Wednesday, May 30, 2012

IRWA Recognizes Aiello for Leadership in Classroom Education


Congratulations go out to our own Jim Aiello, in our Land Services Department, for his leadership and outstanding achievement in being awarded this year's IRWA Chapter Performance Rewards Program Prize for Classroom Education for "mega"-sized chapters!

Today, Commonwealth released the following statement:

May 30, 2012
CONTACT: Tim R. Davis, SR/WA - Land Services Manager
(517) 768-7153 or via email to

Aiello Receives Year’s International Right of Way Association Award for Classroom Education

JACKSON, MI – Commonwealth Associates, Inc. is pleased to announce that James Aiello, SR/WA, P.E. has been named this year’s Chapter Performance Rewards (CPR) Program Prize Recipient for Classroom Education for “mega”-sized chapters by the IRWA.  The program was created to recognize and reward the efforts of Chapter Leaders in Classroom Education, Credentialing, and Online Education.  Aiello is Co-Education Chair for Chapter 7, which had the highest percentage of Classroom Education participants relative to the chapter’s membership base in the “mega” Chapter Size category.  He receives a complimentary registration and paid travel to the 2012 Annual International Education Conference in Seattle, Washington, where he will participate in the conference’s Education Update and Best Practices Discussion, sharing ideas, tips, and strategies which contributed to the chapter’s success in Classroom Education. 

Aiello, a Professional Engineer and Licensed Real Estate Agent, has over 20 years of experience in design, management, and construction administration for a variety of civil engineering projects. He has dedicated nine years to land services, including the acquisition of easements, right-of-way in fee, relocations, and temporary permits and licenses for governmental agencies and other clients.  Projects have included airports, roadway improvements, utility projects, relocation, and wind power.  “Jim consistently demonstrates industry leadership and he approaches every activity with an amazing amount of energy and enthusiasm,” said Tim Davis, SR/WA, Manager of Commonwealth’s Land Services Department.

In addition to its Land Services, Commonwealth offers a complete package of engineering and consulting services for clients and is proud to be listed among the 2012 Top 40 Design Firms by EC&M Magazine and the 2012 Top 500 Design Firms by Engineering News-Record.  The company maintains principal offices in Mount Vernon, Washington; Atlanta, Georgia; and Jackson, Michigan, along with satellites in Columbus and Dayton, Ohio; Roanoke, Virginia; and Oakland, California.

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

See you in Atlanta!

Commonwealth Wind Project

Commonwealth will be participating in WINDPOWER 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia, from June 3-6.  If you stop by Booth 5754, you can chat with Vice President of Business Development, Linda Gray, and electrical engineers Bob Putnam and Gerry Callison.    

Speaking of power, Gerry will be demonstrating the power of our newest software release, Transmission Grid AnalyticsTM - Mapping.  You won't want to miss this great new tool and see how its ability to link a wind resources map to electrical data on the nearest substation can make your planning smarter, simpler, and easier.

The Expo starts on Sunday afternoon, continues on Monday and Tuesday (10AM - 6PM) and concludes on Wednesday (9AM - 3PM).  

Look forward to seeing you there!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Engineering a win against breast cancer at IEEE

The 2012 IEEE Power and Energy Society's Transmission and Distribution Conference in Orlando is over, but what we did there is just starting.  You've likely read our earlier posts about Kindle Fire winners, but we'd like you to meet our booth's biggest winner -- breast cancer research.

This year's general conference theme was "Making Innovation Work for Tomorrow" and Commonwealth certainly has a long and distinguished history of engineering innovation. It began with the Foote brothers' earliest achievements here in Jackson, Michigan (see our Corporate Timeline) and continues on today with our commitment to providing our clients with world-class customer service, applying forward-looking technical expertise, protecting client resources, and designing convenient and powerful software products, like Transmission Grid AnalyticsTM, to meet our clients' needs and expectations.  

The conference also had a special emphasis, and terrific panel presentation, on women in engineering.  To honor women in engineering, and frankly, women (and men) everywhere, Commonwealth chose to forego extra promotional giveaway trinkets and put our resources to a higher use...finding a cure and saving lives.

Commonwealth's booth
 Visitors to Booth 955 got the chance to take a spin on the candy dispenser to see if they could get a special pink M&M hidden among the others and win a $20 gift card.  For each card won, Commonwealth donated an equal amount to the fight against breast cancer.  Over 3 days, thanks to the countless conference attendees who came by and took a spin, Commonwealth gave away untold delicious candies, 43 gift cards, and $860 to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.  To learn more about this terrific organization, where over 90 cents of each dollar goes directly to research and awareness, please click HERE.  

Those who know Commonwealth, know of our long-time involvement in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, so this decision to support another great organization in the fight just made sense.  We know you love the logo pens, caps, key chains, bouncy balls, etc.  We also know that you love your mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters more, so we hope you'll think of us even without all the extra trinkets. :)

The conference is over, but our resources are just starting on their journey to bringing about, as BCRF's motto says, "Prevention and a cure in our lifetime."

Now that's innovation.  And it's working to give those battling and surviving cancer many more tomorrows.

