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MLAB 2021 Individual Awards

Congratulations to all the outstanding award winners this year, representing the best and the brightest of civil engineers in the Metropolitan Los Angeles Branch! Special thanks to Paul Lee, our 2021 Awards Chair.


Emily Garcia

Outstanding Civil Engineering Student

Emily Garcia is a recent graduate from California State University, Northridge receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering. Emily joined CSUN’s ASCE chapter and earned the positions of Fundraising Chair, Vice President, and eventually President in her senior year. She also involved herself in the organization as the Concrete Canoe Mix Lead, Sustainability Project Member, and Environmental Project Manager. As CSUN ASCE President, Emily and her amazing board were able to keep students engaged through the COVID-19 pandemic with collaborative events, workshops, and virtual socials.

One of the events she hosted with her student chapter was an Engineering Intern Panel. Over 120 high school students attended this virtual event to hear from twelve students with internship experience from six different engineering disciplines.

The group effort from her outstanding team led to CSUN ASCE winning the Robert Ridgeway Student Chapter Award, given annually by ASCE to the top student chapter based on annual reports.

Emily has also served as a Region 9 representative on ASCE’s Student Presidential Group and leads the Undergraduate and Graduate Studies committee of CSUN College of Engineering and Computer Science’s 5-year Plan.

Emily understands the importance of teamwork, mentorship, and leadership. As an older sibling to her ten-year old sister, she would like to continue to be a role model for younger students as she understands how the professional industry can be intimidating. Emily would like to thank Monica Morales for the nomination, and every student member of CSUN ASCE for allowing her to become a recognized member in their community. She plans on continuing her involvement as an ASCE younger member by joining ASCE LA YMF.


Sam Potts, PE

Outstanding ASCE Practitioner Advisor

Sam Potts, PE, M.ASCE is an Associate Engineer at MNS Engineers, Inc, working as a design engineer on transportation public works and capital improvements projects. Before graduating from California State University, Northridge, he held several positions with CSUN ASCE, including treasurer. He currently holds several leadership positions across the local ASCE geographic entities, including CSUN ASCE Practitioner Advisor, ASCE LA YMF PE Review Course Chair, ASCE MLAB Newsletter Chair, and the Los Angeles Section Strategic Communications Chair, and Secretary for ASCE’s Committee on Student Conferences and Competitions.

As one of the practitioner advisors of CSUN ASCE, Sam sees the benefit that a “values-first” leadership approach has in evolving the chapter, and takes pride in seeing the students and the chapter succeed. CSUN ASCE’s general membership sees Sam’s authenticity, making him an accessible and approachable mentor who can develop students into future leaders of the industry. His guidance allows students to self-learn and take calculated risks while offering support and engineering knowledge along the way. These contributions helped advance the chapter to be honored with the 2021 Robert Ridgway Student Chapter Award, bestowed upon the top ASCE student chapter based on annual reports.

Sam is very career-minded, encouraging students to apply to job and internship opportunities, and has hosted multiple resume workshops, resume review sessions, and even prepared a fully annotated resume template for students to create a professional looking resume with guidance on how to include professional content. He has also presented to CSUN ASCE on topics such as personal finance and an early-pandemic prediction on COVID-19’s anticipated impacts to the civil engineering industry. Recently, he was invited by the CSUN, Cal Poly Pomona, CSU Long Beach, and Princeton University student chapters to be a featured presenter in their March 2021 Student Leadership Workshop. Sam also hosts a “Why you should join ASCE LA YMF” meeting to directly persuade graduating seniors to stay involved with ASCE as younger members. Overall, Sam has served not only as a practitioner advisor, but also as a mentor to the CSUN ASCE membership.


