Carroll College, Helena Montana

Engineering Alumni Successes

Engineering Alumni Profiles

The Carroll College Engineering program has a long and rich tradition of excellence and has produced many outstanding engineering alumni. Each has used his or her unique talents to enhance their profession and communities. Here are just a few profiles of our graduates... what are they doing now?

  • Ray Messer
  • Laura Kohler
  • Ellis Beckwith
  • Sarah Nicolai
  • Raquel Ranieri
  • Andrew Powers
  • Craig Jenneskens
  • Troy Leistiko
  • Mary K. O'Hara
  • A.J. Porrini
  • Jon W. Lewis
  • Kurtis DeShaw

Ray Messer, P.E.

Ray MesserMajor: Mathematics (3-2 Program)

Montana native Raymond F. Messer, P.E., started his engineering career in Carroll's 3-2 program where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics. He spent two years at Columbia University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in 1970 and later a Master of Science in Engineering Mechanics.

Ray joined his current engineering firm, Walter P. Moore, in 1981 and became president in 1993. At that time, the firm had four offices and provided structural, civil and traffic engineering services. Today, Walter P. Moore has more than 400 professionals in 13 U.S. cities. It now serves clients in the areas of structural diagnostics, transportation engineering and parking consulting. Structural EngineerUnder Ray's direction, Walter P. Moore has won numerous prestigious awards for engineering solutions.

Ray was featured in the cover story for the July 2011 issue of Structural Engineer magazine.

Ray is also a former member of Carroll's Board of Trustees, serving as Chairman of the Board. Contact Ray Messer:

Laura Kohler

Laura KohlerDegree: Civil Engineering - 2007

A native of Spokane Washington, Laura Kohler is a 2007 civil engineering graduate. While at Carroll Laura was active in theatre and president of a student service organization called Engineers Without Borders (EWB).

In May 2007 nine members of Carroll College's student chapter of EWB embarked on their first international service project, traveling to the Santa Maria del Méxicano orphanage in the state of Queretaro, Mexico, to replace an open sewer with a modern treatment system. Laura was a leading member of the team.

Laura is now in the Peace Corps working on water projects in Honduras.

Ellis Beckwith, E.I.

Ellis BeckwithDegree: Civil Engineering - 2008

Current Work: Design Engineer (EIT), KPFF Consulting Engineers in Seattle, Wa

Brief description of responsibilities: I assist with civil design efforts for projects by providing design for storm water, sanitary sewer, grading, paving, general site layout, estimating and drawing production.

Briefly describe one of your more interesting projects or assignments to date: An interesting, albeit small, project I worked on was fuel tank replacement study for King County International Airport (Boeing Field). I was the lead on designing and comparing alternatives for the replacement of an above ground fuel tank within FAA regulated space. This included developing alternative layouts, analyzing turning movements for county vehicles, sanitary sewer design, storm water design, minor grading and paving, estimating and preparing a report for the client.

Briefly describe a notable memory from your days at Carroll: Running out onto the field with my brothers at Nelson Stadium on a sunny Saturday to a wild Carroll crowd is something I will never forget.

A piece of advice for prospective Carroll engineering students: Get involved with the student chapter of ASCE as soon as possible. You will meet new people outside of your dorm, and you'll have opportunities to work on fun and challenging project like the concrete canoe.

Sarah Nicolai, E.I.

Sarah NicolaiDegree: Civil Engineering - 2009

Current Work: Planning/Environmental Services Department Manager for Western Montana Region, DOWL HKM, Helena, MT

Brief description of responsibilities: Served as primary author of the Big Hole River Diversion Dam Environmental Assessment, assisted with wide-ranging public and agency outreach program, and helped secure necessary permits for the project to replace the existing diversion dam system. Due to imminent threat of dam failure and construction timing constraints, our team completed design, environmental compliance, and permitting efforts in an abbreviated timeframe. I enjoyed the fast pace and high-profile nature of this project!

Briefly describe one of your more interesting projects or assignments to date: I spent a lot of time with small groups in the Scola studying for tests or working on homework problems. I really enjoyed the support and camaraderie of my fellow students.

Briefly describe a notable memory from your days at Carroll: I spent a lot of time with small groups in the Scola studying for tests or working on homework problems. I really enjoyed the support and camaraderie of my fellow students.

A piece of advice for prospective Carroll engineering students: I would recommend pursuing as many internship opportunities as possible while in school. The work experience is invaluable in helping define your interests and preparing you for the world after graduation.

Raquel Ranieri, P.E., LEED AP

Raquel RanieriDegree: Civil Engineering - 2005

Post-Graduate Degree:: Master's Degree from University of Texas Austin in Structural Engineering - 2007

Current Work: Associate, Walter P Moore and Associates in Los Angeles, CA

Brief description of responsibilities: Structural engineer

Briefly describe one of your more interesting projects or assignments to date: I did structural engineering for a portion of the movable roof for the Miami Marlins new stadium, and I also was/am the lead engineer for the structural design of a 30 story office tower in Panama City, Panama

Briefly describe a notable memory from your days at Carroll: I always remember the late nights in the lab (when it was brand new) working on homework assignments and studying for tests. I also remember the times spent building our steel bridge, or mixing concrete for the concrete canoe, as these are were beneficial for understanding constructability issues as well as basic theory for later studies.

