Opportunity plus field work training

Opportunity+ welcomes fourth cohort into free civil engineering career training program 

January 25, 2023

The targeted workforce training and development program aims to diversify the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) Industry. 

Design and consulting firm WSB today announced that the company has launched its fourth Opportunity+ cohort. Opportunity+ is a workforce training and development program designed to prepare participants for long-term careers in the civil engineering industry. The program, first launched in January 2020, is a free and fast-paced training course led by experts from throughout the AEC industry. This year’s cohort has 17 participants enrolled.  

From January through March, program participants will receive accelerated training through evening sessions. The flexible schedule allows participants to continue working during the day while completing the hands-on program. Upon completion of the program, participants will be prepared for careers as engineering technicians, survey crew members, construction materials technicians and site inspectors – all high-demand positions in civil engineering.  

“This is our largest cohort to date, and I’m thrilled that we’re making real progress in building opportunities for all people interested in civil engineering.”

Bret Weiss, WSB President and CEO

“This is our largest cohort to date, and I’m thrilled that we’re making real progress in building opportunities for all people interested in civil engineering,” said Bret Weiss, WSB’s president and CEO. “We are committed to actionable change and to diversifying our industry. While many companies have a focus on diversity and inclusion, we’re creating real opportunity and it’s been incredibly rewarding to watch our participants build their careers both inside the walls of WSB and with our partners.” 

In 2023, Opportunity+ expanded recruitment efforts into the veteran community with 56% of this year’s cohort identifying as veterans. The veteran community is another untapped talent market with a diverse population. Many veterans have skills that lend themselves well to civil engineering careers.  

New this year is the addition of Opportunity+ hiring partners including Frattalone Companies, a construction firm specializing in civil site construction, James R. Hill, Inc., a full-service land development consulting firm, GeoWall Designs LLC, a retaining wall design company and Westwood Professional Services, a multi-disciplined land surveying and engineering company.  Expanding and growing the program outside of WSB has been a long-term goal.  In its fourth year, the program’s curriculum was at a place where it made sense to expand its reach across the industry to broaden hiring options for participants.  

“Joining Opportunity+ as a hiring partner made complete sense,” said Nick Frattalone, Frattalone Companies’ Chief Executive Officer. “In today’s labor market, finding skilled workers is a challenge across our industry. The types of skills that are learned through the program are not only relevant to supporting our business operations, but also represent our commitment to diversity and inclusion efforts.” 

Since the program’s inception, 17 participants have graduated. Opportunity+ was built to provide a pathway into the AEC industry for those that are generally underrepresented in it, specifically women and people of color. The intent of the program is to reduce and remove some of the barriers to a successful career in civil engineering.  

“The current demand for civil engineering technicians far exceeds the available talent, and many qualified candidates don’t have the time or resources to complete formal education in this field,” said Julie Thiel, WSB’s vice president of human resources. “This year, we expanded our recruiting efforts and felt strongly about welcoming more partners into the fold. Building a more diverse workforce is not just one firm’s responsibility, but rather our entire industry’s and I’m looking forward to the future of this fast-growing program.” 

Opportunity+ officially launched on January 24. The intent is to connect every cohort participant interested in pursuing a career in the industry to full-time positions following the program. They will be invited to interview for open positions with WSB and its hiring partners that can lead to greater responsibility and lifelong careers. 

The American Public Works Association – Minnesota Chapter Announces Monica Heil as Chapter President

The American Public Works Association – Minnesota Chapter (APWA-MN) recently announced that Monica Heil, WSB’s Vice President of Municipal Services, will serve as chapter President beginning in January 2023.

For the past 12+ years, Monica has been actively involved with the APWA-MN Chapter serving as the Director-Consultant (2018-2019), Chair of the Education & Training Committee (2014-2020), Chair of the Chapter’s Underground Utilities Construction Inspector School (UUCIS) Subcommittee (2012-2019), and a member of the 2016 PWX Technical Tour Planning Committee (2015-2016).  Monica served as the Secretary/Treasurer of APWA-MN in 2021 and served as the Vice President and Co-Chair of the APWA-MN Conference Planning Committee in 2022. 

“I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve as the 2023 President of APWA-MN.  It’s an honor to be part of a profession that works tirelessly to maintain the quality of life for residents across the State of Minnesota,” said Heil. “I look forward to continued opportunities to support those who operate, improve and maintain public works and infrastructure.”