Claris Rivera

Outstanding ASCE YMF Officer

Claris Rivera is a Civil Engineering Associate at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s Project Management Office where she manages the scope, budget, and schedule for water system capital improvement projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars. She graduated from CSUN with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and a Master of Science in Structural Engineering. As a freshman, she first became involved with ASCE through the student competitions and eventually branched out to other aspects of ASCE by becoming Fundraising Chair, Secretary, and President during her four years at CSUN. With all of Claris’ ASCE student experience, she knew that she wanted to give back to the students and share everything that she had learned. A year later, Claris was selected as one of the University Outreach Co-Chairs for the ASCE Los Angeles Younger Member Forum (YMF). As a University Outreach Chair, she was able to organize social and professional events that helped students grow their network and learn more about our civil engineering profession. Claris also served as the Engineers Week High School Day Chair where she coordinated technical presentations and hands on activities for over 200 students. In addition, she was nominated as the University Outreach Chair for the ASCE Metropolitan Los Angeles Branch (MLAB) to help bridge the gap between the Branch and student chapters. Her passion for helping students led her to strive for more; she currenlty serves on the ASCE society-level Committee on Student Members, helping oversee all 380+ student chapters in the world.

Outside of ASCE, Claris is involved with the Asian American Architects and Engineers (AAa/e) Foundation. She currently serves as the Secretary and Scholarship Chair. As Scholarship Chair, she is responsible for the scholarship and grant program where over $47,000 of scholarships and grants is awarded to students and professionals all over the country. In 2019, she served as one of the Student Outreach Co-Chairs that coordinated networking and professional development events for students and young professionals. Claris is also involved with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power - Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Professional Chapter as the Communications Co-Chair.


Brian Phan, PE

Outstanding ASCE Younger Civil Engineer

Brian Phan is currently a Transportation Engineer Associate for the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT). At LADOT, he worked on the development of Metro's Crenshaw/LAX line, which is an 8.5-mile extension of the Metro's Expo line to the Metro’s Green line Aviation/LAX Station. In addition, he is the project manager for the San Fernando Phase III bike path project as well as the Los Angeles River Bike Path Extension Project. Brian has been involved in ASCE since college and has continued his ASCE involvement by holding multiple board positions throughout his career and is now the President of the ASCE LA YMF chapter. In 2020, Brian was recognized by ASCE National as one of the “New Faces of Civil Engineering”

He has always been active in helping my community and primarily focused on inspiring students to pursue a field in STEM. He always likes to promote, ""Help someone be a better person than yourself."" As engineers, he believes we owe it to society to be strong community leaders and role models. As K-12 outreach Chair for his local ASCE Chapter, he had the opportunity to inspire over 3000+ students, visited dozens of schools, and started the first Civil Engineering High School Club in California. In addition, he had the honor to help coordinate ASCE annual Popsicle stick bridge competition for the past four years. He was also involved in helping out his home town and community by volunteering countless weekends as an Engineering Coach for Muscatel Middle School, Rosemead Highschool, and Edgewood Highschool Science Olympiad team.

As we are currently in this COVID 19 pandemic crisis, he coordinated and organized a project to create PPE for healthcare professionals. “Shields for Nurses” ( with a mission to supply as many hospitals with protective face shields, he was able to fund-raise over $20,000 and purchase multiple 3D printers to create protective face Shields. In doing so, we were able to produce over 5000 face shields and donate to over 120 hospitals in the Southern California area. As the virus continues to grow, I am still producing face shields and will continue to do so until we are free of this virus."


Mark Hanna, PhD, PE

Outstanding Civil Engineer

in the Private Sector

Mark Hanna, PhD, PE, is a Vice President and Senior Principal for Geosyntec Consultants, managing their downtown Los Angeles office and leading groundbreaking integrated planning projects such as the LA River Master Plan and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Stormwater Capture Master Plan. During his nearly 30-year career Dr. Hanna has worked within non-profit, academic, public, and, for the past 11 years, private practice. His accomplishments include innovative award-winning projects that focus on the interrelationship of water, people, and the environment. His work has won awards from the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists, the California Stormwater Quality Association, the American Public Works Association, and the American Society of Landscape Architects.

His recent work focuses on major planning efforts and civil infrastructure that enhance conditions for local water supply reliability, improved water quality, and reduced flood risk and floodplain resilience. Dr. Hanna spent seven years as a water resources engineer for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and during this time he developed multiple stormwater capture projects including spreading grounds and subregional facilities, while also serving as the water rights lead for groundwater remediation initiatives. Prior to joining LADWP, Dr. Hanna managed the Bureau of Reclamation’s (U.S.B.R.) “Real-Time Wetland Water Quality Management Program” balancing water supply, water quality, and habitat needs for a 50,000-acre wetland complex in California’s Central Valley. Dr. Hanna teaches capstone design courses at the University of California, Los Angeles, and leads the Geosyntec nation-wide Water Supply Practice.


