State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame inducts Class of 2017

Published: Feb 21, 2017 10:00:00 AM

State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame Class of 2017

State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame inductees (L-R) Todd May, '90 materials engineering; Paula Marino, '92 electrical engineering; and Billy Harbert on behalf of his father, Bill, '48 civil engineering.

The State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame inducted five individuals, including three Auburn alumni, and honored a corporation during a recent ceremony at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and Spa in Montgomery.

The following five individuals join the 173 inducted into the Hall of Fame over the past 29 years: Bill L. Harbert, formerly of Birmingham; Paula Martese Marino of Birmingham; Todd May of Huntsville; Brian D. Barr of Birmingham; and H. Stuart Starrett of Birmingham.

Also, Krebs Engineering, with headquarters in Birmingham, was honored in the corporations category, joining 31 other corporations inducted into the Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame since 1987.

Founded by proclamation of the governor, the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame honors, preserves and perpetuates the outstanding accomplishments and contributions of individuals, projects and corporations/institutions that brought and continue to bring significant recognition to the state.

The Hall of Fame is overseen by engineering colleges and schools at Auburn University, Alabama A&M University, the University of Alabama, Tuskegee University, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Alabama in Huntsville and the University of South Alabama.

Bill L. Harbert, former chairman and CEO, B.L. Harbert International

Throughout his career, Bill L. Harbert built structures across the globe and at home in Alabama, earning a reputation as a premier builder entrusted with projects that changed the skyline and economies of the world.

Along with his legacy of impressive and expansive structures and developments, he founded what became B.L. Harbert International Construction, a rock in Birmingham’s construction industry that continues to shape the world.

Born in the Mississippi Delta, Harbert’s family moved to Birmingham when he was a child, and he later attended Auburn University, where his studies were interrupted by service in the Army during World War II. He graduated in 1948 from Auburn with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering.

After graduation, he and his brother, John M. Harbert Jr., began careers as civil engineers. Their first job was building a community swimming pool. In 1949, the brothers and friend Ed Dixon formed Harbert Construction Corp. in Birmingham. Harbert served as executive vice president and managed the company’s construction operations, both internationally and domestically.

In Alabama, he oversaw the construction of the bulk of the modern Birmingham skyline with such projects as AmSouth Harbert Plaza and SouthTrust Tower. He was also over Red Mountain Expressway, Riverchase Galleria and the Hoover Met Stadium. In Mobile, the company completed the Mobile Convention Center.

Harbert also had an eye for international work, pioneering opportunities worldwide such as many U.S. embassies whose design and construction stand as a representative of America abroad. From 1979 to 1990, Harbert served as the chief operating officer of Harbert International Inc., performing projects in South America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. In all, he worked in 33 countries on 50 projects.

International projects included building silos next to the Red Sea in Egypt while simultaneously installing collector sewers and pump stations along the Suez Canal. Harbert drilled water wells and distribution pipelines to assist Ethiopian refugees following the civil war. He constructed wastewater treatment plants in Puerto Rico and coal facilities in Chile. Harbert built the base of the Kuala Lumpur City Centre, where the largest towers in the world stand. He was also entrusted with building the “upside-down” bridge in Costa Rica on the Pan-American Highway System. His reach through worldwide construction projects far exceeded expectations.

In 1991, he bought the Harbert Corp.’s international operations, renaming it Bill Harbert International Construction Inc. He served as chairman and CEO until his retirement in 2000. The company continues in Birmingham with his son, Billy Harbert, at the helm. It still has an international and domestic presence.

Harbert, who passed away in 2010, was deeply involved in his profession and community. Among his many roles was president of the Pipe Line Contractors Association and member of the Construction Industry President’s Forum. He held position of director, first and second vice president with the International Pipe Line Contractors Association. He was also director of the Birmingham Metropolitan Development Board as well as the Birmingham Area Chamber of Commerce.

He is a 2000 inductee into the Alabama Business Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Associated General Contractors Construction Hall of Fame in 2007.

Paula Martese Marino, executive vice president engineering and construction, Southern Company

Over 23 years, Paula Marino has built a reputation for herself in the energy and engineering communities, currently overseeing more than $3 billion in construction projects for a leading power company and actively helping to develop young engineers. As executive vice president of Southern Company’s engineering and construction services organization, Marino leads approximately 1,400 individuals responsible for developing new generation and environmental strategy, executing major project design and construction, ensuring technology due diligence and supporting the operation and maintenance of the generating fleet.

