Georgia Engineering Alliance Recognizes Its 2012 Engineers of the Year

The Georgia Engineering Alliance (GEA) held the Annual Engineers' Week Awards Gala on Saturday, February 25th and Georgia Tech's School of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) was the common thread among this year's winners. Five of the organization's six Engineer of the Year awards were presented CEE alumni and faculty.

GEA's Engineering Excellence awards is an annual design competition held in conjunction with Engineers' Week. The competition recognizes engineering achievements that demonstrate the highest degree of merit and ingenuity, with entires rated on the basis of uniqueness and originality; future value to the engineering profession; social, economic and sustainable development considerations; complexity; and successful fulfillment of client/owner’s needs, including schedule and budget. The competition is open to all professional engineers throughout the state of Georgia and to students enrolled in a Georgia ABET credited engineering or engineering technology school.  

Engineer of the Year ~ Thomas Gambino, PE

Thomas D. Gambino, CE 1979Thomas D. Gambino is the founder and president of Prime Engineering Inc., a consulting engineering, architecture, and construction firm with offices in Atlanta, Georgia, Baltimore, Maryland, and Hong Kong, China. Mr. Gambino’s career as a professional engineer in the state of Georgia spans 30 years. Through his career, he has worked to advance engineering as a profession, as an economic engine of the state, and as a means to better quality of life for the citizens of the state. Mr. Gambino earned a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1979. After graduating from Georgia Tech, Mr. Gambino joined Camp Dresser & McKee as a project engineer. Later, he was employed by W.L. Thompson Consulting Engineers, where he worked on numerous large-scale high-rise projects in his role as vice president and managing partner. From the sophisticated fueling systems at the Cincinnati Airport to the basic human needs of correctional facilities in Georgia, Mr. Gambino has engineered and managed a wide variety of civil, environmental, and industrial engineering projects worldwide.

In 1990, Mr. Gambino founded Prime Engineering Inc. The firm specializes in the planning, design, and construction of: power generation and distribution; petroleum and biofuels refining storage and distribution; water and wastewater treatment; airports and airport facilities; petroleum/chemical process, bulk storage, and transportation; and manufacturing and product distribution facilities.

With more than 30 years of experience on hundreds of local, national, and international projects, Mr. Gambino has extensive experience in capital planning, project master planning, and engineering design and construction. His international experience with several project delivery methods provides clients with a unique project implementation perspective.

Lifetime Achievement Award ~ Thomas Furlow, PE

Lifetime Achievement AwardMr. Furlow was born, raised, and educated in Atlanta. He earned a B.S. in Civil Engineering and an M.S. in Sanitary Engineering from Georgia Tech.

After graduating from Tech, Thomas spent three years as a weather forecaster in the U.S. Air force, followed by three more years with the State of Georgia, Environmental Protection Division, working on wastewater treatment issues. He spent eighteen years with Jordan, Jones and Goulding (JJG) engineers working with many long term clients and managing projects.

In September 1999, Mr. Furlow accepted the position of Director of the Gwinnett County Department of Public Utilities (DPU). DPU is responsible for providing drinking water, wastewater treatment, and storm water services for nearly 750,000 residents of Gwinnett County. In 2005 Thomas retired from his position at Gwinnett County, and returned to JJG. Upon his return, he worked with governments in northeast Georgia to identify water resources to deal with growth and water shortages in the region.

In 2009, Jordan, Jones and Goulding was acquired by Jacobs Engineering. Mr. Furlow used this opportunity to work internationally, and in 2011, he served as a resident engineer on a large industrial wastewater treatment plant expansion in Jubail, Saudi Arabia. In August 2011, he retired for a second time.

Mr. Furlow is active in local affairs and involved in various organizations. He enjoys biking, hiking, collecting clocks, and water related activities with his wife Cindy and their children.

Engineer of the Year for Government ~ Jim Drinkard, P.E.

Jim Drinkard, P.E.Jim Drinkard has more than 30 years of airport planning and engineering experience and began his career as a design engineer working on the original midfield design for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in 1977. Currenlty, Drinkard serves as assistant general manager, Planning & Development at the Hartsfiled-Jackson International AIrport.

He returned to Hartsfield-Jackson in 2000 as a consultant planning manager prior to his current appointment as assistant general manager. Drinkard also served as co-director of planning for the Department of Aviation with primary focus on the $6 billion Capital Improvement Program.

