RESPEC Announces 2018 I|C|I Award Honorees

RAPID CITY, SD—RESPEC is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2018 RESPEC Innovation, Collaboration, and Inspiration (I|C|I) Awards, including employees Evan Keffeler, Nathan Davis, Jay Nopola, and the entire 16Tan Oil Spill Independent Assessment Team.

RESPEC’s annual I|C|I Awards were established in 2010 to recognize professionals for their accomplishments and key contributions to company success. The I|C|I Awards honor staff members who consistently demonstrate RESPEC’s core values of integrity, honesty, passion, excellence, and entrepreneurial spirit.

The following selection criteria were used for the I|C|I Awards:

RESPEC Innovation Award: The RESPEC Innovation Award reflects the passion, pride, and commitment of RESPEC professionals in solving challenges for clients through the development of a new practice, product, or service. Innovation may also identify a significant change in a thought process or approach. RESPEC values new kinds of problem-solving and rewards changes in thinking categorized as “incremental,” “emergent,” or “revolutionary.”  Above all, the Innovation category reflects professionals and projects that demonstrate RESPEC’s entrepreneurial spirit.

RESPEC Collaboration Award: The RESPEC Collaboration Award recognizes performance as a true team—working together across divisional, geographic, and technical boundaries in the spirit of reaching common goals, sharing knowledge, and learning and building consensus.  The Collaboration category reflects a professional or team that demonstrates the ability to leverage the breadth and depth of RESPEC’s collective technical expertise and is committed to working collaboratively in the best interests of the client and company.

RESPEC Inspiration Award:  The RESPEC Inspiration Award offers recognition to individuals for providing motivational inspiration to another individual or team to achieve excellence.  The Inspiration category reflects a person who demonstrates exceptional creative and inventive thinking, and through his or her own actions, leads others to the highest level of a special achievement.

RESPEC President and CEO Todd Kenner commented, “The I|C|I Award program, now very strong in its eighth year, is a significant way that RESPEC recognizes truly outstanding employee contributions as our greatest inspiration.  These honorees have demonstrated the gold standard for the entire team. Congratulations to our 2018 recipients!”


2018 RESPEC I|C|I Award, Innovation Honoree: Evan Keffeler

RESPEC was tasked with designing a concrete bulkhead in an underground mine that was made with saturated brine solution.  The difficult project required developing instrumentation to measure stress for monitoring and ensuring the integrity of the bulkhead.  The main technical challenge, among many, was an extremely corrosive environment with potentially high temperatures and temperature fluctuations during the concrete curing.  The client also requested a 50-year design life.

Several instrument manufacturers declined to help with the project and none had previous experience or the required instruments. Evan Keffeler and his team developed an innovative vibrating-wire (VW) instrument that measures strain in six directions—a requirement to resolve triaxial stress.  The instrument’s material base is G10, which is a fiberglass and epoxy-based composite that is extremely strong and corrosion resistant, has virtually no propensity to absorb water, and can be easily machined.  A VW gauge is embedded in each instrument to measure strain, and the assembly is embedded in the concrete pour. The embedded device looks like a piece of rebar with a wire protruding from one end.

The innovative VW technology works much like a guitar string. When the VW string is “plucked” with a magnet, the same magnet measures the string’s frequency. The instrument has the same strain as the concrete around it and, therefore, is a direct measurement of concrete strain. After determining the concrete properties, VW strain gauge data are converted into triaxial stress within the concrete bulkhead.


2018 RESPEC I|C|I Award, Innovation Honoree: Nathan Davis

Over the past 4 years, Nathan Davis has been instrumental in streamlining the New Mexico Public Education Department–Operational Budget Management System (NMPED-OBMS) maintenance deployment processes.  This NMPED office reviews, analyzes, and approves all charter and district budgets as well as monitors the distribution and use of state appropriations each year.  Nathan is responsible for improving the computer system that provides school finance information and other data to the legislature, federal government, and general public.

As a software developer with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and 9 years of experience with multiple programming languages, Nathan has led several technology projects in the developer role and has maintained and improved code in existing projects. His passion is for developing secure, high-quality, well-tested software by continuously educating himself and his team while striving to improve the development process.

In Nathan’s NMPED-OBMS project, implementing a “system is down” informational message greatly enhanced deployments.   The DTS team now provides more frequent and less time-consuming maintenance support/deployment to the NMPED production.  More team members can work on independent parts of the applications simultaneously without overwriting or losing each other’s work.  Nathan also took the initiative to learn the Microsoft Azure environment and single-handedly oversaw the massive Azure merge last September.


2018 RESPEC I|C|I Award, Collaboration Honorees: 16Tan Oil Spill Independent Assessment Team

RESPEC’s 16Tan Oil Spill Independent Assessment team is receiving the Collaboration Award for their exceptional technical effort in supporting the Saskatchewan First Nation Natural Resource Centre of Excellence (the Centre).  As mandated by the Saskatchewan Nations, the Centre contracted RESPEC to perform an independent assessment of an oil spill on the North Saskatchewan River. The Centre expressed high appreciation for the team’s hard work that resulted in two additional oil spill projects and a brine-release project for the Centre.

In addition to assessing the technical and cultural damage to the impacted First Nations along the river, RESPEC’s high-performing team also joined in traditional ceremonies and practices in many meetings with the communities.  The cultural collaboration further strengthens RESPEC’s relationship with the Centre, as well as our understanding of indigenous practices for environmental sustainability in the natural-resource sector.

The project joined RESPEC scientists and engineers with other world-class experts who are experienced in high-profile oil spills, including Deep Water Horizon and Exxon Valdez.  Evaluating US regulations that are relative to Canadian environmental guidelines has enhanced further partnership opportunities regarding potential policy reforms.

The respectful integration of traditional knowledge with western science is a critically important bridge for natural-resource projects across North America. The 16Tan team’s increased understanding of balancing Indigenous Treaty Rights and natural resource development has far-reaching impact and resulted in uniquely positioning RESPEC within the Canadian marketplace.


2018 RESPEC I|C|I Award, Inspiration Honoree: Jay Nopola

Jay Nopola is the recipient of the 2018 Inspiration Award.  Since joining RESPEC in 2011, Jay has steadily advanced from staff engineer to group manager.  His ability to manage existing relationships and build new relationships has led to significant project wins.  Jay is the lead Technical Professional in RESPEC’s Hard Rock Mechanics group, where he has been the driving force around two major Department of Energy research grants: the Deep Borehole project and the Thermal Fracturing project; both projects are multimillion-dollar awards.  Jay has been relentless in the pursuit of developing new clients and expanding RESPEC’s business interests into hard rock.

The reasons for selecting Jay for RESPEC’s Inspiration Award are best expressed by his peers:

“Anyone who has had the pleasure of working with Jay Nopola can tell you that his excitement and passion for our work are relentless.  Not surprisingly, his enthusiasm is highly contagious, and one cannot help but be energized in his presence.  Jay actively and routinely encourages his colleagues to be creative and think of new and exciting solutions. Not only does he inspire his colleagues, he supports them along the way in whatever endeavors they are pursuing.  I believe Jay deserves to be recognized for his efforts and constant inspiration that is a cornerstone of his work ethic.”

Congratulations to the 2018 RESPEC I|C|I Award recipients. Their recognition is well deserved!

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