Across DPR Blog

October 30, 2014

Teams Showcase Creativity, Teamwork in Annual Leap Sandcastle Contest

Demonstrating their creativity, teamwork, competitive nature and penchant for fun, hundreds of Bay Area school children, contractors, architects and engineers descended on San Francisco’s Ocean Beach Oct. 11 for Leap’s 31st Annual Sandcastle contest. Leap works with Bay Area public schools to provide arts education programs.

DPR participated on two of the 30 teams in this year’s competition. The contest joins A/E/C professionals with students from throughout the region to raise significant money  – more than $300,000 this year alone.

The theme for 2014, “Food, Glorious Food,” inspired an array of unique creations that transformed a wide stretch of beachfront for the day.

Brad Griffith, project engineer for the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital project, spearheaded the efforts of the DPR team that included volunteers from Stantec and around 50 fourth graders from Central Elementary School in Belmont, Calif. Planning for their project began several weeks ahead with visits to the school. Their creative vision: a pizza sitting next to a spilled beverage.

“We took the opportunity to tie in what we’re doing throughout this (sandcastle build) process and relating it to how we as architect, engineers and contractors build and design on a daily basis,” Griffith said. “The ultimate goal was just to get them excited about learning. Tying their school curriculum and construction and the sand castle build all together was huge.”

Brittany Gilroy and Andrea Walker helped lead the second team, which partnered with Gensler and Ulloa Elementary School for the twelfth year in a row. Planning began three weeks prior, when Gensler and DPR representatives began weekly visits to the school. They led the students in brainstorming and sketching their ideas and developed a model to follow on competition day. Their creation: a “wiener” dog in a hot dog bun, being walked by bottles of ketchup and mustard.

About 15 students and a dozen volunteers from DPR and Gensler teamed for the big day, and the excitement in the air was palpable. “When the buzzer first sounded, the children were really excited,” Gilroy said. “It was great to see everyone kind of dive in.”

Teamwork was the essential ingredient to pull it together, according to Walker. “At one point we had a chain of children in the sand passing water from the ocean. It took a lot of teamwork, and really got everyone involved.”

October 28, 2014

So Cal Community Champion Honored By NAWBO-OC For Leadership

Having the opportunity to put your professional skills to work helping others is one of the many perks of working for DPR. Being recognized by a major business organization for the impact you’re making, well that’s just icing on the cake.

DPR’s Melissa King was honored by the National Association of Women Business Owners, Orange County (NAWBO-OC) on Oct. 16 at their annual Remarkable Women Awards Gala. King was nominated by Girls Inc., a DPR Foundation-supported organization, where she serves in a leadership role for Women for Girls (a Girls Inc. support organization), and as a hands-on volunteer since 2011.

Melissa King, from DPR's So Cal office, shown here with her mother Jeanne Bargman, volunteers with Girls Inc. more than 100 hours annually and has arranged cash and service contributions to the organization of nearly $300,000 since 2011.

Girls Inc. nominated King for the honor, citing her increasing personal involvement as well as her ability to bring DPR’s resources – financial, volunteers and industry relationships – to make an even greater impact.

“Melissa is ensuring that 5,000 girls in our community become strong, smart and bold,” said Orleda Azevedo, Director of Volunteer Services for Girls Inc., in the nomination form. “Melissa is a true role model not only for girls but for our staff and volunteers as well.”

October 21, 2014

Opening the World of Possibilities Through Seven Tepees Career Day

Providing young people with a window into the “real world” of work and showcasing the many, diverse career paths they can pursue were key goals of DPR’s recent Seven Tepees career day in San Francisco.

Photo courtesy Kedyn Sierra

The fourth annual Career Day brought together nearly a dozen high school youth and Seven Tepees staff members with several DPR employees. Throughout the day, employees shared their personal journeys that led them into their careers with DPR.

Steven Grandin, DPR’s Seven Tepees liaison and incoming president of its board of directors, spearheaded the event. It began with a tour of Autodesk’s offices at One Market Street (built out by DPR with Gensler Architects), where students had the opportunity to learn about 3D imaging, 3D printing and graphics development. They went on to visit a DPR jobsite at Pier 9 where they talked with project engineer Dylan Swallow and superintendent John Bloomfield. Next, they headed over to DPR’s San Francisco offices where they learned about the intricacies of creating a net zero building, LEED building practices and 3D modeling, and other things.

Photo courtesy Kedyn Sierra

Throughout the day DPR employees spoke with the youth about how they got to where they are in their careers. In some cases, those employees’ journeys and the challenges they had faced were similar to challenges confronting the Seven Tepees students.

One of the participating students, high school junior Kedyn Sierra, has been part of Seven Tepees for the past five years and plans to intern with DPR next summer.

“Having now been on two career days with DPR, I can attest that these experiences offer a sense of what the “real-world” is going to be like,” Sierra said. “Seven Tepees has brought me a new way of viewing my future. Beginning when I was in the sixth grade, this organization has helped me step out of my comfort zone in many ways that include immersive leading experiences. Personally, being exposed to the outdoors is what I’ve taken to heart from this program, because I do not have access to such locations in my everyday life.”