More winners and pictures from Orlando

Commonwealth is pleased to announce the remaining Kindle Fire winners from Orlando:  G.T. Heydt, Franklin Lu, Dan Chaply, and Brian Booker.  Professor Heydt is the Regents' Professor and Center Director for the Power Systems Engineering Research Center at Arizona State University.  Mr. Lu is  Principal Engineer for System Planning and Protection with Snohomish County PUD.  Mr. Chaply is with PPL Electric Utilities.  Mr. Booker, T&D Lead at Arizona Public Service, is seen below with Commonwealth's Darryl Sentell.  Congratulations to all of our Kindle winners and a big "Thank you!" for visiting our booth and playing along.

G.T. Heydt

L-R: Franklin Lu, Dan Chaply

L-R: Brian Booker, Darryl Sentell

The team had a wonderful time in Orlando and after working hard for several days, decided to take a minute to relax their feet and enjoy the booth's comfy seats.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Barnes Announces Power & Energy Department New Hires

Today, Commonwealth released the following statement:

May 10, 2012
Contact: Samuel R. Barnes (517) 262-8258

National Engineering Firm Grows
Power Generation & Energy Team

JACKSON, MI – Commonwealth Associates, Inc.’s Power Generation and Energy Department Manager and Vice President, Samuel R. Barnes, P.E., is pleased to announce the department’s newest hires.

William McCourtie
William McCourtie, P.E. is a Senior Mechanical Engineer, formerly with HDR.  McCourtie has decades of experience in the development, design, and construction of power plants of all fuel types.  Engineering Specialist, Chuck Haglund, has officially joined the team and will initially be working on loan to the Substation Department.  Haglund brings a wealth of experience and is a tremendous asset to the Power and Energy team.  Prior to coming to Commonwealth, he was with Black & Veatch.  Courtney VanHemert is the department’s new Administrative Assistant.  VanHemert is completing her studies in Business Administration at Jackson Community College. 

Courtney VanHemert
“Bill, Chuck, and Courtney are terrific additions to this department.  Bill and Chuck’s depth of expertise is consistent with what people have come to expect from their interactions with Commonwealth.  The same can be said for Courtney’s professionalism and commitment to excellence, and it is my privilege to work alongside them as we continue growing this part of our business,” said Barnes.

Commonwealth offers a complete package of engineering and consulting services for clients and is proud to be listed among the 2012 Top 40 Design Firms by EC&M Magazine and the 2012 Top 500 Design Firms by Engineering News-Record (ENR).  Headquartered in Jackson, Michigan, the company maintains principal offices in Mount Vernon, Washington and Atlanta, Georgia, along with offices in Columbus and Dayton, Ohio, Roanoke, Virginia, and Oakland, California.

For more information, please visit:
On Facebook at:
On Twitter at:

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On Fire at IEEE in Orlando

We are pleased to announce the winners of our 2012 IEEE PES T&D Conference Kindle Fire Giveaway in Orlando!  Seen below with Commonwealth's Vice President of Business Development, Linda Gray, are winners Bob Sier and Ricardo Rodriquez.  Bob is an engineer in Substation Services with ATC.  Ricardo is an engineer with San Diego Gas & Electric.  Congratulations to both!

L-R: Bob Sier, Linda Gray

L-R: Ricardo Rodriquez, Linda Gray

Commonwealth's team is having a great time visiting with friends and making new ones, sharing the exciting new happenings at Commonwealth, and honing their expertise in the various technical sessions.  Among those in attendance is Steve Miller, seen below.  If you see Steve around Booth 955, you'll want to ask him how our newest transmission planning software releases in the Transmission Grid AnalyticsTM family -- namely Mapping and Cascade Analysis -- can help you plan smarter and easier.

Stephen S. Miller, P.E.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Conferences, Speakers, and Expos -- Oh My!

This week, we're in sunny Orlando, Florida, for the IEEE PES Transmission & Distribution Conference and Expo.  It's certainly warm and only getting hotter as our booth visitors can register to win a hot new Kindle Fire.  On top of that, we're spicing things up by giving away tasty spice blend packets again this year.  You can find great recipes on our website to put those spices to the test.

Next week, we'll be in Baltimore, Maryland, for Electric Power 2012 where Commonwealth's Vice President of Power & Energy, Sam Barnes, will be co-presenting "My Coal Ash Pond Will Be Closed - What Do I Do With the Wastewater?" in a session about power plant wastewater and environmental compliance.

Last week, Commonwealth's Ian Hutt co-presented "Using Locational Marginal Prices to Estimate Real-Time Emissions From Electricity Use" to the Michigan Association of Hazardous Materials Professionals with Michelle Rogers, a graduate student at Wayne State University.

So, as you can see, we're not letting any grass grow under our feet.  Check back often to learn more about what we're doing to share knowledge, actively participate in the industry, and have fun in the process.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Week's End Website Trivia

In case you missed it, we've launched a brand new website!  You can check it out here.

For those playing our Commonwealth Trivia game, the answer to our website trivia question follows.

Q:  In what year did the Foote brothers construct the Croton Dam?

A:  In 1908, the Croton Dam was constructed with a new, unbelievably high voltage (110 kV) transmission line, prompting engineers from as far away as Russia, France, England, Japan, and Italy to travel to Michigan to see the new line and meet its designers.