit.
  2. Plan ahead. Create a 12-month schedule for specific requirements to stay on track. For example, you should schedule MS4 inspection and training dates well in advance. You may also want to include publication deadlines to ensure any article submissions are delivered on time.
  3. Document everything. Documentation is your best ally in an audit scenario. Find a recordkeeping system that works and stick to it. And be sure to take credit for your work.
  4. Partner up. Why recreate the wheel? Consider partnering with other MS4s or local groups and share permit responsibilities. Otherwise, you can also utilize existing partnerships and discuss sharing responsibilities.
  5. Invest in your staff. Field staff are the first line of defense when it comes to protecting your MS4 system from illicit discharges. Ensure all field staff, including seasonal and contracted staff, are trained on the importance of their role in protecting water quality.

Meghan Litsey is a Senior Environmental Scientist on our environmental team with over eight years of experience. She specializes in providing environmental compliance services in construction site permitting, SWPPP design and inspection, and MS4 program development. 

WSB, Brooklyn Park & Brooklyn Center secure $150,000 grant

WSB assisted Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center in securing a Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Youth at Work Competitive Grant for a combined $150,000 in funding. The funding will be used for the cities’ collaborative workforce development program BrookLynk in 2020 and 2021. Directed by Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park, BrookLynk is a youth employment program dedicated to addressing the regional talent and workforce needs of the communities through a strategy that explicitly supports and invests in young people facing barriers to employment. The grant funding will assist in scaling the program to help train more youth to join the future workforce and build the talent pipeline.

WSB opens Austin office to expand engineering, design and consulting services for local clients

June 17, 2019

Austin, Texas – Fast-growing Minneapolis-based engineering firm WSB has cemented its entrance into the Austin market by opening a new office this week at 1221 S. Mopac Expressway in the Barton Hills neighborhood. WSB, which provides engineering, planning, environmental and construction services for the public and private sectors, has been active in the Austin area for the past two years.

“The Austin market has been a great fit for the culture of our company, and we’re very excited to establish a new office here so that we can continue to grow our team and expand the services available to our Austin area clients,” said WSB President and CEO Bret Weiss.

WSB entered the Austin market in 2017. In 2018, the firm acquired Austin-based Rogers Design Services (RDS), a well-respected local engineering firm. Now, WSB has six employees including the original staff from RDS and has immediate plans to increase staffing in Austin by more than 50 percent in the next year. The firm has worked with Hays County, Williamson County, the City of Cedar Park and the City of Georgetown on roadway and utility design projects as well as land-use planning.

“Like Minneapolis-St. Paul, Austin is a progressive capital city,” said Jay Kennedy, vice president of Texas Operations for WSB. “The region is growing rapidly and making smart investments in infrastructure. This is the type of environment where we can provide valuable insight and smart solutions to the challenges ahead.”

Headquartered in Minneapolis, WSB is the fourth-largest engineering firm in the Twin Cities. When it was founded in 1995, the company had five staff, one office and three different services areas. Today, the company offers services in more than 25 areas, employs more than 450 people and has expanded its markets beyond Minnesota with 12 offices across four different states.

WSB expands C-suite, opens Austin, Texas office to accommodate recent growth

June 17, 2019

Minneapolis, Minn. – Fast-growing Minneapolis engineering firm WSB has expanded its leadership team and opened an office in Austin, Texas this week, to accommodate significant growth in recent years. The company has grown 38 percent since 2015, and has added a chief financial officer, vice president of marketing and communications, and corporate counsel in the last year. Most recently, WSB named Jon Chiglo the company’s first-ever chief operating officer (COO). Chiglo, who also leads WSB’s transportation division, will help grow the business through new efficiencies and opportunities.

“WSB’s impressive growth is a testament to our commitment to our clients’ success, and our bold vision for the future,” said Chiglo. “I’m looking forward to taking on this role as we move into this new chapter.”

