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Member Spotlight: Bobby Giese, P.E.

Member Spotlight – Bobby Giese, P.E., Project Manager, Natural Gas at RK&K

As he dug into the rigors of managing his first major capital project (a four-mile, multi-million-dollar gas pipeline in Odenton), Bobby Giese, P.E. “felt like someone kicked me into the deep end of the pool.”

Giese, a graduate of the University of Maryland with a mechanical engineering degree, had spent the previous six years working on environmental management, gas regulatory compliance and integrity/safety initiatives for the natural gas system at BGE. Eager to get some “pure engineering experience” before taking his PE exam, Giese accepted an opportunity to serve as Lead Responsible Engineer (LRE) for BGE major capital gas projects and began work on the Odenton project.

“The first day that I went out into the field, I had drawings in hand, but I didn’t know entirely what I was looking at,” he said. “My notepad was jotted with a bunch of acronyms and terms that I was hearing but felt too stupid to ask what they meant.”

Instead, Giese avidly Googled terms, asked strings of questions in the privacy of his boss’s office and researched countless technical issues that had to be addressed, such as material specifications, construction procedures and sequencing, final design details, contract submittals, manufacturing site inspections and project team collaboration.

It was a challenge that he adored.

“Project engineering was definitely my favorite thing during my 14 years at BGE,” he said.

The Odenton project culminated with an intensive, five-month build in 2016 which included tasks such as welding together a 1,300-foot length of steel pipe, setting up a massive drill rig and threading the pipe beneath a state highway.

“It was amazing to see a project that I was involved with so closely for so long finally get pulled off,” Giese said. The Odenton pipeline “became just part of the thousands of miles of pipeline that BGE has in service, but it’s my baby.”

Since that project, Giese has managed numerous other gas system upgrades and expansions, including the rebuild of one of the largest pipeline stations connecting BGE to the interstate pipeline system.

“When you have millions of cubic feet of gas per hour flowing through a facility, that represents a massive financial transaction so you are talking about systems that need to be very precise and heavily monitored such as control room and telemetry systems,” he said.

As Supervisor of Gas Design for BGE, Giese oversaw a team of 11 designers and numerous contractors as they completed infrastructure replacements through the Maryland STRIDE Program.

“BGE is the oldest gas utility in the United States. With that comes the most aged infrastructure you can think of. We are talking about pre-1900 gas mains that are made out of cast iron and there are hundreds of miles of it,” he said.

STRIDE’s goal to replace about 50 miles of gas main annually requires project teams to complete renovations in tight urban neighborhoods where a few miles of pipeline could impact 700 households and work around site conditions such as “the underground jungle of other utilities” that frequently presents surprises like a six-foot storm drain where it wasn’t expected.

Now a Natural Gas Project Manager with RK&K, Giese continues to handle a variety of design and construction challenges such as a current project in Cecil County where a major mining operation is converting from propane to gas. Supporting that conversion will require design and construction teams to thread about two miles of gas pipeline through an area where a new I-95 interchange is planned as well as realignment of county roads.

A new member of the MDSPE board, Giese is eager to grow the chapter’s membership and its roster of corporate partners.

Reviewing the lists of members and partners “really boggled my mind because I know 10 or more engineering firms that I worked with in my career at BGE that have a strong presence in Maryland but almost zero involvement with MDSPE,” he said.

Giese, however, sees involvement in the society as greatly important to developing a professional network, staying abreast of industry trends and developments, fostering camaraderie among engineering firms that are often competitors and advocating for professional engineers.

“My primary interest is in the profession of engineering,” said Giese, who previously served on a Public Service Commission working group that updated standards for professional engineers. “I feel MDSPE is in a good position to advocate for professional engineers and use our resources collectively at meaningful levels to accomplish things, like amending legislation in Annapolis.”

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