Employee Spotlight: Andrew Wycklendt
APTIM spotlights Andrew Wycklendt, coastal engineer and program manager, located in Hawaiʻi.
How long have you worked for APTIM?
I’ve worked for APTIM and its legacy companies for 16 years.
What does a typical workday look like for you? Any big projects you are working on that you can tell us about?
I design and implement a variety of coastal restoration, shoreline protection, sediment management, dredging, navigation, waterfront structure, and flood mitigation projects along Atlantic, Gulf, Pacific, and Arctic coasts. For example, a partial list of projects I’ve worked on over the past year include:
- A beach restoration project in Hawaiʻi
- A rubble mound revetment (i.e. sloping rock seawall) repair project in Alaska
- A marsh creation project in Louisiana
- A boat ramp and waterfront structure (i.e. dock, gangway, fendering system, bulkhead, and groin) improvement project in Florida
- A flood insurance study for a new development in New York.
Project roles include supporting field programs and data analysis (i.e. topobathymetric and biological surveys, geophysical and geotechnical investigations, and oceanographic studies), numerical modeling, project design, permitting, bid and construction document preparation, as well as construction oversight and administration.
Generally speaking, I manage broad-based coastal engineering projects and collaboratively lead teams in the coastal project design process from conceptual design to detailed design through construction and monitoring and am responsible for scope, budget, and schedule while working in close coordination with the project team, sub-consultants, and the client. As APTIM’s Diving Safety Officer I am responsible for the conduct of our Scientific Diving Program, which includes training and certification, approval of dive plans, maintenance of diving records, and ensuring compliance with the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) standards and all relevant diving regulations to comply with OSHA regulations that exempt APTIM’s scientific divers from commercial diving regulations. I also periodically support projects in other business lines such as the review of Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) plans and the removal of above and underground storage tanks. Moreover, I participate in business development activities, write proposals, prepare and present at selection presentations, and assist with marketing strategies for general engineering services in the Hawaiʻi region and the coastal restoration service line nationally.
What do you like most about your job?
Project and role diversity is what I like most about my job. The beginning of my career focused on restoring Louisiana’s barrier islands after they were impacted by Hurricane’s Katrina and Rita and continued throughout the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response and recovery; I spent several years living on these uninhabited islands where my daily commute was a short boat ride and I learned the best friends you can make on these project sites are the boat captain and cook. After gaining considerable dredge design and construction experience, I had the opportunity to work on the North Slope of Alaska to evaluate the effectiveness of a winter dredging operation; this was a unique experience working under the northern lights in the arctic circle to evaluate ice cutting rates (using the biggest chainsaw I’ve ever seen), ice removal volumes and rates, dredging volumes and rates, spoil disposal volumes and rates, and general construction advance rates and limitations necessary to develop a dredging plan.
After gaining several years of experience designing coastal projects and using numerical models to simulate coastal processes and evaluate project performance to identify potential impacts and benefits that these projects and their associated components (structures, fill areas, borrow areas, etc.) have on the surrounding environment, I was given the opportunity to lead the numerical modeling team in the coastal restoration project design process which included developing scopes, budgets, and schedules and reviewing modeling results and reports as part of the engineering and modeling QA/QC process. After spending several years growing a professional network in Hawaiʻi, I had the opportunity to develop the statewide Small-Scale Beach Restoration program in collaboration with the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands (OCCL); specifically, I worked with various team members to prepare a comprehensive Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) to support a streamlined permitting approach that allows for the implementation of coastal erosion control projects that result in ecosystem restoration, are designed to manage erosion threats to shoreline property and infrastructure, reduce impacts associated with climate change and sea level rise, and increase overall coastal resiliency. Recently, I was given the opportunity to design and manage waterfront structure projects; this required me to expand my geotechnical and structural engineering design capabilities, become familiar with building codes, and has allowed me to develop innovative tools to efficiently evaluate structure stability using remote sensing and image processing technologies.
What do you like most about working at APTIM?
