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North Carolina Local User Group (NCLUG) is thrilled to offer an awards program for our members. We see value in our industry members who have demonstrated the highest standards of excellence and commitment.

We are pleased to announce the following awards for 2019:

>> Lifetime Achievement Award– Oak Thammavong, NCDOT

This special honor is reserved for members’ who have long and distinguished careers; who have made extraordinary contributions to the industry; and, who have actively participated in CADD activities. The Lifetime Achievement Award is based upon a distinguished service to the industry along with an active participant in NCLUG activities over the period of his/her career.  No one fits this bill of Lifetime Achievement more than Oak Thammavong with NCDOT.  In the words of Oak's supervisor,  Jason Moore:

Oak is what we call a “lifer”!  He has worked his entire career in the Roadway Design Unit, which began with his hiring in 1995 as an Engineering Assistant with Brenda Moore.  He worked his way up the technician ranks over the next seven years, finishing his ‘Plan Production’ career as a Transportation Technician IV (4) with Jim Speer in 2002. The following year he was promoted to a Transportation Technician VI (6) in the newly formed (and little understood) CADD SUPPORT GROUP. And thus began his transformation into the CADD Support Titan he is today, under the unorthodox tutelage of the infamous Ross McDowell.  Oak was promoted to a Transportation Engineer I in 2005 around the time Jim McMellon became the Squad Leader of the group. Oak then became an Engineer II in 2008. And this year, he was promoted to an Engineer III, because of the incredible effort and dedication I’ve witnessed as his supervisor the last 4.5 years.

Oak embodies the dedication and commitment you hope to see in an employee.  Very often he’s the last person you’ll see leave the office at the end of the day, and he’s seen more than his fair share of weekends at the office as well. Dean Noland (who was last year’s recipient of this award), worked with Oak for many years before I joined the group, and one of the things Dean said to me about Oak was, “you won’t believe the amount of work he produces once he believes in and commits to a project.”  And that has certainly been the case while we’ve worked together. It has been amazing to see what he does to keep our CADD ship afloat. And not just what he does with CADD support tickets (which we’re all familiar with) but the effort he puts into development, testing, and training. These last few years in the development of ORD with Oak, I’ve been able to witness first-hand, just what it takes to “birth” a completely new CADD platform. Workspaces, work sets, templates, parametric constraints, feature definitions, civil cells, annotation scale, civil geometry elements, scalable meshes … I’ve learned and entirely new language … and it has been stunning to see just what Oak does behind the scenes.  All those years as a designer, I just “double-clicked a file” … and everything worked!  I now have a new-found respect for WHY it works!

And Oak does all this because he really does care.  He cares about foundations, what he leaves behind that others will stand on.  He has a vested interest in this new design direction for our industry, not because of a paycheck, but because of his passion for service and excellence. You can often see this in the inspirational quotes he includes at the bottom of his e-mails:

"We went to the moon... not to write the pages of history, but to embrace our destiny."

"Life is not about waiting out the storm, rather … learning how to dance in the rain!"

"And his simple, usual closing remark ……………….. HIGHWAY TO HEALTH!"

What’s simpler than that?

So Oak, on behalf of the Department, the citizens of North Carolina (who are completely unaware of what we all do), on behalf of your NCLUG peers, and everyone here that you support, we thank you for your hard work and dedication.

This year’s recipient of the NCLUG Lifetime Achievement Award, goes to my co-worker & friend ……… Mr. Oak Thammavong.

Jason Moore, PE

Support Services Supervisor

Roadway Design Unit

NC Department of Transportation

>> Mentor of the Year Award  - Vasim Barodawala, Roadway Design Manager with ATCS

The Mentor of the Year NCLUG CADDy award acknowledges the time and dedication a mentor devotes to create a successful mentor/mentee relationship. This award acknowledges a mentor who has provided an exceptional level of support and contribution to the professional development and advancement of their mentees.

The Mentor of the Year Award goes to Vasim Barodawala a Roadway Design Manager with ATCS. Nominated by his mentee who just started his career right out of college and came into his position with next to no knowledge as to what he would be doing.  Fortunately, enough, Vasim just happened to sit in the cube next to him and helped guide him even thou he was never officially assigned to be his mentor.   

Vasim has never lost his patience even when asked what some may consider the most menial of questions such as “How do I open MicroStation?”. He explained everything in the most genuine way that has encouraged his mentee to understand rather than just absorb information and spit it back out.  Beyond the daily questions, Vasim pushed his mentees to continue to development on their own by keeping up to date on conferences and classes, such as the Summer NCLUG conference.  

Vasim has nothing short of a busy life when he is at home with his wife and two young kids. What distinguishes him from other mentors is that with everything he has going on in his personal life, he comes into work and is fully vested in the mentor role he has fallen into.  The biggest thing is that he is such a natural at the mentor-mentee relationship and providing guidance. If you came into work feeling overwhelmed and frustrated that could create a job you dread waking up every morning to go to.  Vasim role as a mentor turned what could have been a stressful and unfulfilling job into a career for his mentees. His mentees now have a passion for learning and are motivated to pressure more out of their own careers.  There is no value you can put on what a great mentor can do for you but creating mentees who want to follow you as an example so they can pay it forward is what makes Vasim Barodawala our NCLUG 2019 Mentor of the Year!

>> Rookie of the Year Award - Jessica Luther, Roadway Designer with VHB

The Rookie of the Year Award recognizes a member who has been in the industry for less than 7 years.  During this time, they have made significant contributions to the industry and established a positive impact in their environment. This award is based on a member who has great promise as a future leader in the industry and exceeds expectations in their field. Plus, an active participant in NCLUG activities.

NCLUG is proud to name Jessica Luther is a Roadway Designer with VHB as our Rookie of the Year. Since joining VHB, Jessica has been involved in feasibility study assignments, including concept design, quantity estimating, and quality control reviews. She has also prepared scoping reports for associated assignments that outline potential environmental impacts, project fatal flaw reviews, and alternative & cost summaries. Prior to joining VHB, Jessica worked as a Roadway Designer with Summit Design and Engineering Services for 5 years, where she provided design support on a wide range of transportation projects. She developed plans for all stages of design, performed quantity determinations and developed cost estimates. These are skill that show Jessica desire to grow professionally and her ability to learn new techniques.

Ms. Luther has been a great asset to NCLUG. She takes initiative, has been active on the board, and volunteers for tasks at a lot of NCLUG’s events.  Jessica is also active in other facets of the transportation community, currently serving on the Town of Zebulon’s Planning Board and as secretary for WTS NC Triangle Chapter. In 2020, she will serve as President Elect for the WTS Chapter. Her capacity to take on the responsibility of challenging tasks is a great sign that she will continue to grow into a positive contributor to our industry.   Even thou this rookie is from the pack (wolfpack that is), she is differentiated by her drive to succeed. Some people are just born to work hard and navigate change, this is Jessica to a tee.  Please help me congratulate Jessica Luther as our Rookie of the Year.

The NCLUG is proud to offer these awards for outstanding members’ in the CADD community.  We ask that thought out the year you consider those who make a difference in your life and recognizes them in some way.  Then nominate them for a 2020 NCLUG CADDy award!

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