Born in Huntsville and raised in Enterprise, Marino graduated from Auburn University with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1992 and went on to earn a master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1995.  Marino joined Southern Company in 1993 as a distribution engineer for Alabama Power Co. She was promoted to senior engineer for the transmission customer service department before transitioning to Southern Company Services in 2000, where she was named assistant to the president of Southern Company Generation and Energy Marketing. In this role she was a key leader in forming Southern Power Co. and managed the chief production officer’s budget.

In 2001, she became planning and engineering services manager for engineering and construction services, where she developed a new organization to manage the business side of engineering. She was then named environmental and retrofit projects manager in 2002, where she managed a project portfolio totaling $180 million. In 2004 she served as the design general manager and restructured the organization of 560 employees to maximize efficiency and effectiveness.

She transitioned to Southern Nuclear Co. in 2009, where she was promoted to vice president of engineering. In this role, she provided strategic direction for engineering, project management, supply chain, nuclear fuel, licensing and risk-informed engineering functions. She also improved engineering performance, reduced risk around strategic business initiatives and established a fleet mindset.

Marino returned to Southern Company Services in 2013, when she was promoted to senior vice president of engineering and construction services before another promotion in 2014 to her current role. In addition to overseeing the organization responsible for providing technical expertise and services for Southern Company’s power plants, she also recently developed a strategy to transition the work force to meet changing business needs.

A registered Professional Engineer in six states, she an advocate for engineering education, especially as a voice for women pursuing engineering. She serves on Auburn University’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Advisory Council and on the Auburn University’s Alumni Engineering Council, where she serves as the Public Relations Committee vice-chair. Marino is a member of the Center for Energy Workforce Development board of directors, The University of Alabama at Birmingham Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering Advisory Board and Auburn’s Engineering 100 Women Strong group, in addition to participating in numerous other committees and initiatives inside and outside of Southern Company. She has also served on the Electrical Engineering Advisory Boards for Tuskegee University and UA. She has mentored young engineers through such initiatives as iCan, Southern Nuclear North American Young Generation in Nuclear, Society of Women Engineers and Women in Generation, which she created.

Marino is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Auburn University ECE Industrial Advisory Board Outstanding Alumni Award in 2016, the Engineering Council of Birmingham Engineering Leadership Award 2015 and the ECOB Engineer of the Year in 2012.

Todd May, director, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

In a career dedicated to exploring space, Todd May has worked on two of the highest profile space projects of his generation, along the way becoming the most senior NASA official in Alabama. May is director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, managing a broad spectrum of human spaceflight, science and technology development missions contributing to the nation’s space program.

A native of Fairhope, May graduate from Auburn University with a bachelor’s degree in materials engineering in 1990. He joined NASA at Marshall soon after as an engineer in the Materials and Processes Laboratory.

Four years later, he was deputy program manager of the Russian Integration Office for the International Space Station at Johnson Space Center in Houston and subsequently given the task of integrating, launching and commissioning the ISS Quest airlock module.

After demonstrating both engineering and management success on the ISS, May led development of several high-visibility scientific experiments at NASA. He joined the Gravity Probe B mission to test Einstein’s general theory of relativity. With a successful launch, he moved on to head the Discovery and New Frontiers Science Program, with the responsibility for Space Solar Science experiments throughout NASA and the scientific community. He went on to work as associate manager for the Constellation Program and was also responsible for non-launch vehicle programs at Marshall.

His success led him to become deputy associate administrator at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., from 2007 to 2008. He was over the Science Mission Directorate, responsible for a $5 billion portfolio of robotic programs and projects, including more than 100 spacecraft at various development stages. He returned to Marshall as associate director, technical, to ensure all center activities, processes and policies were consistent with the nation’s Space Exploration Policy.

In 2011, May was tapped to be the program manager of the Space Launch System, the nation’s ambitious project to build the world’s most powerful rocket to carry astronauts on deep space missions to an asteroid and, ultimately, Mars. While at Marshall, he led SLS through a series of milestones, guiding the program through the early concept development phase into the design phase.

While guiding Marshall’s largest project, May was selected as deputy director of Marshall in 2015 before being appointed as director of the center in early 2016. He heads one of the NASA’s largest field installations with close to a $2.5 billion budget and nearly 6,000 civil service and contractor employees in and around Marshall as well as those as the agency’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.

