Project Lead the Way Students Shine in National Spotlight

Project Lead The Way

American Structurepoint salutes students from a Project Lead the Way class that we funded who rocked the house at a recent PLTW Summit. Students from James A. Garfield Indianapolis Public School 31 were the only elementary students in the nation chosen to share their stories of how PLTW has changed their lives. The students presented to more than 800 PreK-12th grade educators, education students, university leaders, and business and industry leaders attending the summit.

In celebration of our company’s 50th anniversary in 2016, we invested $250,000 in PLTW programming for Indianapolis Public Schools students. Since then, 50 PLTW programs have expanded or launched in IPS. Fourteen programs launched in the 2019-2020 school year, including one at School 31.

PLTW partners with more than 11,500 US schools to deliver programs in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science. The summit offered various sessions geared to help educators and community leaders better prepare students with in-demand and transferrable skills to succeed in STEM careers and in college.

“This is our first year as a Project Lead the Way school and it’s fantastic,” the four fourth-grade scholars proclaimed in unison. They shared information about the hands-on experiments they are doing to learn about different types of potential and kinetic energy. While that is impressive in its own right, I am more impressed by the life lessons PLTW has taught them.  Here are a few they shared with the crowd.

  • “PLTW has helped me be brave and given me more confidence to express my thoughts and ideas with others.”
  • “I am not afraid of failing anymore. I know I can work with my teammates to figure it out.”
  • “With all of the communicating and collaborating we do, I’ve moved outside of my comfort zone.”
  • “Before Project Lead the Way, I didn’t know what an engineer was, but now I know what I want to be when I grow up … a mechanical engineer.”

Congratulations scholars on an amazing job! See for yourselves. Please check out a rehearsal of their four-minute presentation at this Facebook link.


Walid Gemayel Leads American Structurepoint’s Ohio Team

Let me introduce Walid Gemayel, PE, senior vice president and executive leader of our Ohio team. Walid brings a wealth of expertise to our firm. He has 30 years of progressive construction and design expertise in both the public and private sectors that includes four years as a deputy director of the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Walid’s role allows him to use his know-how and technical savvy to help American Structurepoint’s Ohio clients recognize new opportunities and to assist them in tackling complex infrastructure issues. He is helping grow our Ohio staff of over 50 professionals working in our Columbus and Cincinnati offices.

When it comes to complex, large-scale projects, you’ll want Walid Gemayel on your team. He is well respected for his leadership skills and for his problem-solving abilities that bring value to the government agencies and local communities we serve. He excels at looking at the big picture. Walid’s proactive management approach brings to every project a strong ability to collaborate with clients and stakeholders to create a partnering atmosphere that fosters open communication and trust.

Walid is key in taking the entire Ohio team to the next level in delivering complex, innovative, multidiscipline work that improves the quality of life for Ohio communities. Our Ohio office has achieved steady growth since opening our doors in 1999. We’ve built a strong reputation in the transportation, surveying, investigative, civil, structural, construction solutions, and environmental services disciplines. Columbus Business First continually ranks American Structurepoint among the Top 25 Central Ohio Engineering Firms.

Under Walid’s leadership, we expect to accomplish many great things for our Ohio clients in 2018 and for many more years to come. Our staff is well equipped to spot opportunities, tackle challenges, and maximize resources. We will save you time and money. For more information on services, call 614.901.2235.

A Well-Earned Partnership: Thirst Project and American Structurepoint

One of our company’s community outreach programs of which I am most proud is our work with the Thirst Project. This nonprofit organization is the world’s leading youth water activism organization dedicated to building freshwater wells in developing nations and impoverished communities to provide people with safe, clean water.

In just nine years of existence, Thirst Project has raised $8.8 million to build 2,217 projects in 13 countries. Not only that, the organization is nearly 74 percent successful in reaching its ambitious goal of providing clean drinking water to the entire kingdom of Swaziland, located in southern Africa, by 2022.

I first learned about Thirst Project in 2011 when I met the organization’s dynamic, young CEO, Seth Maxwell, 29. Upon seeing Seth’s passion for ending the global water crisis, I knew American Structurepoint had to get involved. After all, providing safe, clean water to improve quality of life is part of our DNA.

Our $73,000 in contributions to the Thirst Project work has produced six new wells that pump clean, safe water to people in desperate need of this essential resource. We recently received a video of our latest well that provides clean water to the village of Ondiyaneni. Please consider supporting this organization in bringing clean water to those who need it most. To learn more, click here.

Supporting a Charity Bike Ride to Fight Cancer

1,600 miles. 17 days. 1 mission.