A piece of advice for prospective Carroll engineering students: Take in as much real world experience from professors and internships as you can. Also, don't sweat all of the small details, but make sure to understand the underlying theory, as much of what you solve in the future will be based off these concepts rather than specific memorized equations.

A piece of advice for prospective Carroll engineering students: I would recommend pursuing as many internship opportunities as possible while in school. The work experience is invaluable in helping define your interests and preparing you for the world after graduation.

Andrew Powers, EIT

Andrew PowersDegree: Civil Engineering - 2007

Current Work: Project Engineer/Assistant Project Manager, Federal Engineers and Constructors in Richland, Wa

Brief description of responsibilities: Provide technical assistance to Project Manager, Site Superintendant, and craft workers to support construction, demolition, and radioactive waste remediation projects, hoisting and rigging design, progress tracking and performance, prepare work plans and procedures.

Briefly describe one of your more interesting projects or assignments to date: Demolition of a decommissioned gold mine in Northern Ontario Canada

Briefly describe a notable memory from your days at Carroll: The first day in Dr. Scharf's engineering calculus class. I thought "Holy crap, what have I gotten in to?!" Also, beating Tech at everything was fun.

A piece of advice for prospective Carroll engineering students: Internships, Internships, Internships! Get involved in everything you can.

Craig Jenneskens, P.E.

Craig JenneskensDegree: Mathematics, 1992

Post-Graduate Degree:: Master's Degree from University of Notre Dame in Environmental Engineering - 2007

Current Work: Assistant Manager - Water/Wastewater Division, Robert Peccia & Associates, Helena, MT

Brief description of responsibilities: Project management and design of municipal water and wastewater systems.

Briefly describe one of your more interesting projects or assignments to date: Design and management of a 4.0 million gallon water tank and 1,800 gpm booster pump station for the City of Helena, Montana.

Briefly describe a notable memory from your days at Carroll: (1) Using knowledge from Al Murray's Probability & Stats class to develop a comprehensive odds table for the game of Keno. (2) Developing life-long friendships with members of the Carroll engineering faculty.

A piece of advice for prospective Carroll engineering students: Work hard, but have fun at the same time!

Troy Leistiko, P.E.

Troy LeistikoDegree: Mathematics, 1992

Post-Graduate Degree:: Master's Degree from Stanford University in Structural Engineering - 2007

Current Work: Senior Structural Engineer and Vice President, Eclipse Engineering, Inc. in Missoula

Brief description of responsibilities: In charge of structural design of buildings and accessory structures, conceptual development and design of framing systems and foundation systems, project management, specification writing, site inspection work, expert witness services, recruiting, management, and ownership duties (create a vision for the company's future).

Briefly describe one of your more interesting projects or assignments to date: Engineering is inherently un-interesting, but I once performed a site inspection where the client had a pet bobcat anxiously pacing back-and-forth on a clothes line adjacent to the foundation while I worked. Gymnasiums are my favorite structures to design. I engineered two five-story buildings on the University of Montana campus (Anderson Hall and the Interdisciplinary Science Building).

Briefly describe a notable memory from your days at Carroll: By far the most unforgettable event was the Blast of 1989. Nothing quite like a train explosion to give us a chance to bond together and overcome adversity.

A piece of advice for prospective Carroll engineering students: Take the tough engineering courses to help you land a job. Take the psychology courses and the communication courses to help you become a leader.

Mary K. O'Hara, P.E., LEED AP

Mary K. O'HaraDegree: Civil Engineering - 2005

Current Work: Civil Engineer, USKH Inc. in Spokane, WA

Brief description of responsibilities: I'm technically in the Water Resources group within my company, but my responsibilities aren't limited just to that. I do traffic planning, some road design, general civil site work, lots of storm water work, fish passage in streams, stream modeling, airport design, and construction management.

Briefly describe one of your more interesting projects or assignments to date: I'd have to say working on the Snake River in Nome, Alaska. The Alaska DOT&PF was considering relocating the river and creating a new river mouth into the Bering Sea so they could expand the airport and it's safety areas. I was responsible for setting up a model with both freshwater and seawater and putting together new cross sections for the river relocation. Definitely an "outside the box" kind of a project.

Briefly describe a notable memory from your days at Carroll: There are so many memorable moments from the Carroll days and most of them involve something Raquel and I did. The best? Most likely the time we made it on TV during a football game and didn't even realize it.

A piece of advice for prospective Carroll engineering students: Work hard and ask for help if you need it. Reach out to local professionals who volunteer with the school, they can give you a great picture of what the industry is actually like.

Andrew (AJ) Porrini, P.E.