Seven Tepees high school program coordinator Ashley Allen was a participant in Seven Tepees as a youth, and then returned to the organization as a staff member after finishing college. 

“I am 100 percent a product of the many benefits of being in this exceptional program, from my knowledge and respect of the environment to my passion to giving back to the community,” Allen said. She received her degree in community studies from UC Santa Cruz with a minor in sociology. “I believe in life journeys coming full circle and wanted to commit myself to a space that was truly impactful to me,” Allen said.

The career day achieved its objective to expose the youth to possible careers and spark their interest in planning for their future, according to DPR’s Grandin.

“My main goal is teaching the youth about maintaining options,” he said. “The best plans don’t always work out, so you should have a backup. This day introduces them not only to construction, but encourages them to look at careers in whatever they want to pursue.”

Photo courtesy Kedyn Sierra

October 15, 2014

Mentors Participate in ACE All Schools Day

On October 11th, Southern California DPR employees participated in the ACE Mentor Program's All Schools Day, a competition for all Los Angeles and Orange County schools that participate in ACE. DPR employees across the country volunteer their time for the program, which brings together architecture, engineering and construction professionals with high school students in a formal extracurricular enrichment program. 

The DPR mentors, who work with Century High School students in Santa Ana, were Brennan Cooke, Brandon Fullam and Ocean Van. Ron Rendina also participated with the Pasadena team. Josh DeStefano and Alison Lind also mentor at Century High, but could not attend this event.

The challenge was to build a cantilevered platform from popsicle sticks, pasta and hot glue within a two-hour time frame. Mentors could help with design, but not build. Each school was judged on load the platform could carry, efficiency and overall performance. 

L to R: Brandon Fullam, Ron Rendina, Brennan Cooke, and Ocean Van.

October 7, 2014

Big Business Tools + Small Business Know-How

(On Friday, October 3 DPR's West Palm Beach office kicked off the first of a three-part Contracting Series at Palm Beach State College’s Boca Raton campus. The series is geared toward emerging contractors searching for new opportunities to grow their business. Part one focused on valuable tips, tools and resources to assist subcontractors in generating new revenue streams.  DPR’s overall objective is to help Palm Beach Stage College’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) provide a valuable educational series from the commercial contractor’s perspective.

Attendees gained insight on how to market and grow their business, with first hand feedback from what customers expect before working with a new firm in the Construction and Engineering arena.  Debbie Lanford, the International Trade Specialist at the FSBDC at Palm Beach State College, commented ,“The presentation was one of the best I have seen.  Relevant, informative and engaging.”

For DPR this is an opportunity to get involved in the community and seek out qualified Small Business Enterprises (SBE’s) and to help Palm Beach State College SBDC fulfill their mission “To impact the small business community with world-class quality services that make a measurable contribution to regional economic growth and prosperity.”

Series #2 will be held November 7th and targeted towards small businesses that have been up and running for at least one year and are looking to establish relationships with the right resources (CPA, legal counsel, bonding, insurance, and banking) to grow their business.

Series #3 will be held December 5th and will focus on retaining talent and managing business growth. Topics covered will focus on HR, company policies and retention.

(L to R) DPR's Krista Luther, Mouji Linarez Castillo, Adrian Barrios

October 6, 2014

Whitepaper Watch: Getting the Most Out of BIM

When VDC apps are used correctly, project teams have the opportunity to improve productivity, reduce rework in the field, enhance building documentation, and feed into management systems that can result in lower long-term facility operating costs.

In light of these potential benefits, it can be tempting to think of software as a “silver bullet” to the solution to the many complex hurdles that project teams face. But even the very best software is simply a tool and is only useful if the person (or team) who wields it, does so effectively.

In a new DPR white paper, “Getting the Most Out of BIM: The Secret Guide to VDC Apps,” DPR’s Andrew Fisher addresses those issues and more. The educational guide for owners and users describes what major apps can do and which ones currently lead the market in six functional areas: BIM authoring, coordination, visualization, analysis and measurement, sequencing and estimating. 

For coordination, Autodesk Navisworks Manage stands out for its clash detection capabilities, while Autodesk BIM 360 Glue is also gaining popularity. Tapping into the power of the “cloud” to access the model, BIM 360 Glue works with iPads in the field.

For other BIM functions, some of the top applications include Lumion 3D for visualization, Solibri Model Checker for analysis and measurement, Synchro for sequencing, and Vico for estimating, to name just a few.

Understanding how to select and fully utilize the best BIM tools to their potential can create the most direct benefits to a project team’s processes, productivity and overall performance on a job.

The whitepaper was highlighted in the latest edition of the DPR Review, and can be viewed in full here.

September 29, 2014

Digital Project Resonates with Technology-Driven Owner

Digital projects are a growing trend around the country, and recently DPR completed its first in Florida. The 80,000-sq.-ft. headquarters for Carley Corporation, a training and technology solutions company, is owned by SWAMP 1. The project was completely digitally managed, saving the owner time and money despite the challenging, swampy Florida terrain.

