Our 2013 Young Engineer Winners Picked from different Professional Societies


Brett Pope

Brett Pope joined Terracon Consultants, Inc. in 2008 in the geotechnical department. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in Texas. His four plus years of geotechnical engineering experience includes a wide variety of transportation, public infrastructure, commercial, and residential projects.
Brett has been an active member of ASCE for four years. Brett currently serves as the Houston Branch V.P. Education and the Texas Section First Year Director at Large. He has previously served the Houston Branch as Secretary, Branch Director, and Younger Member Chair and the Texas Section as Younger Member Chair.
Brett graduated with a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech in 2008 and an M.C.E. in Civil Engineering at the University of Houston in 2011. Brett's hobbies include running marathons and watching college football.


Vishal H. Merchant

The American Society of Indian Engineers has selected Vishal H. Merchant, P.E. as Young Engineer of the Year for 2013. Vishal is a Project Manager at Aguirre & Fields, LP, Sugarland, TX. He received his education at Mumbai University, India earning a Bachelor's degree in Engineering in 2003 and a Master's degree in Civil Engineering at Lamar University, Beaumont, TX in 2006. At Aguirre & Fields, Vishal performs design of municipal and private land development plans for residential, commercial, and industrial development as well as for low impact development projects.
In 2012, Vishal worked on several noteworthy projects in the Greater Houston Area. He served as Project Manager on Caroline St improvements project in the mid-town area of the City of Houston. He also served as Project Engineer for Houston Independent School Districts, Dogan Scott Elementary School and Almeda Elementary School. Currently, Vishal is working on the design of Schlumberger's Office facility in Midland, Texas.
Vishal is a life member of the American Society of Indian Engineers, has served on the Board for three terms and is currently the president-elect for the organization. Vishal is also involved with other organizations such as APWA, ASCE, AAEA and ACEC - Houston's contract committee.


Akshat Agarwal

Akshat Agarwal is a drilling and completions project consultant at T H Hill Associates Inc. (THH), based in northwest Houston. In his current role, he manages multiple complex projects for top oil and gas clients in failure analysis and design of drill string components. In the past year, he led a team in Thailand to streamline a VMI (Vendor Managed Inventory) system for an Oil and Gas Major. In his short 4 year tenure at THH, he also co-authored the Fourth Edition of global drilling standard, DS-1, with input and sponsorship from over 40 global oil and gas companies.
Akshat received his Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from the National Institute of Technology Jalandhar in 2007. He attained a Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 2008. While at Florida, he became an active member of the ASME student chapter and took on a leadership role in the University of Florida Libraries Committee. In 2007, Akshat received the Achievement Award from University of Florida for his outstanding academic record and performance.
Since moving to Houston to work for THH in 2009, Akshat has been an active member of Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) and Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME). He also holds an Engineer-in-Training (EIT) certification from the State of Texas.
Akshat has been actively involved in the events of the ASME South Texas Section (STS). In 2010, he initiated assisting the Board and was nominated as the Arrangements Chair in 2011. As the Arrangements Chair, Akshat helped to innovate and organize a series of successful monthly events for ASME STS. In recognition of his services to ASME STS, he was awarded the J. George H. Thompson Award in 2012.
Akshat is an avid follower of all sports around the world. He is well travelled and enjoys most adventure sports.


James C. Jones

James C. Jones graduated from Texas A&M in 2005 and has worked for Jones & Carter Inc. in a variety of offices and positions. He has worked across the state in J&C's Austin, Dallas, and Houston offices as well as internationally on projects in Libya. Mr. Jones is currently the Division Manager for J&C's Municipal Division for our Houston Metropolitan Public Works Practice. Mr. Jones manages several engineers and CAD operators and coordinates the design efforts for the group. Mr. Jones is principally engaged in large diameter water transmission system design, water distribution system modeling, and utility rehabilitation. Mr. Jones currently serves as the president for the Southeast Chapter of the Texas American Water Works Association (AWWA). He is also a member of the Advisory Council for the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University. He is also actively involved in the Gatekeepers Committee for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.



Winner description



Winner description


Johan Petterson

The Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) Houston Post selected Johan Petterson, E.I.T., CFM as the 2013 Young Member of the Year. Johan holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Tecnologico de Monterrey (2009). He is an Engineer-in-Training (EIT) and a Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM) for the State of Texas. He has been an active member in SAME for two-plus years, and currently serves as the Assistant Secretary for the Houston Post. Johan joined Dannenbaum in 2009 as a member of the Hydrology and Hydraulics (H&H) group. In early 2013, he transferred to the Special Projects Division, where he focuses on Storm Water Quality, Coastal Marine Infrastructure, Geospatial Technology, and Federal Services.


