Creating a Culture of Service

“Let’s make it happen.” If an employee brings an idea to the table, that’s the Coughlin Porter Lundeen response.

This affirmation, and dedication to supporting and celebrating employee initiatives, is a special component of our culture. It directly impacts the work we do each day, encouraging fresh ideas, creativity and collaboration, but dovetails into the firm’s philanthropic efforts too. With the full support of the firm’s leadership behind them, team members are empowered to bring their causes, philanthropies, and passion projects to the office.

The success of the firm’s philanthropic efforts lies entirely with our employees. They bring heart, energy, and ideas to so many different service avenues. Here we highlight some of our in-office champions and their causes.

Sawhorse Revolution

Kelly Lowe, Structural Project Engineer and Sawhorse Revolution Volunteer
Camie Mamer, P.E. Structural Project Engineer and Sawhorse Revolution Volunteer
Walt Busch, P.E., Structural Associate Principal and Sawhorse Revolution Board Member

The Sawhorse Revolution mission is to foster confident, community-oriented youth through the power of carpentry and craft. High school students are partnered with professional carpenters, architects and engineers, and work side-by-side to create needed community projects. (Sawhorse students have completed 57 projects across Seattle, projects like Estelita’s Library, a micro cultural space featured in Dwell.)

Sawhorse specifically focuses on youth of color, women and non-binary individuals. During their time with Sawhorse, each student is exposed to the virtue of work and power of making. They’re guided by AEC professionals and (an all-female) team of lesson instructors (like our own Kelly Lowe and Camie Mamer). And of course, the transformative building projects completed by Sawhorse student teams support a cross-section of community organizations.

A4LE Service Day

Jackie Sempel, P.E., Civil Associate, and A4LE Service Day Planning Committee Member

The A4LE Service Day gives back to the students in school districts that aren’t able to get bonds and levies passed as easily as others. These are schools that still need to be renovated or rebuilt, but simply can’t get voter support. Our team believes that every student deserves to feel proud of their school and be excited about coming to campus. And we know firsthand that even small things can make an impact on that front! From adding new mulch in planters to installing new benches and basketball hoops, small spruces really do make a big difference!

No date has been officially selected for 2022, but the committee is considering two service days this year. It’s a testament to the turnout these service days receive, and a great consideration toward recovery of some losses during the pandemic. Many schools find themselves in need of support. Doubling the service days would allow A4LE to impact more schools and districts. No matter which project is chosen, Coughlin Porter Lundeen will be there! We sponsor the service day and always have a good turn out from staff.

NAIOP Community Enhancement Day

Garo Pehlivanian, P.E., S.E., Principal, and NAIOP Community Enhancement Committee Co-Chair
Eric Dixon, P.E., S.E., Structural Associate, and NAIOP Community Enhancement Committee Sponsorship Lead

Every year, at NAIOP’s Community Enhancement Day, a team of volunteers transforms a site. It’s like a gigantic home makeover for an organization in need!

In order for this kind of transformation to happen in a day, lots of advanced organization is required. The committee is challenged with planning the day and individual work tasks, organizing financial support and material resources, and wrangling volunteer groups of 350-450. But the challenge is well worth it, especially since the organizations benefitted are always worthy and the “after” is always profound.

The most recent project at the Auburn Valley YMCA saw the construction of nearly 1,000 feet of split rail fencing. It took nearly every Coughlin Porter Lundeen volunteer to create the fence, and in the end, the fence looked great, coming together perfectly. The YMCA and NAIOP staff were so appreciative and we even got a few special shout-outs for the way we tackled our piece of the puzzle. Next up: Washington Middle School. The service day is slotted for October 1. Review company sponsorship information here!

Washington Alliance for Better Schools

Laura Lindeman, P.E., Structural Project Manager and WABS Volunteer
Jenna Louie, P.E., Structural Staff Engineer and WABS Volunteer
Marsha Swatosh, P.E., and WABS Volunteer

Washington Alliance for Better Schools (WABS) is a collaboration of school districts and industry leaders that leverage resources, talent, and intellectual capital to help over a quarter million students graduate career- and college- ready. The After School STEM Academy (ASSA) promotes hands-on STEM learning experiences for 3rd-8th graders.