He is a decorated NASA employee, selected for several NASA awards including 2016 AIAA Von Braun Award for Excellence in Space Program Management, Exceptional Achievement Medal, the Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Executive, Outstanding Leadership Medal and the John W. Hager Award. He is also honored by Auburn University as a Distinguished Engineer.

May is an advocate for human and scientific space exploration and has served as NASA’s voice at several high-priority gatherings including the International Astronautical Congress, the AIAA Joint Propulsion Conference, the National Space Society’s International Space Development Conference and the first Global Exploration Strategy Workshop.

Brian D. Barr, regional president, Brasfield & Gorrie

Brian D. Barr has more than 30 years of construction industry experience and a track record of successful project deliveries. He joined Brasfield & Gorrie Birmingham in 1997 and was charged with developing an industrial construction division. Since then, teams under his direction have built more than $5 billion in technically challenging projects across the country, including high-profile projects in Alabama.

A native of Florence, Barr earned a bachelor’s in civil engineering from the University of Alabama in 1981. He began his career at Texaco’s Central Offshore Engineering Department managing the design and construction process on offshore oil and gas production projects in the Gulf of Mexico, California and the Far East.

After more than four years at Texaco, he attended Stanford University, where he earned a master’s degree in civil engineering in 1986, with an emphasis on construction engineering and management. Barr then worked in heavy construction with Dunn Construction and then BEC Industrial and Civil Contractors (now Saiia) before joining Brasfield & Gorrie in 1997.

Since joining Brasfield & Gorrie in 1997, Barr has led the company into new markets while working his way to regional president for the company’s operating group that handles such engineering construction projects as water treatment plants, heavy civil works, infrastructure improvements, manufacturing facilities and power plants.

Under Barr’s leadership, his region has delivered nearly $1 billion in construction volume over the past four years. In addition, his region has secured high-profile clients including Airbus, Raytheon, Alstom, CSX, BNSF, Boeing, ACIPCO, Mercedes, Honda, Aleris and NASA as well as numerous power clients including American Electric Power, Southern Company, Duke Energy, Cheyenne Power and Florida Power and Light.

His region recently completed such notable projects as the BNSF Railroad Galveston Causeway Vertical Lift Bridge; Airbus Final Assembly Line Hangar; Bryant-Denny Stadium South End Zone Expansion; and Baton Rouge South Treatment Plant Wet Weather Improvements. Notable active projects include the SunTrust Park/Atlanta Braves Stadium exterior infrastructure, NASA Space Launch System Test Stands, and a greenfield water treatment plant for Huntsville Utilities.

Barr was instrumental in procuring two emergency replacement bridge projects following accidents and fires at Interstate 65 and Interstate 59/20 in downtown Birmingham in 2003 and 2005. Both projects were completed early, resulting in traffic being restored in record time and significant savings to the state.

Barr is also the executive team leader for corporate initiatives regarding Brasfield & Gorrie’s approach to risk management.  He has been strategic in influencing the culture, processes and best practices.

Beyond his work with Brasfield & Gorrie, Barr demonstrates leadership in the construction industry as a whole. He has served as an active member of several professional organizations, including Associated Builders and Contractors and American Society of Civil Engineers; and is past-president of the National Association of Industrial Office Properties, Economic Development Association of Alabama and Coalition for Regional Transportation.

He is actively involved with UA, serving on the President’s Cabinet and the UA College of Engineering as a member of the Leadership Board and Capstone Engineering Society. In 2001, he was named a UA Distinguished Engineering Fellow, and the UA College of Engineering honored him for his contributions in 2004 as Outstanding Alumni.

H. Stuart Starrett, former director of mechanics research, Southern Research Institute

Over 50 years, H. Stuart Starrett built internationally recognized materials research capabilities in Alabama unmatched in the technical community, leaving his mark in the defense, aerospace and energy industries. His legacy is defined by the groundwork he laid for the Southern Research Institute — a leader in high temperature materials research for aero-propulsion, re-entry systems, heat shields, ground-based turbines, nuclear power and other applications.

Starrett retired in 2006 as director of the mechanics research department at Southern Research Institute in Birmingham and remains an active engineering consultant with SRI. He joined the institute in 1965 after finishing studies in mathematics at the Naval Postgraduate School. Before that, he earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1962 and 1964, respectively.

