2023 Innovation Award Winners Honored During CEC’s Annual Meeting

February 14, 2024

Each year since 2014, CEC has honored individuals or groups of individuals who turn their innovative ideas into measurable value for CEC and our clients. The individual or group receives a trophy and a $5,000 cash prize.

The award was developed with two equally important objectives in mind:

  • Identify and recognize excellence in developing new or enhanced services or new approaches that improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our services (both external and internal); and
  • Invest in knowledge sharing of those innovations.

This year, 26 nominations were received, nearly doubling the nominations from a year ago. Thirty-four employees from across nearly all CEC title groups were nominated, with some individuals nominated more than once. Among those nominations, 12 offices/corporate groups and 7 practices were represented.

The nominations were screened and scored by the Selection Committee consisting of Michael J. Sheleheda, P.E., Chief Technical Officer, Vice President of Operations; Janette L. Wolf, P.E., CPESC, CPSWQ, CESSWI, Principal; and Thomas A. Buck, P.E., Project Manager III.

The submissions were reviewed based on the submittal information presented, and eight semi-finalists were selected. The semi-finalists were then further screened and subjected to an evaluation process that considers external and internal clients served, system efficiencies, and service offerings. Four winning innovations were selected and honored during CEC’s Annual Meeting. Congratulations to them all!

The 2023 Innovation Award winners are Matt Kramer, Don Bronchik,
Anthony Syers, and Sophia Adcock.

Their “outside the box” ideas are summarized below.


Sophia Adcock, P.E. — Project Manager I, Columbus

Automating CAD with Dynamo

Sophia took the initiative and the knowledge gleaned during an Autodesk University session to lead the charge in the automation of design tasks. She combined the power of two programs — Dynamo and Python — to help increase efficiency and accuracy in civil/site design. Dynamo allows users to directly input Python code into the program and creates scripts that are used in Civil 3D.

“I’m eager to collaborate with others and explore new ideas for incorporating this tool, including creating new scripts to automate simple tasks and expedite our workflow. Together, we can enhance efficiency and productivity in our work,” Sophia said.


Don Bronchik — CADD Manager, Columbus

Differential TIN Volumes for Developing Subgrade Surfaces

Don expanded the traditional usage of TIN surfacing to assist in one of CEC’s largest projects on a 600-acre site plan. This technique can be used not only for determining subgrade, but also for creating sub-surface strata such as top of rock or coal or similar surfaces. The final grade surface contains thousands of feature lines for the modeling of final grade.

The aim was to come up with a method where, as the final grade was changing, the subgrade would change along with it. Since there are multiple material thicknesses on the project, each area was assigned its depth in feet, rather than an elevation. “We saved hundreds of hours of creating a separate grading file for the subgrade, which can lead to errors and rework, especially on a project this size,” Don said.


Matt Kramer — Corporate Geospatial Systems Administrator, Columbus

ArcGIS Pro Figure and Database Automation

Initial assessment, due diligence, and preliminary engineering tasks make up a significant portion of CEC project tasks. The deliverables for these tasks are generally standardized, typically through CEC quality policies and standards or by government/jurisdictional regulators. Even though each site is different and presents its own set of challenges, the workflow to create an initial deliverable is generally consistent.

“Ninety percent of the tasks are the same, 10 percent are not, and those required minor fixes can lead to major problems,” Matt said. This automation ensures all the properties are consistently set properly, which also makes cross-collaboration much easier.


Anthony Syers, P.S. — Vice President, Indianapolis

Surveying Bracket for Verticality Assessments

With an assist from his teen son, Beau, Anthony created a 3D-printed bracket to verify the plumbness of a client’s massive racking system. Traditional scanning was not the best option, as the client required a variance of only 5/8-inch across the full height of the 120-foot-high structure.

Contained within the plastic bracket were magnets to allow for proper placement along the racks by the “climbers,” who were not CEC employees due to the sheer height of the structure. This simple bracket, a jig of sorts, ensured accurate measurements. “This gave us exactly what the client needed.”


About the Author

CEC Staff

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc. (CEC) provides comprehensive market-oriented consulting services to advance client strategic business objectives. CEC is recognized for delivering innovative design solutions and integrated expertise in air quality, civil engineering, ecological sciences, environmental engineering and sciences, manufacturing infrastructure services, survey/geospatial, waste management, and water resources.

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