A.J. PorriniDegree: Civil Engineering with minors in Business and Math - 2006

Current Work: Project Engineer for Turner Construction in New York City

Brief description of responsibilities: After earning his Professional Engineer license in the spring of 2010, Andrew has continued to develop skills and experience in water, wastewater, stormwater, and transportation fields. Many projects have teamed with other engineering disciplines to deliver holistic, interdisciplinary projects.
Andrew is working on contracts for large vertical construction projects in New York City. His specialities include sewer pump station design construction management, non-motorized trail planning, design and construction management, comprehensive planning documents for water, sewer and stormwater utilities,cost estimating, AutoCAD designs including Civil 3D, airport improvement projects, and asphalt pavement inspection.

Briefly describe one of your more interesting projects or assignments to date: I recently worked on a feasibility study and preliminary design for a setback levee in Sumner, Washington. With several major flooding events in western Washington over the past 5 years, there is a giant undertaking for better protection and prevention of flooding. One type of project that satisfies the goal of flood protection and also provides better habitat to restore salmon populations is setback levees. Setback levees provide a larger cross-sectional area for the river, while helping restore the natural riverine floodplain and channel migration process for the purpose of restoring salmon habitat. Currently, we are evaluating three alternatives for the project area. We are reviewing river-modeling results, analyzing potential habitat and developing costs for each alternative. Once the client (City of Sumner, WA) selects a preferred alternative, we will move into preliminary design and seek funding for final design and construction.

Briefly describe a notable memory from your days at Carroll: I remember going to Butte with Dr. Kevin Nielsen (former engineering professor at Carroll) and bunch of the engineering students to get a tour of the mining operations and Superfund cleanup at the Berkley Pit. We got a special tour from Russ Forba, formerly of the EPA, including a walkthrough of all the mining operations and construction of treatment facilities for treating the pit water. Mr. Forba also told us about the other project site, the Milltown Dam. The whole project was huge in terms of scope, area, and costs. I have driven past the Milltown Dam on a number of occasions, seeing what Mr. Forba told us about, including the dam and contaminated sediment removal.

A piece of advice for prospective Carroll engineering students: Being able to convey the technical information of what we do as engineers in a way that is understandable to the general public is the most important part of my job. Make the most of the writing and speaking aspects of all your classes. Communication skills are what set Carroll graduates apart.

Jon W. Lewis, P.E.

Jon W. LewisDegree: 3-2 major at Carroll and graduated in Mechanical Engineering from University of Southern California - 1984

Current Work: Engineer, Parametrix in Sumner, WA

Post-Graduate Degree:: Master's Degree from Seattle University in Business Administration (MBA)

Brief description of responsibilities: Negotiate the sale of all models of Boeing commercial aircraft and related services.

Briefly describe one of your more interesting projects or assignments to date: The most interesting project I participated in was an internal start-up of Boeing Business Jets, a joint venture between The Boeing Company and General Electric (GE). We pioneered a new market for the Boeing 737 airliner as a private jet for ultra-high net worth individuals.

Briefly describe a notable memory from your days at Carroll: I first saw the woman who would become my wife (25 years and counting!) as she dished up peas in the Saga dinner line. She was so good looking, even in her food service uniform, I had to get seconds and thirds of peas that evening…

A piece of advice for prospective Carroll engineering students: Persistence is worth a whole lot of smarts.

Also, recognize that one of the most valuable skills you will take away from the Carroll engineering program, a skill that is not fully develop in other engineering programs, is problem solving; how to critically assess a particular problem or issue, take it apart and solve it in logical, manageable steps.

Repeatedly in my career, in both engineering and business settings, I have encountered teams that were stuck, unable to resolve a dilemma. I have been able to contribute by helping to dismantle it into smaller hurdles; clarifying issues, identifying solutions to get over the hurdles, which then often lead to resolution of the broader issues.

The critical thinking, communication and language skills that you get in the liberal arts curriculum, combined with the objective engineering and scientific analysis skills that you get in the engineering curriculum is a potent and valuable combination of tools that sets the Carroll grad apart from most other engineers. Many engineers have great ideas, but not all have the ability to creatively communicate those ideas or to inspire others in their own creativity. These problem solving and communication skills are valuable in whatever career path you ultimately pursue.

Kurtis DeShaw, P.E.

Kurtis DeShawDegree: Civil Engineering - 2006

Current Work: Water/Wastewater Engineer, Morrison Maierle, Inc. in Billings, MT

Brief description of responsibilities: Design engineer for water and wastewater projects, water and wastewater modeling, and construction management

Briefly describe one of your more interesting projects or assignments to date: Currently I am the design engineer for a transmission waterline in Gillette, WY that consists of 45 miles of 42" waterline, 7 miles of 30" waterline, a new reservoir, pump station and a new well field.

Briefly describe a notable memory from your days at Carroll: The great professors who took time to bond with students and the small class size made the journey at Carroll very enjoyable.

A piece of advice for prospective Carroll engineering students: The real world experience that Carroll professors bring to the classroom prepares you well for the real world and creates a step ahead of most other universities.