Working at APTIM there is a seemingly unlimited opportunity to grow professionally. In addition to growing my engineering and project management capabilities by supporting diverse projects across the country, I have also had the opportunity to develop high-tech remote sensing and process automation systems and tools. For example, I recently developed a work plan to remotely observe project features and construction operations in real-time, collect data using remote sensing and mobile mapping technologies, upload and process data using cloud-based tools, and complete engineering analyses and reporting using automated methods. Anticipated benefits of implementing this plan include improving data sets, reducing hours on-site, reducing time spent transferring and analyzing data, enhancing reporting consistency and efficiency, improving the ability to share construction observations, facilitating on-demand observation of project sites, reducing hazards, improving safety, and enhancing collaboration. Working on technology development projects such as this has allowed me to combine my ocean engineering robotics and control system experience gained during my undergraduate studies at Florida Atlantic University with my coastal engineering experience gained during my graduate studies at the University of Hawaiʻi and throughout the beginning of my professional career. Considering I believe the best career is the one that pulls in on all life experiences, I look forward to finding ways to blend my emergency management experience gained as a lifeguard, emergency medical technician, and firefighter with my engineering and project management experience.
What is the best career lesson you have learned so far?
The best career lesson that I’ve learned thus far is that you don’t know everything and don’t have time to do it all. This being said, it is extremely important to have access to a strong and diverse internal team and external network to fill knowledge gaps and provide the resources needed to meet project objectives and schedules. Moreover, acknowledging gaps is acceptable and appreciated, especially when you have developed a strong network and are able to confidently state that you can fill the gap after consulting with various specialists.
What inspires and motivates you?
I am motivated and inspired by everything around me, which has been a purposeful pursuit to keep me focused so that I can best contribute to society. My inspiration is constantly evolving and growing from making my parents and grandparents proud, to being a role model for my younger sister and cousins, to being a leader in high school sports, to becoming a well-rounded engineer, to chasing my dreams and facing my fears as a waterman, to becoming an inspirational and motivational figure in my community, to being the best husband and father that I can be.
What would you do for a career if you weren’t doing this?
If you asked me two months ago, I would probably say that I would be a firefighter and commercial diver if I wasn’t working as a coastal engineer. However, my thought process and desires have changed a bit since becoming a father. If I wasn’t a coastal engineer, I would still likely focus my efforts on community sustainability and resiliency. Considering food security is a real issue here in Hawaiʻi, I would likely become more involved with farming, fishing, and hunting. I would also continue supporting non-profit organizations to benefit my community. For example, considering my current role as President of the Hawaiʻi Chapter of the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association I recently had the opportunity to be a member of the North Shore Coastal Resilience Working Group that identified and explored pathways to adapt to sea level rise and improve community resiliency. Another example is working with Mālama Loko Ea Foundation to support the restoration of an ancient Hawaiian Fishpond on the North Shore of Oʻahu to improve community sustainability by providing food security.
Any interesting facts about yourself you could share with us?
While conducting one of my daily construction observations on a barrier island restoration project, I noticed a dolphin washed ashore. The dolphin’s blowhole was partially closed and its eyes were open. I immediately contacted appropriate personnel to inform them of the situation and obtain direction to respond. Considering there were no visible signs of injury, I was essentially instructed to perform dolphin CPR. Since efforts to revive the dolphin were unsuccessful, I worked with the contractor to transport the dolphin to the nearby marina where it was released to a veterinarian with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
When I’m not working, I enjoy spending time with my growing family. I’m also blessed with having one of the most beautiful playgrounds in my backyard. When I’m not working or spending time with my family, I’m either surfing, kite surfing, diving (free and SCUBA), paddling (stand-up and outrigger canoe), swimming, or hiking. I’m consistently training to push my physical limits. When surfing the big waves of the North Shore it’s not a matter of if your limits will be pressed, but when. Everybody seems to think that big wave surfing is about the adrenaline rush, but for me it’s more than that, it is about respect and humility.
Do you have a favorite quote?
Selecting a favorite quote is difficult, especially when there are so many to choose from. For work purposes, there are two categories that stand out: goals and teamwork.
A favorite quote of mine that describes the essence of goal setting is paraphrased from Aristotle below:
You are what you persist to be. Once you have set the seed and cultivated your inner way, it becomes easier to foster and enhance the process towards your goal. It is then that you become aware that, that which you thought was your goal, is but a stepping stone of your journey.
Considering I grew up playing football in Wisconsin, it would be difficult not to include a quote from Vince Lombardi, especially when it comes to teamwork.
Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.
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