Valerie Martone

The Society of Petroleum Engineers Gulf Coast Section (SPE GCS) has selected Valerie Walker Martone as the 2013 Young Engineer of the Year. Valerie currently is a Senior Upstream Operations Engineer at Anadarko Petroleum Corporation for the Mozambique LNG project, Anadarko's largest natural gas discovery to date. Previously, she worked in the deep water Gulf of Mexico division as a Senior Production Engineer for the Independence Hub, Neptune, Blind Faith and Pompano assets. In 2011, Valerie was presented Anadarko's Innovators Award for developing a new procedure saving millions of dollars in potential lost production. Previously, Valerie worked at BHP Billiton where she helped found their Young Professionals Group while working on the Shenzi, Atlantis, Neptune, and Mad Dog deep water Gulf of Mexico assets in the facilities, production and reservoir engineering disciplines.
Valerie served on the Projects Construction and Facilities Study Group Committee where she helped implement the successful Expanding Facilities Knowledge Workshop series. She was an Ambassador Lecturer at Rice, University of Houston, and Texas A&M Kingsville and also interviewed potential scholarship recipients. In 2008, Valerie was selected to be on SPE GCS Young Professionals Board where she co-chaired the Emerging Engineers Conference. In 2009, Valerie received the SPE GCS Young Member Outstanding Service Award. She then served on the SPE GCS Board of Directors as Director-at-Large, and subsequently as Communications Chair. Valerie graduated from Texas A&M University in 2004 with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering with numerous honors while being active in her sorority, Kappa Delta. Valerie enjoys painting, playing her violin in the church orchestra, Aggie sporting events, swimming, traveling, reading and spending time with her family.


Jennifer Sanders

Jennifer Sanders works for Enterprise Products as a Liquid Balancing Supervisor. She is a hard working and dedicated employee, supervisor, SWE member, wife and mom. She works very hard to contribute the best work to any task. At work Jennifer strives to give her employees the tools they need to do their job and provide them the advice they need to move along their career path. She is also involved in the hiring process with in her department. Several new employees have joined the team as new assets are added and are needing to be balanced.
She enjoys mentoring and sharing the skills she learned while volunteering with SWE at a variety of different forums. She has coached collegiate members by visiting schools to present SWE modules on leadership as a member of the Collegiate Leadership Committee. Furthermore, Jennifer has strengths in conference planning. While serving as president of the Lamar University section, she also chaired the Region C conference. After graduation, Jennifer co-chaired a Professional Development Conference with the SWE Houston Area section. Nationally, she has served as Volunteer Coordinator for the 2012 SWE National Conference that was in Houston, Texas. In this role, she has able to showcase Enterprise Products as a key supporter of diversity in engineering through their sponsorship of the Speaker Ready Room.


Brad Hibbetts

R. Brad Hibbetts is an employee of Huitt-Zollars, since 2009, where he manages the Houston office Facilities Design Group.
He has 10 years of engineering design and project management experience across a wide variety of building types including public works facilities such as the City of Houston's LEED Certified Fleet Maintenance Facilities, the City of Pearland's award winning Traffic Operation Center and the City of Webster's new Fire Station
He is a licensed Professional Engineer in Texas and New Mexico, is a LEED Accredited Professional, and a member of APWA, SAME and the HESS club. He has a degree in electrical engineering from The University of Texas at Austin
Brad is a native of the Houston area, a past president of his Houston Home Owners Association, Thornwood, a Life Bible Study teacher at Houston's First Baptist Church, and lead the HZ Houston office's 2012 Canstruction team which won an honorable mention award.
Brad has been married to his wife Elizabeth for 8 years and he has two children Allison (6) and Will (3)


Elizabeth Shelton

Elizabeth Shelton, P.E. has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from Iowa State University and is a licensed Professional Engineer in the state of Texas. She works at Klotz Associates as a Project Engineer in the Traffic and ITS Department. Her 6 years of engineering experience includes a wide variety of traffic and transportation engineering projects including operations, traffic impact analysis, signal warrants, access management studies, and design plan development.
Elizabeth has been actively involved in TexITE for several years. She currently serves on TexITE Greater Houston Chapter as lead of the Welcoming Committee and on the Shrimp Boil Committee which plans and manages the annual fundraiser for the organization.


Megan Siercks

Megan Siercks, P.E., PTP is a traffic engineer who has been with Walter P Moore for the past six years. Megan's engineering experience includes a variety of traffic projects including master planning, traffic signal design, traffic impact analysis, access management, and simulation modeling. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Texas A&M University and a Masters of Civil Engineering from the University of Houston. She is licensed professional engineer in the State of Texas and holds a professional transportation planner certification.
Megan is actively involved in the Texas Society of Professional Engineers, serving on the golf tournament committee, membership committee, and scholarship committee; chairing the younger members committee; volunteering with Mathcounts; and chairing the communications committee that coordinated the rollout of a new website for the Greater Houston Chapter. Megan enjoys traveling with her husband and operating a home bakery business when time permits. She also volunteers at the Houston Food Bank, participates in events like Canstruction, Houston Heart Walk, and a neighborhood welcoming committee.

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