Engineering News-Record names two alumni as Top Newsmakers

Engineering News-Record (ENR) has named the top industry professionals for 2014. Among the Top 25 Newsmakers, recognized for outstanding achievements, are two Via Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering alumni. Walter Bailey graduated from Virginia Tech in 1972 and was inducted into the department’s Academy of Distinguished Alumni in 2014. Daniel L. Wade graduated from the department in 1992. The two will be honored along with 23 other industry professionals at the magazine’s annual gala on April 16 in New York City. Read below to see what ENR said about these two award winners and visit to read about all of the winners.

Walter Bailey (Class of 1972)

As DC Water’s assistant general manager of wastewater treatment, Walter Bailey played a key role in the public utility’s decision to implement an innovative system to create a better class of biosolids at the Blue Plains advanced wastewater treatment facility.

At the heart of the $400-million project is a thermal hydrolysis Cambi system that uses high temperatures and pressures to make biomass more easily digestible.

Thermal hydrolysis, commonplace in Europe, particularly in Norway and the U.K., had never been implemented at the scale envisioned at Blue Plains in the U.S., Bailey says.

During the 1990s and the early 2000s, he led a team of engineers and consultants on several trips to Europe to see firsthand how the system worked. Bailey also guided research at DC Water’s laboratories, as well as at Virginia Tech and Bucknell University, to test whether the system would work at Blue Plains. “We finally concluded, based upon experience in Europe and lab tests that we did over a couple of years, that it would be a good project for us,” Bailey says.

Now at the start-up phase, the system “is working just as well as we thought it would. We’re very pleased with the performance so far,” he says.

People who work with Bailey note that he is not just knowledgeable but also effective at building consensus. Perry Schaefer, vice president of Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Brown and Caldwell, which is the program manager for biosolids for DC Water, says, “Walt is very good at bringing all the forces together and all the pieces and people together and getting issues resolved and bringing closure.”

DC Water CEO and General Manager George Hawkins adds, “Walt’s extraordinary depth of knowledge, combining experience with this constant thirst for new knowledge about what’s cutting-edge, makes him really remarkable. He’s also one of the nicest people—to meet him, you’d never know he’s one of the world experts in this field.”


Daniel L. Wade (Class of 1992)

A decade ago, San Francisco’s Public Utilities Commission embarked on a bold plan to prepare for the next earthquake or other natural disaster. The resulting $4.8-billion Water System Improvement Program (WSIP) comprises 83 separate projects throughout the Bay Area to improve seismic and delivery reliability, ensure water quality and boost supply.

Civil and geotechnical engineer Daniel L. Wade joined the effort in 2007, and was tapped to manage 10 WSIP projects, totaling more than $1.3 billion, in the Sunol Valley. His ability to skillfully guide the planning, design and construction of some of the most technically complex projects in the program led to his promotion to director in January 2014.

“Being part of a program that has a clear purpose and such a tremendous benefit to the public has been inspiring,” Wade says.

With the program 85% complete, tough remaining projects mean WSIP faces “some of its most demanding challenges,” says Emilio Cruz, SFPUC assistant general manager. “We are confident that Dan’s strong leadership and water infrastructure expertise will enable us to complete this program successfully.”

The city manages all WSIP projects in-house and integrates design consultants and contractors to work hand-in-hand with city staff, even issuing hardhats emblazoned with the same team logo to all. That way, “everybody is part of the same team pulling together toward the same goal,” Wade says.

The collaboration has resulted in innovations in design, constructibility and project management. At the Hayward Fault Seismic Upgrade, for example, designers combined multiple strategies adapted from other industries to protect an essential water pipeline during an earthquake. Housed within an underground articulated concrete “vault” box, which can flex up to 6.5 ft like an accordion, the pipeline also can rotate via two massive, 72-in. ball joints—the largest ever manufactured. A 77-ton slip joint equipped with pressure- balancing cylinders allows up to 9 ft of compression.

Elsewhere, crews are poised to complete a five- mile-long tunnel underneath the San Francisco Bay seven months early. The design avoids environmental impacts that an immersed pipeline would have created. Unlike other big California public projects, there has been no litigation required to obtain environmental approvals during the entire program, Wade says.