Monday, December 31, 2012

A very special year

When the ball drops as tonight turns into January 1, revelers the world over will be celebrating the successes of 2012 and the opportunities that lie ahead in the New Year. Commonwealth will have an extra special reason to celebrate -- 2013 marks our 25th Anniversary of being employee-owned.

Beginning in January, and running through mid-July, we'll be kicking off the festivities with fun monthly activities for employees at each of our locations. On July 26th, we'll be hosting a party and hearing from dynamic speaker Garrison Wynn at Jackson Community College's Potter Center, in the newly-renovated Robert Snyder Dining Hall. A legacy gift will be presented honoring all founding shareholders and original employees. The celebration will conclude on July 27th with a casual employee family picnic on the grounds of our headquarters in Jackson, Michigan. We couldn't be more excited! We hope you will take a few minutes now and again to visit our pages -- on our website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and here -- to watch as this exciting year unfolds.

Whether 2012 year was your best year ever, saw some struggles, or landed somewhere in between, we now close the book on another chapter and, with gratitude and optimism, wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Congratulations to our grads

Power Generation & Energy Vice President, Sam Barnes, recently had a unique opportunity.

Being on the Board of Trustees at Jackson Community College, Sam was able to congratulate our Power Generation Department Administrator, Courtney V., on stage at her graduation.

The story began when Sam approached the deans asking for them to recommend a student who they thought would be an excellent employee and the rest, as they say, is history.

Commonwealth would also like to congratulate Vilroy H. on his recent graduation.  Vilroy, who works in our Southeast office in Kennesaw, Georgia, earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Southern Polytechnic State University. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

An Event to Remember....


Sure, we're a Top 30 Design Firm and we work hard to get there. That said, we also have a fun side. As you may have read in last month's post, October was our "Fall Fun Month." It was chock full of activities designed to bring employees together for a time of fun, fellowship, and good food. Our talented team works hard to bring world-class solutions to our clients' toughest challenges, and a bit of levity helps to maintain the balance that keeps us at our very best. We are committed to being an Employer of Choice and this is just one way that we work at it every day.

Here's the story in pictures:

Oktoberfest was a blast with festive music, freshly-grilled brats, homemade potato salad, soft pretzels with choice of toppings, and a keg of delicious ice-cold root beer.
Data Management's Diane Wilkie, won first place
in the Oktoberfest homemade potato salad contest,
securing the coveted "Golden Potato Award."
Entries arrive in advance of lunchtime voting in
our 2012 Pumpkin Decorating/Carving Contest.
No pumpkin decorating contest would be complete
without yummy pie with which to feed our employee-judges.

Employees were invited to participate and vote in a Halloween
Hallway & Office/Cube Decorating Contest. Team Lower Level
welcomed visitors downstairs with fun pictures of team members.

Having previously inhabited the lower level before relocation
to the East Building, the Electrical Systems Department's
presence could still be felt in the Haunted Forest.
If visitors survived the other creatures in the Haunted Forest,
this fierce animatronic feline was just waiting to pounce on his next meal.
The East Building's Haunted Hallway completely transformed
this Substation cube farm into a spooktacularly fun place for
employees and kids alike with a haunted hay ride and treats.

Of course, the whole experience would not be complete without
a good old fashioned scare from Substation's Pat Keene.
Visitors to the Haunted Forest for the annual Marketing Department
Halloween Party enjoyed delicious and nutrious treats.
Folks lined up waiting for the party to start and the food to flow.

Who knows who one might meet in the Haunted Forest?
Substation's Bob Uddin made it out just in the nick of time.

Someone wasn't so fortunate. She apparently flew straight
into Purchasing's wall. This is a shot of the fresh crime scene.

This week, Linda Gray (VP of Business Development) and Rich Collins (VP of Transmission & Distribution) are in Columbus, Ohio, for the Electrical Transmission and Substation Structures Conference. Attendees are invited to stop by Booth 3 to register to win a hot new Kindle Fire!
Tomorrow is Election Day in the United States and lots of important races and proposals will be decided around the country. No matter how you vote, it is important that you participate in this great facet of our republic democracy.

Sunday, November 11th is Veterans Day. This very special day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans. We owe them a debt of gratitude we can never fully repay.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I said I wasn't going to do this...

I have to confess...I did not want to write this.  Nope, I definitely did not want to be that person who talks about how great her company is, how nice his coworkers are, or all the wonderful things the company does in the community...but I will. 

Frankly, because it's true and I firmly believe that, if you are looking for an engineering job, then you need to know about it. 

Please forgive my unabashed company pride.

Since you probably don't have the couple of hours it would take for me to truly do justice to the company and the folks around here, I'll give you my version of a "highlight reel."

First, there's the whole employee-owned thing.  It's powerful.  It means that each of us care very much about what gets done and how.  We are invested in our clients and projects in a deeper way.  We are committed to creating the proper conditions for people and careers to flourish and for the best ideas to be unleashed and integrated into how we do business with clients and with each other.

