DENVER – The American Council of Engineering Companies of Colorado (ACEC/CO) recently presented top engineering awards to outstanding Colorado engineers who have demonstrated exemplary leadership and commitment to advancing consulting engineering.
Karen Maestas, P.E., URS Corporation, was honored as the 2014 Outstanding Woman in Engineering. The prestigious award recognizes an outstanding woman in a leadership position for professional achievements in the engineering profession and who is a visible role model for young engineers.
Maestas manages a complex portfolio of mine reclamation projects that has grown annually from approximately $500,000 in 2007 to more than $8 million in 2013. These projects involve a myriad of state and federal requirements and a host of technical and implementation challenges. Using her expert technical abilities, management and communication skills, and thorough understanding of business operations, she leads a large, diverse technical team that provides a wide range of turnkey services for these multi-state mine sites. Her ability to lead multiple, concurrent and interconnected technical projects and to communicate effectively about complex technical subjects in a way that is accessible to the public are hallmarks of her career.
Looking to the future, under her leadership URS has been working with a university to test a biological treatment method to address elevated sulfate levels present in acid rock drainage at a mine site. Maestas’ team is also experimenting with spent brewer’s grain, ordinarily a waste product of beer brewing, as a carbon source, which is a promising “green” alternative for mine water cleanup. As an active community member, she also promotes math and science education through speaking engagements to students at elementary schools to higher education.
“It is such an honor to be recognized as outstanding in my profession,” said Maestas. “Solving problems is something I love to do, and throughout my career, I have certainly dealt with many challenging situations. Being involved in successful environmental cleanups is one of the most gratifying parts of my job. It’s amazing to see technology in action.
“I’ve had great mentors over the years, both men and women. When I graduated from college more than 20 years ago, about one in five engineers was a woman, and that has not really changed much in the last two decades. I encourage more women to pursue careers in engineering and science – it is great work that is challenging, interesting and rewarding,” she emphasized.
Maestas earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Geological Engineering from Colorado School of Mines in 1991 and her Master of Science in Civil Engineering from University of Colorado at Denver in 2001.
Additionally, Charles Keyes, P.E., Martine/Martin, Inc., recipient of the Council’s George Washington Award, which is presented to an ACEC/CO member who has provided outstanding service to the community, contributed to the progress of Colorado and the advancement of the public image of the consulting engineering profession. Dan Phipps, P.E., Kennedy/Jenks Consultants, was honored as ACEC ‘s 2014 Young Professional in Engineering, which promotes the accomplishments of young engineers who are advancing the consulting engineering profession.
The American Council of Engineering Companies of Colorado (ACEC/CO) is the business association of 235 member firms employing more than 10,000 employees in the independent private practice of consulting engineering. ACEC/CO is a primary resource for accessing engineering information, expertise and business ethics practices. The Council provides leadership and direction by developing practical, feasible options and solutions based upon technical collaboration to achieve enduring outcomes to benefit society.