Jim Frey Bike Team Pic.jpeg

One of our clients who combines his passion for charity organizations and bike riding is at it again. Real estate developer Jim Frey and four of his friends are going on a 17-day bike ride from Minneapolis to New Orleans to raise $200,000 for the Women’s Global Cancer Alliance (WGCA), a Louisville-based organization that helps women in developing countries live healthier lives.

Jim’s team, known as the FivexFives, begin their ride on October 15. They plan to cover 95 miles a day for 17 days along the Mississippi River, concluding on Halloween. Each team member has been affected in some way by cancer through friends and relatives who serve as the inspiration for their ride.

Three years ago, Jim completed a nine-day solo bike ride benefitting WGCA that raised $80,000. Jim is excited about the 2017 trek that more than doubles the monetary goal for WGA and doubles the first ride’s distance.

“I have participated in many fundraising rides over the years, but this one is particularly close to my heart,” Jim said. “WGCA is doing great work across the world to treat and defeat cervical cancer, and I’m very proud to do something to support their cause.”

I invite you follow to Jim’s journey on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube by searching for “FivexFivesRide.” More importantly, please donate to the cause by clicking here and click on the “Donate Now” button.

Bus Rapid Transit Moving Forward in Indianapolis

Red Line Map

The arrival of a bus rapid-transit line in Indianapolis is revving closer to reality, and with it comes a long-awaited delivery of a much improved public transportation system in Indianapolis.

The Indianapolis Public Transit Corporation is now accepting bids for civil work and for station work for the much-anticipated Red Line and the 28 stations along the 13.1 mile Phase 1 route that runs from Broad Ripple southward to the University of Indianapolis. Deadline for submitting bids is November 13; contractors will be approved at a December 7 meeting; construction will begin in early 2018; and the first Red Line riders will board all-electric-powered buses in 2019.

Why bus rapid transit? Simply put, it’s a public transit solution that will significantly improve mobility for thousands of people who need to connect to where the jobs are, to where learning happens, and to more cultural and recreational opportunities.

This segment of the Red Line route will come within a quarter mile of more than 50,000 residents and nearly 150,000 jobs – a quarter of all jobs in Marion County. Once open for service, the Red Line will run 20 hours each day, seven days a week and is expected to grow daily ridership to 11,000 within a year of operation.

The Red Line will connect several neighborhoods to the state’s largest concentration of jobs (downtown Indianapolis), the state’s largest hospital system, and three higher education institutions – Ivy Tech Community College, University of Indianapolis, and IUPUI.

These are just a few benefits that the Red Line will bring. American Structurepoint is serving as the Indianapolis Department of Public Works’ technical representative. Our role is to facilitate the coordination of the project’s multiple facets, such as construction schedules and maintenance of traffic. We will work diligently to ensure that the Red Line progresses as smoothly as possible for all major stakeholders and the traveling public. As the design partner for CDM Smith, American Structurepoint also has provided traffic signal analysis and design, general roadway design, topographic survey, right of way engineering and plan development, and public involvement assistance.

We are eager for this new chapter in public transit to unfold in Marion County. I invite you to learn more by visiting a newly launched website, This will be a key site to check for detailed updates and information in the weeks and months ahead.  Once construction begins, you will be able to scroll through an interactive map to help understand impacts and restrictions along the corridor

Saluting An Indiana Surveying Legend


Tom Campbell/Purdue University

American Structurepoint sends a sincere salute to a Hoosier surveying legend who recently turned 100 years young – Indiana Department of Natural Resources Field Surveyor Bob Vollmer.

It’s safe to say that wherever Bob goes, a tripod, compass, and a Trimble S6 robotic total station are sure to follow. Vollmer, the oldest state employee in Indiana history, is an inspiring, energetic soul who still    works four days a week surveying DNR properties. The state has no mandatory retirement age, and Bob is determined to stay in the field as long as possible.

“I don’t believe in retiring,” Bob is quoted in The American Surveyor Magazine. “When you retreat, that’s when you get in trouble.”

This World War II veteran of the U.S. Navy graduated from Purdue University in 1952 with a degree in biological and agricultural engineering. He joined the state’s Division of Engineering in 1962 when the DNR was the Department of Conservation. Since then, his work has taken him to 90 of Indiana’s 92 counties – all but Dearborn and Switzerland. He’s surveyed nearly every inch of the 3,000-acre O’Bannon Woods State Park that’s nestled inside the 26,000-acre Harrison Crawford State Forest in southern Indiana.

Bob is well-respected and beloved at DNR, so much so that in December, he received the Sagamore of the Wabash Award. Later this year, the state will dedicate a plaque in Bob’s name at the Ten O’clock Line Trail in Brown County State Park.

