Featured Designer: Norman Robertson, P.E., PMP (May 2016)

Posted: May 12, 2016

Norm-Robertson.jpgNorman Robertson, P.E., PMP, works as a project manager in the Florida Water Infrastructure group of Atkins in Sarasota, FL. We spoke with Norm recently about his experience as a civil engineer, his design style, and some of his most interesting projects.

Q: How did your career as an engineer begin?

A: I earned my degree in engineering management from University of Missouri-Rolla (which is now Missouri University of Science and Technology). I started working in a civil engineering firm in Tallahassee, and I’ve been practicing civil engineering ever since.

Q: How have your initial experiences as an engineer shaped your role today?

A: I have experience in a broad range of design practices from roadway design, subdivisions, land development, storm water, and utilities. I earned my P.E., but am really more of a project manager with a well-rounded technical background.

Q: What is your design style, and how do you bring that into your projects?

A: My goal is to deliver products to a client that meet their expectations. So my style is customer service focused. It’s shaped by identifying what it is they need and incorporating my engineering knowledge into their vision.

Q: What’s the most unique project you’ve worked on?

A: I worked on a cool site development project in Tallahassee. The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory had a grant to study superconductors, and the research team needed a huge, long stretch of land to do this process. We were able to work with the airport to put in a facility there, where they ran a mile of cable as straight and flat as you can. It had to be secure site, but still allow for emergency vehicles to get by. It was a fascinating site development project for me to be a part of.

Q: It sounds like you mainly work on projects that happen behind the scenes. Are there any more visible projects you’ve helped manage?

A: It’s true, most of my projects have been utilities since I moved to Sarasota, so you don’t see them. One that is visible is in Lakewood Ranch – their new operations facility. It’s a beautiful facility that I worked on the site development side for and then took over as project manager.

Van-Wezel-Sarasota-Boardwalk.jpgThe other is at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, where they had a few failing observation decks by the water. Most days, these decks have causal traffic, people walking on them to get a view of the water. But some days of the year, like the Fourth of July or when there are boat races, you will have large crowds of people out there. The City wanted to redo them to make sure they were structurally sound, and the PermaTrak concrete boardwalk idea came up since, it is more sturdy and can withstand some wave action. They wanted something that would last long but also have a natural look.

Q: How would you describe the finished product at Van Wezel?

A: In this case, we worked with the City of Sarasota, Van Wezel, and the contractors. Things can change when working with multiple entities, and PermaTrak was flexible and rolled with the changes, accommodating all parties and providing a great product. They made sure everything was installed properly by the contractors. Personally, I think it looks fantastic. I tell people about it all the time. 


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