Second, Commonwealth has a team of people who are incredibly talented and confident, yet humble.  In fact, many of them even lead or serve on the boards setting tomorrow's industry standards because they are just that passionate about their work.  But it's not all work around here.  If you want to enjoy a simultaneously fast-paced, yet remarkably relaxed atmosphere, then this is the place for you.  You certainly won't be bored, but you'll also have plenty of time for your weekly massage, employee softball team game, "What's for Lunch Thursday," or a delicious Relay for Life Cookout on the lawn listening to our own "Boiler Room Band".  For being so productive, folks around here certainly have work-life balance figured out.

Third, our projects are interesting and challenging.  Barges in Alaska, tower testing in Spain, under the Hudson River in NYC, who knows where you'll be and what you'll experience as part of your Commonwealth career!

Fourth, the benefits are great.  Click here to check them out for yourself.

Finally, while I could go on and on, I'll close with the biggie.  I very much admire my colleagues for thinking and acting beyond themselves.  Commonwealth enthusiastically embraces social responsibility and demonstrates leadership in the community to make a positive impact, not just for employees, but for everyone who lives and works in the surrounding area.  Whether sponsoring the annual Hot Air Jubilee, supporting the local performing arts scene, providing winter coats for kids or food for pets, collecting toys for Toys-for-Tots, cleaning up the roadsides, or mentoring future generations of potential engineers, Commonwealth employees are happiest when they are giving back and helping others.

I think you'll agree that my company pride is well-founded.  If you are looking for a terrific place to work, I invite you to check out our Current Jobs


Monday, June 18, 2012

Noteworthy News

Lots of great things going on with our folks this month!  Here are some highlights:
  • Congratulations to Kellynne Cole, who was honored today with a Volunteer Appreciation Award by Blackman Township (MI).  Township Supervisor, Dan Hawkins states, "Kellynne has been a Godsend for our Beautification efforts...she personifies the concept of 'giving' and is a true ambassador of Community Connection for Commonwealth Associates."  Kellynne is a CADD Operator in Department 40.
Kellynne Cole receives her award from Township Supervisor, Dan Hawkins.

  • Paul Reed, P.E., a Transmission Section Manager in the Northwest office, recently traveled to Tijuana, Mexico, to build a home for an impoverished family living in a retired landfill.  Paul reports, "We served breakfast one morning to 250 people in this community with another outreach program and also added electrical and siding to a room extension at a local orphanage run by a third ministry."  
Transmission Section Manager Paul Reed, P.E.

Reed with the team by their handiwork.

  • Also in the Northwest office, Admin Treasure Arens, reports that she will be receiving two tickets, which were drawn by lottery, for the August 18th PBS Antiques Roadshow Tour Event in Seattle.  Treasure states, "I am very excited because it is one of my favorite TV programs and it will be fun learning about my never know, I may be selected to be on TV!"

  • The Commonwealth Softball Team just wrapped up the first half of their 2012 season and started the second half with a big 26-4 win over Pentar Stamping.  Congratulations on an exciting season so far!

  • This week, Commonwealth staff and their family and guests will take part in the Summer Big Event -- which this year is a baseball game between the Detroit Tigers and the reigning World Series Champions, the St. Louis Cardinals.  The evening will begin with a picnic on the famed Pepsi Porch.  It should be a wonderful evening and a great opportunity to connect with other departments and new employees!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Just FORE! Fun

The Cascades Humane Society Golf Outing will take place 6/23 and Commonwealth's team has just been announced.  Representing Commonwealth will be the foursome of: Pat Keene, Mallory Hutt, Beth Garver, and Cindy Dillon.  Best of luck, Ladies!  

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 Mgr.
(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.

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

# # #

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, 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. 

“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 ConferenceKindle Fire Giveaway in Orlando!  Seen below with Commonwealth's Vice President of Business Development, Linda Gray, are winners Bob Sier andRicardo 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, April 20, 2012

Commonwealth Soars in Top 500 Ranking

What an exciting way to end the week!

Influential industry authority, Engineering News-Record, has released its highly-respected 2012 Top 500 Design Firms list and Commonwealth has secured a coveted spot again this year, as determined by annual revenue.  Even more exciting is that we've moved up 61 spots from last year's ranking!

Commonwealth President, Dennis F. DeCosta released the following statement today:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Easter Break and New Videos Released

Welcome back!  Hope your Easter break was enjoyable.  Can you believe the temperatures we've been having recently?  Of course, some have experienced more Midwestern storms wrecking havoc.  Our thoughts are certainly with those impacted.

Around Commonwealth, things have been exciting!  We've brought in a number of talented new folks to join the expanding team, are overhauling our website, and have created a series of videos to help tell the great story that is Commonwealth.