Previously, he served as consultant project manager for several major projects at Orlando International Airport, including the major new fourth parallel runway, North Crossfield taxiway bridge, and South Terminal complex infrastructure development. He also served as a consultant project manager for major airfield and landside development projects at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, Houston Intercontinental Airport, Raleigh-Durham International Airport, Charleston International Airport, Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport, Huntsville International Airport, Savannah International Airport, and Philadelphia International Airport.

Drinkard has been actively involved in the Airports Council International, North America Technical Committee, Consulting Engineers Council of Georgia, and the American Society of Civil Engineers. Drinkard is a native Atlantan and holds a Bachelors of Civil Engineering degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Engineer of the Year for Education ~ Reginald DesRoches, Ph.D.

Dr. Reginald DesRochesDr. Reginald DesRoches Reginald DesRoches is the Dean’s Professor of the College of Engineering and Professor & Associate Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

His primary research interests are design of buildings and critical infrastructure under earthquake loads, and seismic risk assessment. He has a particular interest in mitigating the impacts of earthquakes in the Central and Southeastern U.S., and developing parts of the world, such as the Caribbean and Western Africa. He has given over 100 presentations in 30 different countries.

After the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, Dr. DesRoches served as the key technical leader in the U.S. response. He was a member of the early response team that traveled to Haiti to conduct critical building safety assessments for the United Nations. DesRoches has traveled to Haiti numerous times since the initial recovery effort to continue to study the impact.

Dr. DesRoches holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, a Master of Science in Civil Engineering, and a PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.

Engineer of the Year for Industry ~ Charles H. Huling, P.E.

Charles H. Huling, P.E.Chuck Huling serves as an Executive in Residence with Georgia Tech’s Strategic Energy Institute (SEI), providing consulting expertise in energy matters. Prior to joining SEI in January 2011, Huling served as Vice President of Georgia Power’s environmental affairs organization. In that position, he directed the company’s environmental stewardship and compliance programs to meet or surpass all environmental laws and regulations. Huling retired from Georgia Power in December 2010.

During his 36 years with Georgia Power, Huling held positions in the areas of power plant construction, project management, corporate communication, regulatory affairs, marketing, consumer affairs, external affairs, and environmental affairs.

For the past six years, Huling has guided Georgia Power’s environmental efforts through increasing regulatory requirements and unprecedented construction to install new emission-control equipment on the company’s largest coal-fired power plants. These controls will reduce Georgia Power’s emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury by a projected 93, 85, and 75 percent, respectively, by 2015.

Under his leadership, the company also secured the necessary environmental permits to transform Plant McDonough in Smyrna, Georgia, into a 2,500 megawatt natural gasfired plant from a 540 megawatt coal-fired plant. In addition, Huling spearheaded efforts to introduce a new mindset about Georgia Power’s environmental commitment, challenging management and employees to consider the question, “How Green Can We Be?” in daily business decisions.

Born in Atlanta, Huling is a graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology where he received a Bachelor of Civil Engineering degree. He is a Registered Professional Engineer in Georgia. Huling serves on the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District Governing Board, advisory panels for the State of Georgia Small Business Environmental Assistance Program, Georgia Tech’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Tech’s College of Engineering, and The University of Georgia’s College of Public Health.   

Young Engineer of the Year ~ Gregory Hebeler, P.E.

Gregory L. HebelerMr. Gregory L. Hebeler, PhD, PE was chosen for the Young Engineer of the Year award in Georgia for his accomplishments in the field of civil engineering. Greg pursued his academic engineering training at Clarkson University in New York where he led the university’s concrete canoe team for two years, served as a teaching and undergraduate research assistant, and graduated with great distinction with a BS in civil engineering in 1999.

After a summer as a staff engineer for GZA consultants in Boston during the summer of 1999, he matriculated to Georgia Tech to pursue graduate studies (MS and PhD). While at Georgia Tech, he was
a graduate research and teaching assistant, a Department of Defense Fellow, a National Science Foundation Visiting Summer Fellow at the University of Western Australia, and was granted a US patent for the soil testing device developed during his PhD studies.

During his time at Georgia Tech, Greg was awarded numerous academic, research, and teaching honors, including: a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, a National Science Foundation East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute Fellowship (served at the University of Western Australia in Perth), the James S. Lai award as the top geosystems MS student in 2001, commendation as the outstanding civil engineering teaching assistant in 2002, the George F. Sowers Award as the top geosystems PhD student in 2005, and the Jean-Lou Chameau award as the top civil engineering PhD researcher in 2005.


The School of Civil and Environemntal Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology would like to congratulate all of the 2012 Engineering Excellence award winners for their outstanding contributions to engineering. These individuals set a remarkable standard for the profession as a whole.