WSB is now the fourth-largest engineering firm in the Twin Cities. When it was founded in 1995, the company had five staff, one office and three different services areas. Today, the company offers services in more than 25 areas, employs more than 450 people and has expanded its markets beyond Minnesota with 12 offices across four different states. The firm opened its newest office this week in Austin, Texas, where they’ve been working with municipal clients for the past two years. Plans to open a new office in Denver later this year are underway as well.

“As we’re growing our roster of clients in the public and private sectors and building expertise in new practice areas, we felt it was important to grow our leadership team as well as our brick and mortar space to support better experiences for our clients,” said Bret Weiss, WSB President and CEO. “Since our inception in 1995, we’ve had a startup mentality. Now, we’ve reached a place where we can be more strategic about our future.”

WSB is ranked #7 on the Star Tribune’s 2019 Top Workplaces list, making its seventh consecutive appearance. The engineering firm was also recently named #66 on the Zweig Group’s Hot Firm List, the firm’s sixth consecutive appearance. Zweig’s Hot Firm list honors the fastest growing firms in the AEC industry.  Firms are ranked based on three-year revenue growth. Additionally, WSB received a number of prominent awards in the past year for work on projects such as Afton’s Old Village preservation and the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Corridors of Commerce project.

WSB named a 2019 Top Workplace in Minnesota

WSB is honored to be named one of the Top 150 Workplaces in Minnesota by the Star Tribune – ranking #7 on the top Midsize Employers list.  For seven consecutive years, we have received this prestigious honor, recognizing the most progressive companies in Minnesota based on employee opinions measuring engagement, organizational health and satisfaction.

We are extremely thankful to have the industry’s best and brightest on our team.  Together, we think big and take the lead to inspire change.  We are a collective of curious and creative thinkers that are proud to work together to build what’s next in infrastructure.  We want to take a moment to publicly thank our staff for continuing to strengthen our culture.

As we look to the future, we remain committed to creating an environment where our staff feel valued, have fulfilling work and feel like they belong.

Planning tips for effective wetland permitting

Alison Harwood, Director of Natural Resources, WSB

As someone who has been on both the regulator and applicant side of the table, I understand that wetland permitting can seem like a complicated task, involving multiple review agencies and months of careful planning. I’ve witnessed frustrated project developers after growing impatient with the process, and concerned regulators who feared the appropriate steps to minimize impacts were not taken. However, if anticipated correctly, the permitting process can be smooth and painless.

As we approach growing season, it is helpful to understand the project development steps for areas that feature wetlands – even if you don’t expect to impact them.

  1. Identify wetlands.

This should be one of the first steps taken during project planning. A desktop-level delineation can be completed anytime by a wetland professional and is used to determine the potential for wetlands on the project site.

Do not assume your site does not have wetlands.

Depending on the results of the review, an onsite wetland delineation may be needed, which can only be completed during specific times of the year (i.e. growing season). Missing this window can cause delays in your project or force you to make design assumptions based on inaccurate data, which can increase the risk for redesign once field data is available.

From the beginning of a delineation to having approved boundaries can take several weeks or months, so advanced planning is essential if the project development indicates a shorter construction timeline. Assigning a trained wetland delineator is important during this step to ensure project boundaries are accurately identified and reported to local reviewing agencies. Mismanagement at this stage can result in extra work and time delays. Once the boundary data is collected, project developers can update the design plan and determine if wetland impacts will occur.

  1. Examine potential impacts early.

Wetland impact approvals should always be obtained before you begin local project planning (i.e. plat approval) and identifying potential impacts early in design is key. This ensures that wetland regulation agencies are afforded the opportunity to review site plans and suggest ways to minimize impact and reduce the developer’s risk of costly design changes or permit denial.