Here's a first look at Connect With Confidence:

If you are an engineer searching for that next job, or know someone who is, you'll want to watch this sneak peek of Working at Commonwealth:

You can view all of our new videos on our YouTube channel here.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Another busy week around the office

Not only are we busy with a number of exciting new projects this week, but our staff members are also busy demonstrating passion and leadership in other ways.  Some examples --

Bruce Powell
Bruce C. Powell, P.E., with Commonwealth in Roanoke, has been elected as a Member-at-Large of the Virginia Mountain Section of IEEE.  Bruce is a proud military father whose son has courageously been serving our country in the Middle East.  In addition to his degree from Old Dominion, Bruce also graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VA Tech), where he was a member of the Corps of Cadets.  He has over 30 years of experience in the design of protection and control and relay settings for high-voltage electric facilities.  

A Senior Member of IEEE, and Power Society Member for over 36 years, Bruce has served as Chairman of the Richmond Section and Vice-Chairman of the Worchester Section.  Bruce also chaired the ABET Advisory Council for Virginia State University's Engineering Department for 12 years and served on the Advisory Council for Virginia Commonwealth University for 3 years.

Ian Hutt
Electrical engineer, Ian Hutt, is speaking at Central Michigan University today as part of their Engineering & Technology Alumni Career Day.  A 2007 grad, Ian is joined here at Commonwealth by fellow CMU alum Chris Nelson, and Commonwealth intern, Nick Prawdzik, who will be joining us after graduation.  The founder of the college's IEEE Student Chapter, Ian was the first electrical engineer to come out of CMU's program.  

Ian and Mrs. Hutt recently welcomed a son, William.

2011-2012 men's ice hockey team
Commonwealth's men's ice hockey team wrapped up another exciting season with Game 27 this week.  Word is they didn't shatter their previous 16-10-1 record, but they are ready to come back strong and give it another go next season.  This season's roster included: Brandon Flager (goalie), Dan Agnello, Ryan Agnello, Mike Sokoll, Brian Schultz, Ken Wynychuk, Steve Arnold, Keith Schultz, Brian Wynychuk, Matt Halmekangas, Scott Czarnik, Brandon Houchin, Scott Marlett, and Andrew Bertke.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

What a week!

Several of our running club members enjoying the beautiful weather.

It's been a very exciting week here at Commonwealth.  We have great new projects underway, new hires to welcome, promotions to celebrate, a contest winner who came literally within one cent of guessing the actual stock closing price, and a number of fun, upcoming events which provide a terrific opportunity for employees to connect with one another and with the community around us.

I'd say it doesn't get much better than this, but then there's always next week!


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Backyard office visitors

For today's post, a picture truly is worth a thousand words....  You just never know what you're going to see when you come to work.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Twister lessons

The game "Twister" vividly demonstrates how intertwined people and lives can become.  If you've ever played it, you know just how hard it is to make a move without touching or impacting others.  So, too, when real life deals us a tragedy, such as the devastation resulting from the twisters in the US Midwest and South.  We cannot remain unaffected, regardless of location or personal involvement.  That's why we, at Commonwealth, stand united with all of those in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina who have experienced loss and are hurting.  Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families at this time and as they begin the courageous task of rebuilding their homes, their communities, and their lives.


Friday, March 2, 2012

We're Golden!

First, there was the Midwest heartland....

Next, it was the rugged Pacific Northwest....

Then, came the gracious and storied South, followed by the historic Mid-Atlantic, so the sunny Southwest couldn't be far behind!

Accordingly, Commonwealth is pleased to report that our newest office has opened in the "Golden State"!

We're thrilled to be in Oakland, California and, while it's not quite finished, we wanted to give you a sneak peak into our new digs.

From L-R: Rich Collins, Joe Fore, Ann Watson,
Judy Dinglasan, Steve Miller , and John White.
L-R: Ann Watson, Kathy Klaus, and Judy Dinglasan.
L-R: Joe Fore, Jeanette Dodge, and Ann Watson.

This is just the latest in the continuing story of Commonwealth's exciting growth and commitment to be best positioned to meet the expanding needs of our clients today and in the future.

Stay tuned to find out what's next!

(Thanks to Diane Wilkie, Commonwealth's Manager of Document Management, for the photos.)


Thursday, February 23, 2012

We don't just rock. Good causes -- it's how we roll....

If you read our last post about being named a "Rockin' Place to Work," then you know we believe in working hard and playing hard.

Here's more proof...

The photos below are of the "Dream Team," consisting of Bob Uddin, Pat Keene, Jim & Cheryl Trapp, and Sandy Fisher.  They recently represented Commonwealth at the "Fabulous 50's Crazy Bowl" supporting Junior Achievement.  The Dream Team took 3rd place in fundraising to support youth development and, as you can see, had a great time in the process!

Commonwealth, corporately and as individual employee-owners, is committed to making a difference in each others' lives and those in the world around us.  Each year, we support a number of worthwhile causes, from Relay for Life to roadside and river clean-up, to the Cascades Humane Society.  Our employee-led "Connect" group meets regularly to discover, plan, organize, and execute activities and events in 3 focus areas in which we can come together to have fun and enrich lives: Culture, Compassion, and Community.  

We don't just power transmission lines, we power growth, hope, and renewal...what an incredible honor!