Kaitlin Hannon, PE

Outstanding Civil Engineer

in the Public Sector

For over seven years, Kaitlin Hannon has worked in the Stormwater Engineering Division of Los Angeles County Public Works. Prior to her time at Public Works, Kaitlin worked in the Private Sector for over 3 years, and decided to transition to the Public Sector to have a more direct impact on her community. Kaitlin is currently an Associate Civil Engineer and is Project Manager for the Cogswell Reservoir Post-Fire Emergency Restoration Project, which was recently awarded as a $52 million construction contract. Kaitlin and her team expedited this project following the Bobcat Fire through successful teamwork, leadership, and communication. Agency approvals or authorizations were received from California Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Forest Service, and the Regional Water Quality Control Board prior to the expedited construction start date.

In addition to managing this project, Kaitlin serves as a Structures Specialist on LA County Fire Department’s Urban Search and Rescue Team, and as Co-Chair of the Public Works Women’s Leadership Council. After fires occur in Los Angeles County, Kaitlin often serves as a team leader for Public Works’ post-fire engineering advice teams, going out to assess residential properties and providing community members with advice on how to protect their homes from post-fire debris flow events. On her own time, Kaitlin participates in various community services events, such as compiling and donating hygiene kits to organizations that serve our unhoused neighbors and fostering dogs.


Amit Sudhir Joshi, PE

Outstanding ASCE Branch Officer

Amit Joshi is a Senior Dam Safety Engineer at the California Department of Water Resources, Division of Safety of Dams. He serves as a project engineer on spillway assessment and re-evaluation, dam appurtenant structures assessment, inundation maps review, and dam safety projects in California. Previously, he worked as a Bridge Engineer at Caltrans, Division of Engineering Services, Office of Bridge Design South serving southern counties in California. He has served as a project engineer on various seismic retrofit, bridge widening, and bridge replacement projects. Amit has a Master of Science Degree from the University of California Davis in Structural Engineering and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from the College of Engineering Pune, India. He is the chair of ASCE SEI Los Angeles Chapter and ASCE MLAB Professional Development. Amit enjoys cooking, hiking, and solving mathematical puzzles in his past time.


Joan Hsu

Outstanding Civil Engineer

in Community Service

Joan Hsu is a Transportation Engineering Associate at the City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation who has professional experience in traffic signal design, district operations, and communications. Her passion for professional and personal development led her to get involved in internal programs such as the Engineering Recruitment and Retention Programs, the Racial Equity Core Team, and the Complete Streets Committee.


Gaurav Sant, PhD

Outstanding Civil Engineer in Innovation or Research

Gaurav is a Professor and a Samueli Fellow in the Samueli School of Engineering with appointments in the Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Materials Science and Engineering, and the California Nanosystems Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He is also the Director of UCLA's Institute for Carbon Management. Gaurav's research encompasses heterogeneous reactions at solid-liquid-vapor interfaces including dissolution, precipitation, and electrochemical corrosion with applications in catalyzing new technologies for heavy industry decarbonization. The outcomes of this work are described in more than 170 peer-reviewed journal publications.

Gaurav is the Founder of CarbonBuilt Inc., a Finalist in the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE Competition, and a GlobalTop10 Innovation selected at The International Cool Earth Forum 2018. Gaurav's research has been recognized by numerous awards including the U.S. National Science Foundation's CAREER Award, a Hellmann Fellowship, RILEM's Gustavo Collonnetti Medal, the American Concrete Institute's Walter P. Murphy Jr., and J.C Roumain Awards, and selection as one of UCLA's Optimists. Gaurav has served as an expert providing: a) testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives and b) strategic consulting, core R&D, and innovation support to Fortune500 corporations, government agencies, philanthropic foundations, and industry organizations across the world.


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