  1. Contact local wetland regulation agencies.

If impacts are expected, it’s a good idea at this point to inform the local wetland regulation agencies and plan a pre-application meeting. There are several agencies that regulate wetlands and keeping all informed is vital to ensure the permitting process stays on track. The most common agencies that are involved include the Wetland Conservation Act (WCA) Local Government Unit (LGU), US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and in some areas of the state, Watershed Districts (WD) or Watershed Management Organizations (WMO). Learn more about these wetland regulation agencies.

The amount of impact proposed for a project can affect the length of the review process. The following approval timelines can be used as a guide:


Permit Type Days to Approval
WCA LGU Wetland Impact Replacement Plan 60 days
DNR Public Waters Permit 60 days
USACE* Nationwide or General Permit (<0.5 acre) 60 – 90 days
Letter of Permission (0.5 – 3 acres) 4 – 9 months
Individual Permit (> 3 acres)

9 – 24 months

*Permit thresholds reported are for non-transportation projects.

Approvals through Watershed Districts Management Organizations vary, so project developers should refer to local guidelines for application and review timelines.

Often, the reviews described above are independent of each other. Approvals from one agency (ie: WCA LGU) does not eliminate the need for approvals from other agencies (ie: DNR). While the agencies may communicate with each other, developers are ultimately responsible for ensuring permit applications are received by each individual agency.

Below is a general timeline of project tasks that should be completed prior to getting approval by local agencies.

Task Completion in Months (Prior to Local Plan Approval)
Wetland Delineation 8 months prior
Delineation Approval 6 months prior
Permit Pre-Application Meeting 5 months prior
Permit Submittal* 4 months prior
Permit Approval 1 month prior

* Assumes USACE General or Nationwide Permit.

Local ordinances should also be reviewed to ensure that all water resource-related requirements are being met. For example, some cities have wetland buffer setbacks that must be incorporated into the project design.

With proper planning, the wetland permitting process can be smooth and transparent. A little work in the beginning to identify the potential for wetlands can save the project manager from redesign and time delays that derail project progress.

Construction Materials Testing – Why it matters.


The materials that are used to build roads and buildings are a vital part of every project. You can’t build a car without all the right parts or make a cake without all the specified ingredients. The final product of a project, whether it be a highway, bridge, or apartment building, is only as good as the quality of materials incorporated. Construction materials specifications become incredibly important when design plans are being developed. When a developer, city, county or the department of transportation sets their project specifications, they do so with longevity and the project’s life expectancy in mind.

Why do we test?

We begin testing at the beginning of a project, and in some cases before, to establish a foundation for success. Both vertical and horizontal construction require material testing and inspections. In both types of development, confirming materials are aligned with the original design helps prevent potential legal claims, safety issues and catastrophic events. It’s why we test materials both in the field and in a lab. Our  lab allows us to test construction materials and assure that the materials have been processed, tested, and reported following applicable standards and specifications. Both field and laboratory testing are critical to ensuring the safety and viability of the materials.

What does the future of materials testing look like?

Like many other areas of construction, technology is changing the construction materials industry and they’re not as far off as some may think. A recent blog discusses new materials on the horizon that could revolutionize the industry. Sustainable material substitutes are being introduced like recycled and pollution-absorbing bricks, translucent wood, and light generating cement. These new materials are results of aggressive and intense research and development. Although not widely used today, these changes will make material testing even more important as we begin to see the next evolution of building materials used in our everyday infrastructure.

Learn more about our construction and material testing services.

We’re on fire | WSB a 2019 Hot Firm

WSB was recently named a 2019 Hot Firm by the Zweig Group for the sixth consecutive year. The list honors the fastest growing firms in the AEC industry in the U.S. and Canada.  Firms are ranked based on three-year growth in revenue.

The Zweig Group is the leading research, publishing, and advisory services resource for firms in the AEC industry.  The Zweig Group’s awards programs recognize and celebrate top AEC industry firms in several categories.  Winners will be recognized at the 2019 Elevate AEC Conference in October.

See the complete list of Hot Firm winners.