Heil brings nearly 20 years of experience serving Minnesota communities. In her role at WSB, she leads the delivery of Municipal Services in the Upper Midwest market, developing technical expertise, improving project management processes and creating efficiency among teams.

Formed in 1946, APWA-MN currently includes over 1,000 public works professionals throughout the state of Minnesota. Members represent both the public and private industry and all work together to advance the public works profession. The chapter’s mission is to advance the theory and practice of the design, construction, maintenance, administration, and operation of public works facilities and services. Learn more here: American Public Works Association – MN Chapter :: Who We Are (apwa-mn.org)

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WSB Announces Jake Newhall Promotion to Director of Water Resources

November 28, 2022

Jake Newhall

WSB, a Twin Cities-based design and consulting firm specializing in engineering, community planning, environmental, and construction services announced Jake Newhall’s promotion to director of water resources

As director, Newhall will assume day-to-day operations of the water resources group as well as focus on strategy, business development, and setting operational goals with company leadership.

“We continue to see an increased need for robust water resources services in the communities we support,” said Andi Moffatt, WSB’s vice president of environmental services. “Expanding our water resources leadership and focusing responsibilities ensures our team is positioned to deliver exceptional services for our clients. I have no doubt that Jake will thrive in this leadership role and will continue to help our team develop and drive our business forward.”

Throughout his tenure at WSB, Newhall has been instrumental in shaping the growth of WSB’s water resources team. His well-rounded skills and experience have allowed him to solve some of the firm’s clients most complex stormwater management challenges.

“I am proud that I have the opportunity to grow my career at WSB,” said Newhall. “For more than 16 years, I have worked at WSB with a focus on solving complex stormwater and water resource related problems. I look forward to serving in this new leadership position, advancing strategic initiatives to expand our firm and delivering unparalleled results for our clients.”

WSB’s water resources services balance engineering, ecosystems and social impacts to create sustainable water infrastructure.  The firm offers services in stormwater, floodplain management, lake and stream habitat restoration, water quality monitoring and more. Additional information about WSB and its services are available at wsbeng.com

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WSB ranks #46 on the Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal’s Fast 50 list

October 28, 2022

On Thursday, October 27, the Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal (MSPBJ) announced their 2022 Fast 50 List, an exclusive ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in the Twin Cities. Landing at #46, this marks the second year that WSB was included on the list with a revenue growth of 29.86%. In 2021, WSB ranked #47.

The Fast 50 awards recognize the region’s 50 fastest-growing, privately held, for profit companies. To be eligible for the Fast 50, companies must show year-over-year revenue growth for each of the past three completed fiscal years, be headquartered in the Twin Cities 24-county metro area and have revenue of at least $1 million in the first fiscal year.

WSB attends 2022 Fast 50

Read our Fast 50 Profile.

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Engineering and Consulting Firm WSB Announces New Director of Human Resources

October 26, 2022

WSB, a Twin Cities-based design and consulting firm specializing in engineering, community planning, environmental, and construction services announced the hiring of Sarah Rohne as its new director of human resources. 

Rohne will be supporting human resource needs throughout the company. In addition to her role as a HR Business Partner, Rohne will also focus on talent development, employee engagement, and strategic HR initiatives. She joins WSB from Schwan’s Company, where she most recently served as their senior human resource manager of talent pipeline and development. 

“WSB is an amazing organization with a team of incredibly talented people,” said Rohne. “It is my job to act as a supportive resource, connector, innovator, educator, and talent developer for staff so we can successfully drive business forward. I look forward to strengthening our HR team, managing our day-to-day operations, and advancing strategic initiatives to help our firm grow in size, scope, and tap into new markets and opportunities.”

As director, Rohne will help organize and oversee HR practices at WSB. She has received multiple leadership and recognition awards and has published impressive legal articles throughout her 15-year career in the HR industry.

“Sarah will be an amazing asset to our human resources team, as well as to staff and leadership across our organization,” said Julie Thiel, vice president of human resources at WSB. “She brings passion, expertise, and meaningful insights on how to foster and develop talent. We are thrilled to have her on the WSB team and know she will be valuable in advancing internal initiatives.”

More information about WSB and its services are available at wsbeng.com.

