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Andrew Brown, P.E., Site/Civil Project Manager, ATCS, P.L.C.

Andrew Brown, PEAndrew Brown vividly remembers watching the drama of the Apollo 13 mission unfold on a movie screen.

Two days into its mission, a routine tirring of an oxygen tank ignited damaged wire insulation and triggered an explosion that vented a signifcant portion of the rocket’s oxygen supply into space. The crew was forced to abort plans to land on the moon and NASA Mission Control in Houston had to rapidly develop new plans to bring the damaged craft safely home.

“I will never forget seeing the engineers trying to figure out how to save the mission. I thought that was so great that I would love to put my brain to use solving problems and helping other people,” Brown said.

As a student at Virginia Tech, Brown decided to specialize in civil engineering.

“I really enjoyed the tangible nature of civil engineering and the fact that it is everywhere around us – in buildings, roads, bridges, everywhere,” he said. “Civil engineering has a huge impact on our society so I find it tremendously gratifying to be contributing to projects that can improve the way people live.”

Initially employed in geo-technical engineering, “I did a lot of site inspections, a lot of boots-on-the-ground work,” he said. “It was a tough job but it was a valuable experience to see how projects were built.” Those projects ranged from airports to a firefighters’ training facility that included a building that was regularly set on fire.

Brown’s early jobs gave him experience in construction materials observation and testing, subsurface investigations and stormwater deisgn. Eventually, he began working in land development, including the planning and construction of new subdivisions, commercial properties, solar fields and assisted living facilities.

“It is very gratifying to support a client though – from their original plan to a completed project,” he said. “You also get to see your fingerprints on the local community.”

The most difficult projects require engineers to overcome challenges with site conditions, environmental regulations, road designs, utility connections and other elements.

“But the most challenging projects often become my favorites because you feel like you did your job as an engineer. You worked through the problems, made the project succeed and helped deliver something the community wanted,” Brown said.

Currently a Site/Civil Project Manager at ATCS, Brown said he is especially interested in continually improving not only his technical skills but his ability to collaborate with other people and help create dynamic, successful teams that provide supportive environments and opportunities for professional growth.

Brown receiving his P.E. certificate at the Engineers Reception & Awards Night in January 2018. Pictured left to right: David Thaler, PE, LS, F.NSPE, F.ASCE, Skip Harclerode II, P.E., Andrew Brown, P.E., Paul Shank, P.E., C.M.

That human focus has largely guided Brown’s involvement with MDSP.

“My first introduction to the society was when I got my professional engineer’s license,” he said. “This was coming from the Department of Labor so I expected it would be issued to me like a driver’s license. But instead, I was invited to the newly licensed engineers’ event and it was like a graduation. My wife was with me and it was so gratifying to stand up there and feel the pride of accomplishment.”

Encouraged by David Thaler, Brown got involved in the MDSPE mentorship program and soon volunteered to serve on the board.

The society, he noted, enables members to develop greater knowledge of legislative issues impacting professional engineers and works to support the profession through its lobbying efforts.

It also creates valuable opportunities to connect with a broad range of engineers, learn about other disciplines, build relationships throughout industry and avail of numerous mentoring and educational opportunities.

“I am hoping to renew focus on our mission and objectives,” Brown said. “Membership engagement is a big focus. We want our members to really feel the value of being part of this society. We want to continue to double down on our networking events and build the engineering community. We want to continue to up the value proposition that we are provide whether it is meaningful training, networking opportunities, legislation advocacy and, of course, continuing to host my favorite event, the newly licensed engineers’ reception.”

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