An imaginative curriculum, each term runs for six weeks and features a weekly, one-hour lesson (think earthquake simulating shake tables, rocket launches, and rover builds) that expose students to how engineers work and think. In addition to a great lesson, students get the benefit of interacting with an industry professional, gaining a role model they can relate to. Each week, more than 150 volunteers visit classrooms!

From a volunteer perspective, this is a favorite among staff, largely in part because WABS is so organized, and does everything they can to make sure volunteers are set up for success and a great in-class experience. WABS plans all of the sessions, laying out each teaching guide and supplying activities. They even deliver materials to the office each week. They also communicate well with the teachers, who monitor classrooms and behavior, leaving us to focus on teaching and exploring with the kids!

Rainier Scholars

Javier Diaz, P.E., C.I.V., Structural Project Engineer and Rainier Scholars Volunteer
Michelle Ruzicka, P.E., Civil Project Engineer and Rainier Scholars Volunteer

Rainier Scholars increases college access and graduation rates and helps develop the next generation of diverse leaders. The organization supports students most underrepresented on college campuses, those who have the greatest number of barriers, to achieving a college degree. Approximately 90% of program participants are from families who qualify as low-income, and 90% are from households without a four-year college degree.

A powerful, proven program, scholars engage in a 12-year model that combines academic preparation, career and leadership development, and personalized, comprehensive support. The program evolves as it moves through the grades with additional classes, tutors, activities, and work experiences to give students the support they need to be successful.

Coughlin Porter Lundeen participated in a career fair put on especially for Rainier Scholars. We had conversations with the students, sharing about Coughlin Porter Lundeen, what civil and structural engineering is like, and what an internship or full-time position could look like.

We believe in Rainier Scholars because they push for equity, challenge the traditional education system, and provide support to underrepresented students. The 2022 Summer Teacher volunteering program is open in Seattle and Tacoma. You can fill out a general volunteer form online!

Housing Development Cosortium

Ben Frizzell, P.E., S.E., Structural Associate, HDC Volunteer, the Exemplary Buildings Program

The Housing Development Consortium’s (HDC) mission is to build, sustain, and inspire a diverse network committed to producing, preserving, and increasing equitable access to affordable homes. The group is a talented collection of industry professionals who share the goal of creating efficient, durable and safe affordable housing for the community. This is Coughlin Porter Lundeen’s second year as a member.

Structural Associate Ben Frizzell is the in-house lead. Within HDC, he supports the Exemplary Buildings Program (EBP). The EBP group helps establish best practices, covering everything from waterproofing details and MEP goals to framing details and code specs. For example, the EBP team recently completed a guide about wall assemblies. It was a great milestone as teams now have a verified guide and resource to reference. The guide improves the exterior wall assemblies, yielding better thermal performance and more efficient construction.

Another item we appreciate from HDC: their Communications Resources. Their library of resources is the perfect place to learn about homelessness and affordable housing and includes items like “A Glossary of Key Housing Terms,” “Piecing it Together: A Framing Playbook for Affordable Housing Advocates,” and “How to Have Conversations about Homelessness.”

ACE Mentor Program of America

Ana Perarnau, P.E., Structural Project Engineer, ACE Mentor Volunteer
Bailey Cook, Civil Project Engineer, ACE Mentor Volunteer

The ACE mentor program is a free, award-winning, after school program designed to attract high school students into pursuing careers in architecture, construction, and engineering. A national program, more than 10,000 students participate annually.

One of our longest standing partnerships, Coughlin Porter Lundeen has provided mentors for years. We believe in the program and love hosting students in the office for lessons. The benefits of the program are widespread, as students work with professionals from various disciplines, experiment with real-life scenarios, and contribute to realistic project RFPs.

As the school year wraps, ACE students are preparing their end-of-year presentations. The presentations are the culmination of the student-led projects that participants work on all year. Given to industry professionals and mentors, presentations are always a highlight, as they allow the students to step into a new role, grant them public speaking experience, and reveal just how much participants have learned!

There is no shortage of opportunities to give back in the Puget Sound area, both in AEC and beyond. In addition to the organizations featured above, we’re proud to partner with and support many others, including BikeMS, Construction for Change, Habitat for Humanity, Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI), Mary’s Place, Mercy Housing Northwest, Path with Art, Plymouth Housing, SCIDpa, Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE), and more.