Inspiring Women in Civil Infrastructure

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By Rita Bachkhanji

International Women’s Day 2021 

For International Women’s Day, we highlight impressive women who for decades have left their mark on numerous ambitious and innovative civil infrastructure projects. As the AEC industry evolves, along with the advances in the technology supporting it, it is leaders and innovators such as these women who will build a better world. 

Digitalizing the future of rail

Proudly recognizing Dr. Sonia Zahiroddiny, Head of Digital Engineering at High Speed Two (HS2), United Kingdom

She always knew she wanted to apply the principles of artificial intelligence and computer science to everyday business to make it more effective. As Head of Digital Engineering at High Speed Two (HS2), Dr. Sonia Zahiroddiny can do exactly that for the rail and construction industries. Dr. Zahiroddiny integrates her background in computer and information science with on-the-ground experience in BIM as well as research and data analysis to improve the digitalization of rail. Dr. Zahiroddiny says she’s determined to improve associated infrastructure through standardization, collaboration and better use of technology. This includes the use of digital twins to optimize processes and advanced technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT). The Future of Rail, she believes, will see more use of advanced data analytics. 

“We’ll start to see an uptick of Big Data platforms and IoT. We’ll understand how to install smart devices into physical assets to drive value from infrastructure and unlock cost savings through better use of data,” Dr. Zahiroddiny says. “[We’ll use things like] analytics, machine learning to understand these patterns and inform decision-making,” 

View the insights of Dr. Zahiroddiny and fellow industry experts on what the future of rail looks like. 

Spearheading complex infrastructure projects

Proudly recognizing Kjersti Kvalheim Dunham, Project Director at Norconsult, Norway 

Kjersti Kvalheim Dunham is Project Director at construction engineering company Norconsult in Norway. She and her colleagues are tasked with the details of the country’s most important infrastructure projects, related to coastal Route E39: creating a new four-lane highway for a 15-mile stretch of the Coastal Highway project. The tremendous scope of the $490 million construction project required Kvalheim Dunham and her team to manage Level 3 BIM across all aspects, while initiating research into new materials and new ways of constructing complex structures across large stretches of water. 

Complex technical challenges included submerged floating tunnels and bridges such as the Trysfjord Bridge, the world’s largest, balanced concrete cantilever bridge of its kind.  

“To enable our client to build faster, reduce cost and build with less climate impact, we needed to change the standard delivery to realize digitalization and reduce environmental impact,” Kvalheim Dunham says, “We believe we managed to achieve a great combination of the two.” 

View how Kvalheim Dunham and her team are working towards results like meeting a 20% reduction in carbon emissions.  

Learn more about the project here.

Leading rapid-crisis response

Proudly recognizing Julie Nicholson, BIM Manager at Arcadis 

When a harmful algal bloom threatened the drinking water supply for the city of Toledo in 2014, Ohio, city authorities called on engineering firm Arcadis to help restore a vital necessity, updating the water treatment plant.

Using cloud collaboration tools for all the design work over the years – starting with the emergency algal bloom project, adding basins 7 and 8, upgrading to newer technology on basins 1-6, and adding ozone and GAC filter improvements – enabled Arcadis to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Julie Nicholson spun into action as the BIM manager on the project from the start. A strong advocate for BIM, Nicholson says that the concept “stronger together” has really proven itself for bringing every essential stakeholder together collaboratively and instantaneously in the cloud for rapid response. She has worked in the water and wastewater environmental consulting division at Arcadis for over 28 years and proudly uses a variety of BIM techniques with her teams to save design hours, reduce risk and improve overall project delivery results. In 2016, Nicholson spearheaded the award-winning Design-Build project of the year and won a National Award of Excellence as lead BIM Manager for the Carlsbad Desalination plant in Carlsbad, California. 

View how Nicholson and her team’s commitment to the digital transformation journey of Arcadis enabled them to rapidly deliver on the City of Toledo Collins Park Water Treatment Plant project. 

Learn more about the project here.

Using BIM for modernizing infrastructure  

Proudly recognizing Clara Arnould, Project Manager at Vinci Autoroutes, France 

When 1970s road construction could not readily be modified for today’s needs, Clara Arnould, Project Manager at Vinci Autoroutes, knew she and her team would have to lean on BIM to reimagine and reconfigure infrastructure. “We launched BIM with the objective of better understanding and managing infrastructure assets,” says Arnould of the A10 project in Orleans, France, which expanded the three-lane highway to four. 

Among the many challenges Arnould and her colleagues faced: how to reconfigure a key junction while taking space constraints into consideration. BIM helped with technical studies and a better understanding of existing constraints while also opening the team to various other project configurations.  

See how their work in a shared data environment enabled the use of digital technologies in collaborative and efficient ways.  

Advocating for BIM  

Proudly recognizing Stacey Morykin, Engineering Technology Manager at Gannett Fleming, USA 

Gannett Fleming Engineering Technology Manager Stacey Morykin champions the effective use of innovative technologies and application of building information modeling (BIM) practices throughout all project phases. She recognizes BIM and technology as enablers of reducing waste and increasing project value. Morykin is firmly entrenched in all aspects of the trade: she has worked with small and large engineering firms in Pennsylvania, fostered the redevelopment of an Autodesk user group within Philadelphia, and teaches engineering graphics to students at Northampton Community College. Morykin’s hands-on lab for using Dynamo for Civil 3D won her a designation as “Top Speaker” at Autodesk University 2019. 

View Morykin as she joins industry peers at Autodesk University 2020 to share how they’re driving digital transformation with better project management and collaboration. 

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