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USC’s Distinguished Civil Engineer Alumni

| December 15, 2017

The winners of the 2017 Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Alumni Awards

The winners of the 2017 Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Alumni Awards with Department Chair Lucio Soibelman. From left to right: John Cruikshank, Lucio Soibelman, Kyle Burnham, Doug Thiessen, Stephen Schrank and Janelle Lau. Photo/Kaela Berry

The Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering held their annual Alumni Awards on November 29.

With over 70 people in attendance at the Jonathan Club in Los Angeles, California, Lucio Soibelman, Department Chair and Dean’s Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, handed out the following awards to esteemed alumni.

Lifetime Achievement Award:

Stephen Schrank, BS Civil Engineering ’69, MBA ‘74

For his breadth of contribution to the engineering community, Stephen Schrank was selected as the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. After earning a Juris Doctorate degree from Southwestern University School of Law in 1977, Schrank worked for several development companies including The Santa Margarita Company, where he served as senior vice president, and Rancho Mission Viejo as the executive vice president. He was responsible for the planning, entitlement, government relations, infrastructure development, community development, marketing and construction of large-scale, master planned development projects. In retirement, Schrank continues to work as an executive development advisor of large-scale communities in the western U.S.

Distinguished Alumni Award:

The Distinguished Alumni Award was given to two individuals, John Cruikshank and Doug Thiessen, for their leadership, achievements and societal impact.

John Cruikshank, BS Building Science ’88, MS Engineering Management ‘94

John Cruikshank is president and CEO of two Southern California engineering firms, JMC2 Civil Engineering + Surveying and Ken Okamoto & Associates. In addition to having almost 30 years of experience in civil engineering, Cruikshank is a board member and past president of the Harbor Association of Industry and Commerce, a former board member of the International Trade Education Program and past chair of the Banning High School PATHS Academy Board of Advisors. He was recently named a fellow with the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and was elected to serve on the City of Rancho Palos Verdes City Council beginning on December 5, 2017.

Doug Thiessen, BS Civil Engineering ‘83

Doug Thiessen has over 34 years of professional experiencing in the planning, design and support of port development projects in Southern California. After working for 15 years at the Port of Los Angles and managing their special projects, he joined the Long Beach Harbor Department in 2000 where he acted as chief harbor engineer on the Port of Long Beach Mega Terminal Improvement Program and project sponsor on the Port of Long Beach Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Program. In February 2017, Thiessen retired from his position as managing director of engineering services for the Port of Long Beach.

Junior Alumni Award:

Kyle Burnham, BS Civil Engineering ’10, MS Civil Engineering ‘11

Kyle Burnham was selected as the winner of the Junior Alumni Award for his personal achievements in the industry. As a project manager at Swinerton Builders, he has managed a variety of complex construction projects including dormitory towers at UCLA, the redevelopment and retrofit of the historic Jordan High School Campus in Watts, California, and construction of a 288-guest room hotel in San Gabriel, California. Burnham is a licensed civil engineer in the state of California, and holds accreditations from the U.S. Green Building Council and the Design Build Institute of America. At USC, he serves as an alumni advisor to the USC student chapter of the Construction Management Association of America.

Service Award:

Janelle Lau, BS Civil Engineering ‘94

Based on her contributions and presence in the community, Janelle Lau was selected as this years’ Service Award winner. While studying at USC, Lau was a member of the Structural Engineering Association of Southern California and the national engineering honor society, Tau Beta Pi. Upon graduation, she began working at David C. Weiss, SE & Associates, where she continues to serve as project manager and coastal engineer. Recently, she opened her own coastal and residential engineering company, Moana Engineering. In addition, for the past 10 years, Lau has served as president of the alumni group, David M. Wilson Affiliates.

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