The team primarily collaborated through the cloud, which also facilitated digital turnover and archiving, and used BIM 360 Glue on iPads in the field, laser scanning, and digital lean tools such as Last Planner. 

“When DPR said they were going to run this whole job electronically, I thought, a lot of companies say that; they don’t really do it,” Carley’s Chief Information Officer Jeremy Good said. “But in this case, it was true.”

See the full story on the SWAMP 1 project in the latest edition of the DPR Review.

September 29, 2014

Routine Maintenance Makes Big Impact On Organization

On Sept. 26 about a dozen DPR employees volunteered their time performing routine maintenance on a villa at the Give Kids the World complex in Orlando, Fla. While the work may have been ordinary, the cause that it supports is anything but.

The biannual workday was part of DPR’s regularly scheduled upkeep of two DPR-sponsored. Give Kids the World is a nonprofit organization that has fulfilled the wishes of more than 130,000 children from around the world since it began by offering all-expense-paid vacations for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. They are provided five star treatment including lodging, entrance to Disneyworld and other area attractions and additional amenities. The goal is to provide an experience that allows the children and their families to focus on creating memories and just having fun.

Employees in Florida have supported the organization for nearly a decade. Their involvement has included building two villas at the Florida development, financial support and regular maintenance of the two DPR-sponsored villas. DPR volunteers also decorate the villas for special holidays.

DPR Orlando employee Chris Bell has been involved for many of those years and coordinated the recent local workday that brought DPR volunteers in to perform deep cleaning, lawn work and light maintenance of one of the villas.

“It’s just doing good work for a great organization,” he commented, noting that at different times many local employees have participated in volunteering with the nonprofit organization that is making a big difference for youngsters with terminal illnesses. “People enjoy the chance to be part of doing something that has a positive impact.”

September 22, 2014

Insights on Total Cost of Ownership

How can BIM help reduce operations and maintenance costs? What data yields the biggest results? Why isn't it being captured? What is "total cost of ownership" (TCO) anyway? 

DPR's Director of Consulting Andrew Arnold answers all these questions in a Q&A for the latest edition of the DPR Review. In the article, Andrew explains that the cost of designing and constructing a building is only 10 percent of the cost over the lifecycle of the building. The operation cost, which includes regular service and preventive maintenance for building systems, ongoing repairs, consumables and energy consumption, is 90 percent. This is why owners are realizing the importance of designing for TCO–often, investing a little more up front in a better building will mean savings over the long term.

Andrew highlights the value that building information modeling (BIM) can provide to operations and maintenance teams. When the right BIM data flows easily to operations teams, they can manage a building more efficiently and effectively. 

Read Andrew's entire Q&A here.

September 22, 2014

Supporting Young Women On The Path To College And Professional Careers With Girls Inc.

High school senior Arelly Ocampo from Costa Mesa, Calif., had the opportunity to immerse herself in the DPR culture this summer while working as a Girls Inc. extern in the Newport Beach office. It was an experience that she describes as both positive and “a real eye opener.”

Girls Inc. extern Arelly Ocampo works with a DPR estimator to learn how to read drawings.

“As a senior going off to college next year, I was able to get an idea of what to look for in a college, especially as a civil engineering major,” Ocampo said. “I enjoyed the collaboration all the externs had with each other and the DPR employees and valued how open everyone was to answer any questions I had. I realized that people at DPR have passion and pride in what they do, which is why they love talking about their jobs.”

Ocampo worked directly with DPR’s Melissa King, who said hosting a summer extern from Girls Inc. for the second year turned out to be a win-win for all involved.

“I was so impressed with what she could do, how quickly she could do it and how much initiative she took,” King commented. Ocampo worked with King to develop training materials and plan group meetings. She also attended in-house training classes and project engineer meetings and made numerous jobsite visits.

Ocampo attended a regional project engineer meeting, where she learned how to frame door openings.

On Aug. 11, the last day of Ocampo’s externship, DPR hosted a two-hour resume workshop that brought together all 50 of the Girls Inc. externs at their Youth & Family Center. The goal: to help the girls put their summer externship experiences onto their resumes.

Approximately 10 DPR volunteers participated in the workshop, leading small group sessions. Externs and leaders shared personal stories and gave feedback. Ocampo helped create a facilitator guide for DPR volunteers involved in the resume workshop and developed training slides for the session.

Neiasha Russell, Community Development Coordinator with Girls Inc. of Orange County, commended DPR’s work on the resume workshop, its externship participation and its longtime commitment to the organization.

“The overall response to the resume workshop was the information presented was valuable. The girls really enjoyed the breakout session with the volunteers. This gave them a chance to hear personal stories and ask questions,” she said.

“DPR has had a huge impact on the Girls Inc.’s Externship Program,” Russell added. “I couldn’t ask for a more supportive, vibrant and involved externship site!”

Ocampo attended the annual Girls Inc. Youth Empowerment and Self Sufficiency luncheon (Y.E.S.S) with her DPR hosts.