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WSB hires Jessica Karls as Director of Transportation Design

October 25, 2022

Karls will focus on driving growth for the firm’s transportation services in North Dakota.

Engineering and consulting firm WSB announced today that Jessica Karls has joined the organization as their director of transportation design. Karls will be based in the firm’s Fargo office where she will focus on driving growth and expanding the firm’s reach across North Dakota. Karls will also act as senior project manager for WSB’s large-scale transportation infrastructure projects throughout the U.S.

The strategic hiring of Karls represents WSB’s investment in the Fargo metro area. The director role will strengthen and expand the firm’s transportation services and solutions throughout the Midwest. For years, WSB has been delivering engineering services in and around the North Dakota region, but the addition of Karls forms a stronger presence of boots on the ground, local expertise in the area. WSB has prioritized building their transportation team in North Dakota over the past year.

“Through our commitment to innovation and cutting-edge technology, WSB has the unique opportunity to support infrastructure projects in North Dakota in a more efficient and effective way than in the past,” said Wieber. “We’re continuing to make investments and the addition of Jessica will build our momentum. Her experience expanding into new markets and geographies and her strategic approach to project management and client service will be invaluable to our clients both in North Dakota and throughout the Midwest.”

Karls was most recently the associate vice president of transportation – senior project manager at KLJ, a Bismarck-headquartered civil engineering firm. She was named a Top 25 Women in Business in 2022 by the Prairie Business Journal and has managed some of North Dakota’s largest infrastructure projects including the U.S. 85 four-lane expansion from Long X to County Route 30, the U.S. 84 four-lane expansion south of Watford City, and the New Town Bypass.

“The opportunity to grow and support transportation locally, while also having the full backing of a multi-disciplinary firm is something that attracted me to WSB,” said Karls. “Joining a firm that is not only committed to exceptional client service, but one that is also leading the industry in the way we deliver projects is something I’m looking forward to being part of.”

WSB first entered the Fargo market in 2017. The firm is expanding throughout North Dakota and currently has an office in Bismarck and will open an expanded office in the Fargo metro in early 2023.

Top 500 Design Firms

WSB hires Ryan Earp to lead the firm’s public engagement efforts

October 18, 2022

As director, Earp will work across divisions and regions to support client public engagement needs

Ryan Earp

Engineering and consulting firm WSB announced today that Ryan Earp has joined the organization as their director of public engagement. Earp will oversee WSB’s public engagement team and will help advance the firm’s service offering and overall approach to public engagement.

Earp’s tenure providing stakeholder engagement in the energy market has shaped his understanding of the need for a wholistic approach to communications. He will work across service areas to provide a comprehensive public engagement foundation that ensures clients are effectively managing stakeholders, risk and communications.  

“The demand for intentional and strategic public engagement is growing, especially in the architecture, engineering and construction industry,” said Ben Maurer, vice president of marketing and communications at WSB. “Increasing transparency and listening to the community are important aspects of any major infrastructure projects across the U.S. As a trained communicator, Ryan will bring a lot of value to our clients.”

Earp was most recently with Environmental Resources Management (ERM), a multinational consultancy firm that provides environmental, health, safety, risk and social consulting services. In his role as a Principal Consultant, Ryan managed long-term public engagement strategic communications campaigns for clients in a variety of markets including energy, infrastructure and asset management.

“At WSB, we have the unique opportunity to engage with the public on projects that shape our communities and our way of life,” said Earp. “I look forward to developing a shared model of public engagement that positions our clients and their projects for success.”

WSB’s public engagement services support the government, energy and commercial markets and offer comprehensive, intentional and strategic communications and engagement planning through both traditional and digital tactics.

WSB is 27

A Message from our CEO on our 27th Anniversary

In honor of WSB’s 27th year in business, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on our past and share a few thoughts.  

Top: Bret Weiss, Bernie Middlestadt, Pete Willenbring | Bottom: Don Sterna, Ron Bray

In October 1995, the founders of WSB made the decision to form a new type of engineering firm. It is funny that 27 years seems like a long time ago, but also seems like just yesterday that we walked into our first office with a vision of what could be. Over the course of our journey, the number of staff, clients and partners that inspired, encouraged, and challenged us over the years are too many to mention. Throughout the almost three decades of WSB, we’ve learned, changed, adapted and advanced. This takes courage and conviction from so many.   