Here’s to many more days in the field for this dedicated professional. Congratulations to Bob for reaching this incredible milestone and for a life well lived.

Drive Safely During National Work Zone Awareness Week

Drivers should always remember to be on high alert when traveling through work zones, but all too often, we know this isn’t the case. Let us all stay vigilant to ensure that National Work Zone Awareness Week from April 3 through 7 stays as accident free as possible.

This year’s theme is “Work Zone Safety Is in Your Hands.” American Structurepoint joins with the Federal Highway Administration in asking motorists to slow down in work zones, give their full attention to the work occurring around them, and to expect the unexpected.

Pay attention to the reduced speed limit in work zones. Exceeding the speed limit doesn’t buy you that much time. According to an Indiana government website, the difference between driving 65 MPH and 45 MPH through a 2-mile work zone is a minute.

According to the 2017 edition of “Injury Facts,” a chart book from the National Safety Council, 700 deaths and 35,500 injuries occurred in work zone crashes in 2015. Approximately 40,000 crashes occur in work zones every year. A vast majority of these occur because drivers are following too closely, speeding, or are inattentive.

Workers in roadway construction zones are real people with real families. The Indiana State Transportation Workers Foundation was formed in 2006 to address the real adversity these families face when a loved one is killed or disabled while working. American Structurepoint Executive Vice President and Partner Greg Henneke is the president of this 501 (c) (3) organization that strives to ensure these family members are not forgotten. In fact, the organization is taking steps to expand its reach to offer hardship funds and scholarships to these families.

It’s unsettling, but true, that work zones can become an accident scene within seconds. Please remember that, not only this week, but always.

America’s Infrastructure Grade: At Risk and Near Failing

America’s infrastructure is close to failing.

So says the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), which released its 2017 infrastructure report card earlier this month, giving the nation’s overall infrastructure a grade of D+.

Translation: Our roads, bridges, water systems, and transit systems are in pretty bad shape.

Every 4 years, ASCE provides a comprehensive assessment of the nation’s 16 major infrastructure categories, using a simple A to F school report card format. ASCE assessed the categories based on capacity, condition, funding, and public safety. Mass transit received the worst grade, a D-. Roads and airports received a D, the same mark as in 2013. Railroads earned a B, the highest grade given in the report. Wastewater and public parks and recreation received a D+; bridges and ports received a C+.

Startling statistics

Here are just a few of the eye-opening statistics uncovered in this year’s extensive report, available online.

  • More than 2 out of every 5 miles of the nation’s interstates are congested.
  • Traffic delays cost the country $160 billion in wasted fuel and time, which equates to 42 wasted hours per driver a year.
  • In 2016, 56,000 of the nation’s bridges were structurally deficient.
  • American’s water systems are leaking trillions of gallons of water a year.
  • By 2020, 24 of our 30 major airports are expected to experience Thanksgiving Day peak traffic levels at least once a week.

Hope on the horizon

President Donald Trump has pledged to seek up to $1 trillion in new programs to rebuild our infrastructure. Last November, voters approved 72 percent of the ballot measures seeking to raise taxes at the city, regional, and state levels to pay for transportation, light rail, rapid transit, bike paths, and other infrastructure improvements.

Much work needs to be done. ASCE’s report card says it will cost an estimated $4.59 trillion to get the national’s infrastructure into relatively good shape by 2025.

To those outside of our industry, it may seem self-serving for the country’s civil engineers to point out infrastructure deficiencies. We civil engineers strongly believe it’s a matter of public safety necessity and quality of life for all.

Infographic courtesy of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

American Structurepoint Among the Best Employers in Indiana and Ohio


Simply put, our staff rocks! We are thrilled and honored to see American Structurepoint included on two lists ranking the best employers in Indiana and Ohio. We are among 100 companies named to the 2017 Best Places to Work in Indiana and one of 34 companies earning a sport on the 2017 Best Employers in Ohio list.

Best Companies Group, a firm that handles the selection process, oversees similir programs in 29 states.  The lists are compiled after analyzing employer reports and comprehensive employee surveys.

All of our employees, from Indiana to Ohio and from North Carolina to Texas, pride themselves on delivering excellence, value, and exemplary customer service to our clients. As a company, we also place a high priority on improving the quality of life for our people and our communities. Making these “best-of lists” in Indiana and Ohio is a wonderful validation of their success and our staff’s satifsfaction level in serving our clients to the best of their abilities.

We will learn our final rankings on both lists in May. We do know that on the Indiana list, we are 1 of 19 honorees in the “large companies” category with 250-999 US employees. We can’t wait to find out where we place when the rankings are revealed.