The A/E/C industry is full of a wide variety of jobs and career paths for employees. Some stick to only one while others have found much success by being versatile in their craft. Anthony Weber isn't relegated to one job description and finds himself wearing many hats on all his projects at LiRo. He recognizes that future success is hinged on mastering an environment that is foreign to him and shows no signs of slowing down.
Some of the most noteworthy projects Anthony has worked on at LiRo include the highly publicized reconstruction of the City of Long Beach's Boardwalk. Superstorm Sandy inflicted severe damage upon the decking, substructure, ramps and lighting along the 2.2 mile long, 50 ft wide boardwalk. LiRo, working closely with the City, fast-tracked the damage assessment, scope development and design for the restoration and provided construction management and inspection services for the project. He also was heavily involved on the NYSDOT Route 112 reconstruction, Long Island Expressway to Route 25 project. This project involved preparation of the design report/ environmental assessment for the construction of improvements to a three and a half mile section of Route 112. Currently, he is leading the work on another Superstorm Sandy related project, NYCHA's Coney Island Housing. LiRo is working with NYCHA to restore and enhance the mechanical and electrical infrastructure for this development by raising all critical electrical and mechanical equipment above the designated FEMA flood elevation, providing standby generators for 100% backup power, hardening the buildings' exterior envelopes to prevent the influx of future storm surges and providing new roofing for all five buildings.
During the days and weeks immediately after Superstorm Sandy, NYCHA engaged LiRo's services to prepare assessment reports that documented the extent of damage at each of the Coney Island Developments impacted by the storm surge. You are currently in charge of all the structural design work for these 16 developments. What was most challenging when working on this new design?
This design gave me a chance to really expand my knowledge and understating of building design. Much of the structural design projects that LiRo has worked on have been of a smaller magnitude. But the Coney Island Houses project was challenging as it involved the design of a new multi-purpose/Boiler Plant Building. This gave me the opportunity to complete every structural design aspect of this steel framed building, from its 'green roof', down to its concrete foundation. It was challenging to complete while also having to simultaneously design rooftop generators' steel dunnage, flood barrier systems, retaining walls and canopy structures, as this project encompassed a little bit of everything.
With rapid changes occurring daily on some projects, adaptability is a critical quality for employees working on these jobs. Your balance of calm and quick flexibility enables you to accept new roles when presented on these projects. Have you always been comfortable stepping outside your comfort zone?
It's not always easy for me to step outside of my comfort zone. With new roles there is always the possibility of failure and/or not performing to expectations. But out of all the lessons I have learned while working at LiRo, the most important one has been knowing that there is always support from your coworkers. I cannot express enough gratitude to the work environment that I have been surrounded by. The people I have been privileged enough to work with have always been supportive and immensely helpful. It's for this reason that it became easy for me to take on new roles and step out of my comfort zone because I know if I ever hit a roadblock there is always someone to help get me back on track.
When working on natural disaster related projects, such as Long Beach Boardwalk Reconstruction or Coney Island Housing, there is little time for organization and planning. How do you handle these intense work situations to help bring calm to the storm?
Coordination is key to completing any project, but its importance is no more evident than during the demanding and limited schedule of a natural disaster relief project. Not all infrastructures are capable of withstanding the damage of natural disasters, so when an event occurs an entire community is affected. But with constant coordination the project objectives are constantly being communicated during design and planning. This enables the engineer to quickly adapt to the ever changing project needs, which is ultimately to not just reconstruct but improve on the previous design so that the infrastructure can withstand a future natural disaster, while all doing this in a timely fashion to meet the project schedule and helping a community return to normalcy.
Do you have any advice to engineers looking to breathe new life into his or her role?
Within all aspects of daily life, from work to personal, things can seem to become a little repetitive and unchallenging, but I have found that being a 'Yes Man' has brought new life into my role as an engineer. At the start of my career, by constantly agreeing to take on a new project regardless of having had past design experience in the area, I have now become experienced in all aspects of Civil Engineering, from traffic, structural, geotechnical and roadway design. As a result, every project is rewarding from start to finish as the type of work is ever changing and evolving, so my advice would be to say 'yes' to new roles as with more diversified experience comes greater fulfillment.
What do you think embodies a 'versatile engineer'?
A versatile engineer is an individual that sees no limitations to expanding their knowledge in all facets of engineering. Whether it is expanding on their current knowledge in their area of expertise or challenging themselves with learning a completely new concept within engineering. At the end of the day, our project is a success only if as the engineer we have done everything we could to meet all design expectations of the project we are working on.
What project have you worked on that you're most proud of?
I find that I am most proud of projects that have a substantial effect on a community, as it promotes both a functional and desirable use of space in their everyday lives. Nothing is truer than The City of Long Beach Boardwalk Reconstruction Project. Designing the replacement of this iconic Boardwalk after it was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy was very rewarding. I constantly come across people that have nothing but positive things to say about the Boardwalk reconstruction project. The impact that this project had on the City is immeasurable and therefore gives me the most pride.
Anthony has provided a wide variety of services to numerous high-profile engineering projects since joining LiRo in 2007 after graduating from Hofstra University. His areas of expertise include the planning and design of highway improvements and roadway reconstruction, site development design, drainage design, surveying, utility coordination, geotechnical engineering, traffic engineering. His design work has included buildings, bridges, bulkhead/ earth retention systems, and industrial access platforms. Anthony has recently been working on the Build-it-Back program in Brooklyn, where he represents LiRo as their Professional Engineer supervising all house lifting operations. His technical software capabilities include AutoCAD, AutoTURN, STAAD, Synchro, Highway Capacity Software (HCS2000), MicroStation, InRoads and Visual Analysis. His diverse project experience and high level skill set enables him to proactively anticipate problems and formulate solutions in an expedient manner. Anthony is a Professional Engineer in New York and is also LEED AP BD+C licensed.