I’m often looking forward, but on this day I reflect on the past. Today, we focus on the successes and joys and celebrate our anniversary as a company. Building strong relationships with our colleagues helps us get through the trying times and work through challenges to better serve our clients. I am grateful for our talented team at WSB who seize opportunities to advance ideas and help us lead the industry.  

From left: Bret Weiss, Ron Bray, Pete Willenbring

Together with our clients, we have the unique opportunity to shape the future. We’re grateful for the partners we’ve had throughout our tenure, both the clients we’ve had from the very beginning and the ones that are new to WSB.  It’s through these partnerships that we’re able to work together to solve the infrastructure challenges of our communities. I believe that if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together!  

On behalf of all of us at WSB, thank you for taking this journey with us over the last 27 years. We are incredibly proud and thankful.  

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WSB announces addition of subsurface utility engineering service, hires Marc Bellapianta to lead efforts

As subsurface utility engineering manager, Marc Bellapianta will lead and oversee efforts of the SUE service area.

The demand for SUE has grown in recent years and has become a requirement in the development of highway projects across the U.S. SUE reduces conflicts by identifying subsurface utility information and is used by owners and contractors to increase safety and accuracy both during and after construction. The service area will offer comprehensive SUE investigation including the most in-depth level of investigation (Level A) through superficial investigation (Level D).  Through these services, clients will benefit from maximized cost savings, mitigated risk and efficiencies in project timelines.

“The SUE process has become a vital part of the preliminary engineering process for many reasons,” said Bellapianta. “Through SUE, unnecessary utility relocations are avoided, unexpected conflicts with utilities are eliminated and safety is significantly enhanced. WSB is a leader in their commitment to advanced project delivery and I look forward to creating a positive impact through my role for both clients and the community.”

As manager, Bellapianta will oversee WSB’s SUE service area. He has over 20 years of experience working for utility, engineering and consulting firms, overseeing SUE project delivery. Prior to joining WSB, Bellapianta worked for Survwest LLC as senior SUE project manager. In his new role, he will support WSB clients to provide comprehensive underground utility information and identification. 

“The development of a wide-ranging SUE program at WSB will benefit our clients and projects enormously,” said Kyle Klasen, vice president of survey and digital delivery at WSB. “There are many opportunities to provide SUE as a service not just in Colorado, but throughout the country. This is a growing industry that will be essential to engineering projects well into the future. We are thrilled to welcome Marc and his expertise to our team to lead these efforts.”

WSB supports clients in the government, commercial and energy markets with their infrastructure needs. Bellapianta joins the firm’s construction division. The division provides many services including alternative project delivery, design-build, survey, pavement management and contractor modeling services throughout the country.

TH 169 Visualization

WSB Named Finalist for the 2022 Going Digital Awards in Infrastructure

WSB was named a finalist in the Enterprise Engineering category for Bentley System’s 2022 Going Digital Awards in Infrastructure. The projects nominated for the Going Digital Awards in Infrastructure are judged by an independent panel of jurors, using criteria specific to each category. The finalists demonstrate excellence and digital advancements in their respective award category.  Bentley Systems is a software development company that develops, manufactures, licenses, sells and supports computer software and services for the design, construction, and operation of infrastructure.

The Enterprise Engineering category recognizes organizations that have demonstrated excellence and innovation in digital collaboration, information management, information mobility, or content management through implementing digital workflows for improved outcomes on a specific design project(s) or broadly across the organization.

The Project

As part of the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s (MnDOT’s) TH 169: Redefine Elk River initiative to support the roadway’s lifecycle management and long-term maintenance, the project team  wanted to share complex 3D model information between design, construction, and asset management teams. The team faced challenges updating the design model with the construction data, as well as integrating the information with asset management systems. They needed an open digital platform to integrate all data without losing valuable information.

Leveraging Bentley’s solutions WSB imported the data from MnDOT and other asset management systems into the design models and integrated them with the construction process data. Bentley applications reduced costs and resource hours while delivering the as-built model. The proof of concept demonstrates the value of a digital twin, providing teal-time insight on the performance of 12 MnDOT asset classes for easier lifecycle maintenance and saving millions on project scoping assignments by identifying asset needs.

Check out the full list of finalists here: 2022 Going Digital Awards Finalists | Bentley Systems