The decision to pursue a career in the sciences was never a question for Courtney Johnson, Senior Geologist at SAGE Engineers. What was in question, however, was what path to pursue. That all changed for her when the 2001 Nisqually earthquake occurred in western Washington. Sitting in her dorm room, bearing witness to the movement occurring around her, Courtney’s path to becoming a geologist was sealed. “I always loved the outdoors, so I knew I wanted to work outside, but my curiosity in geological reconnaissance, earthquakes and the effects of natural disasters became my passion back when I was an undergraduate in college.”
Curious about the potential for earthquakes in Placer County? You’re not alone. This week, the Placer Gold Sons in Retirement invited SAGE’s Vice President and Principal Geologist, Drew Kennedy, to talk about earthquakes and earthquake preparedness in Placer County. Drew is always looking for ways to involve and educate the larger community in the work we do here at SAGE, and this event gave him the opportunity to discuss local seismic hazards including the primary faults impacting the foothills of Placer County and the Lake Tahoe area.
Geotechnical engineer Matt Weil finds one of the very best ways to continue his education in engineering is to teach. “For me, as an engineering student, being an intern was the best way to learn. Realizing not everyone can intern, I enjoy opportunities to help emerging professionals connect the concepts they’re learning to what it’s like working as an engineering consultant,” says Matt.
Last night, Matt connected with engineering students from the UC Davis chapter of the civil engineering honor society, Chi Epsilon, to discuss practical applications for geological and civil engineering concepts. Next week, Matt is headed to the Capay Valley where he will join industry professionals at the annual H. Ray Taber Foundation’s Annual Drill Seminar.
Capturing and holding the attention of a classroom full of 5th grade students is no easy task. Yet that’s precisely what three engineers from SAGE were able to do.
Earlier this week engineers Dan Jenkins, Bryan Perrin, and Stacy Vorster demonstrated how an engineer’s job can involve more than working behind a desk designing things. By showcasing SAGE’s Rope Access service, curious minded students had the opportunity to participate in a hands-on Science, Technology, and Math (STEM) activity as part of Sacramento’s STARBASE program. After learning how to tie proper knots, examining the safety gear, and looking at spectacular images of professionals working on steep slopes, students took the reins and posed questions to the engineers. For the record, no, these three engineers do not sleep at the office, wake up, and begin working.
Once a month, we at SAGE like to blow off a little steam and have some team building fun. We affectionately call it SAGE Break. Today, teams comprised of 4-5 people raced to complete the Marshmallow Challenge by building a structure using only 20 sticks of spaghetti, 1 yard of tape, 1 yard of string, and 1 marshmallow.
With an office full of mostly engineers and geologists, teams built some incredibly creative and resilient designs that held up. And although it wasn’t part of the challenge, some structures even withstood strong ground motions.
Undeniably deserving of this distinguished award, the ASDSO Advisory Committee recently honored Dr. Faiz Makdisi, PhD, PE, D.GE, with the Danny McCook Medal for his lifetime achievements in the field of geotechnical engineering and dam safety.
Dr. Makdisi has committed his career to advancing the state of the geotechnical dam safety practice. His landmark paper, which he and Professor H.B. Seed at the University of California, Berkeley completed in 1978, was groundbreaking research. “Makdisi and Seed” advanced one’s understanding and ability to analyze the response and behavior of earth fill dams subjected to strong earthquake shaking. Nearly four decades later it is still considered a “must-read” for young geotechnical engineers. Dr. Makdisi has continued to advance practitioner’s understanding of liquefaction and seismically induced deformations of earth dams through his work on the bounding surface hypoplasticy model, which is now included in the commercially available program FLAC.
Witnessing reports of the devastation and suffering caused by Hurricane Harvey can make one feel powerless to help. SAGE Engineers is proud to support the Red Cross and the Greater Houston Community Foundation Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund with a financial donation via ASCE. We are encouraging our employees and colleagues to give as well. Through ASCE you can donate relief funds and help support the long process of healing and rebuilding.
As an inspiring leader, Ms. Murphy has a passion for helping clients, colleagues, and junior staff understand and mitigate earthquake related risks. She demonstrates this passion through her multi-faceted approach to project work combining her deep understanding of probabilistic seismic hazard and geotechnical engineering to communicate complex aspects of risk and risk reduction to a wide range of audiences. Ms. Murphy is as comfortable discussing uncertainty in ground motions in an academic setting as she is troubleshooting a drill rig set up to obtain accurate blow counts for a liquefaction evaluation.
Proud to be doing our part to keep California’s critical infrastructure secure and operational, SAGE engineers and geologists are fanned out across Northern California assisting our clients who have experienced storm-related damage.