He began his 50-year career at SRI as an associate engineer, becoming head of the Solid Mechanics Section in 1968, head of the Mechanics Division in 1977 and director of the Mechanics Research Department in 1990. Starrett gained an international reputation for his technical expertise in re-entry systems for SLBMs and ICBMs, solid rocket motors, advanced turbine engines, airframes and hot gas filtration for the power generation industry.

His knowledge and technical contributions have helped Alabama become a major player in the defense and power generation arenas, brought many high-paying technical jobs to the Birmingham area and generated more than $175 million in research and development revenue to the region. As an example of his technical capabilities, Stuart developed Southern Research’s high temperature materials evaluation laboratories.

The development of new missile flight systems would not have been possible without his technical contributions to advanced materials in extreme environments, which provided a fundamental understanding of materials with complex architectures in non-linear operational regimes. These flight systems serve as the backbone of the United States’ defense capabilities.

The technical contributions by Stuart over the past five decades laid the groundwork for Alabama to become one of the technical leaders in the development of hypersonic weapons systems, the next generation of conventional strike weapons. Among Starrett’s contributions were appointments to numerous planning activities for defense programs, and he participated in several failure investigations to help determine the problem in ground and flight tests by using his abilities in sound engineering and mathematical principles.

He also applied his skills to the U.S. nuclear fleet and was integral to the development of fundamental enabling material technologies and characterization methods necessary for the fielding of these complex extreme environment material challenges.

Along with work in defense and aerospace systems, Starrett helped solve challenging materials problems in the energy industry. He developed systems to filter hot gases from boilers for recovery of the energy in a gas turbine, critical work to assure continued success of Southern Company’s and the Department of Energy’s Power Systems Development Facility.

A registered Professional Engineer in Alabama, he is a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, American Mathematical Society and the American Carbon Society.

Krebs Engineering Inc.

A leading provider of professional engineering services to public water and wastewater systems over 90 years, Krebs Engineering Inc. has played a critical role in delivering clean, affordable drinking water and improving the water quality in streams for the people of Alabama. Krebs Engineering has a consistent record of developing innovative and effective solutions that balance the long-term technical needs of a community’s water and wastewater systems with the best interests of their customers.

Founded in 1926 as Polglaze & Basenburg Engineers, a partnership in Birmingham, the partnership is one of the oldest continuously operated engineering firms in the state. One of the founding members, Richard A. Polgaze, has Alabama Professional Engineer License No. 3. In 1945, Paul B. Krebs joined the firm and soon after was tapped as principal engineer. By 1960, Krebs became the majority owner. With continued growth, the firm became a corporation 11 years later when the name was changed to Paul B. Krebs & Associates Inc.

Since its founding, Krebs Engineering has worked for more than 90 communities in 44 counties across Alabama. Among the projects include several that were key to the progress of the municipal water and wastewater engineering industry in the state such as the first series operation of trickling filters in Opelika in 1950, the first activated sludge wastewater treatment plant in Anniston in 1954, the first advanced (high) rate water filters in Decatur, the first advanced wastewater treatment plant that met enhanced effluent BOD and TSS limits in Decatur in 1966, the first composite water storage tank in Opelika in 1997, the first water resource facility with LEED certified components in Opelika in 2015 and the first Bio-solids Dryer using Bio-gas to fuel the drying process in Albertville in 2015.

Krebs Engineering also pushed for early adoption of other technologies that are the industry standard. In 1996, the firm included ultraviolet light for disinfection and high-rate filtration at the Skinner Wastewater Treatment Plant in Leeds to meet stringent effluent limits required for discharging to a waterway, which is also a water source for the city of Birmingham. The firm also incorporated membrane filtration for production of potable water in Alabaster in 2006.

The W. Warner Williams Water Resource Complex in Opelika, developed by Krebs Engineering, was inducted in the Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame in 2015. The nationally recognized water resource complex enables the treatment facilities to consistently surpass all required drinking water standards.

Other projects that earned recognition include bio-solids improvements for energy recovery in Albertville; a new water treatment plant in Fort Benning, Georgia; expansion and improvement to the wastewater treatment plant in Madison; odor control and process improvements at the wastewater treatment plant in Albertville; master planning for Fort Benning’s water system; storm sewer improvements in the Jordan-Hare basin within Auburn University; expansion of the Willis T. Layne Water Treatment Plant in Jasper; the development of the Paul B. Krebs Water Treatment Plant in Anniston; the new Norman R. Skinner Wastewater Treatment Facility in Jefferson County; upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant in Piedmont; and the new Dry Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Decatur.

—Contributed by the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame