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Earth’s unpredictability is something Jason Schwarz became familiar with at an early age on his family’s ranch in Texas. Working to ensure that our clients’ infrastructure projects are anything but unpredictable has become his specialty during his 20-year career at HVJ Associates®
1. Starting with some background about yourself, can you share how you got started in this field, and what inspires you most in your work?
Growing up on a ranch in Boerne, TX where we raised cattle, sheep, exotics and hay, I started learning at a young age the value of resourcefulness and problem solving to deal with the unexpected, which was quite normal on the farm, as we worked through the elements of nature. I mostly enjoyed working with the farm machinery, and this matched well with my interest in Geotechnical engineering, so I went on to earn a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas in 2002.
2. What is your role at HVJ?
I mostly work on large geotechnical and materials projects throughout South Central Texas, helping our clients resolve unpredictable issues. I lead our teams drawing from a broad base of past experience and engineering practice to provide cost-effective solutions that meet and exceed our clients’ budget and schedule requirements.
3. You’ve been at HVJ for 20 years. What do you like most about being part of the HVJ team? What are your future goals?
Problem solving on large, complex projects where we have to stay one step ahead of any unforeseen issues--this is what our clients seek us out for. I would be content to continue doing this type of work with our clients, working with them to solve their most challenging engineering design issues.
4. Can you briefly describe one of your recent projects, and what you found most interesting or challenging? What was the most rewarding achievement that came out of the project?
TxDOT I-10 Collector Distributor Project was on an expedited schedule despite the need to overcome a uniquely large slope--without compromising freeway traffic or safety at an adjacent shopping mall. The slope was a problematic cobblestone and boulder mix that required highly skilled drillers amidst a complex drilling schedule. During the process an auger became stuck while in the middle of the roadway during overnight construction. Fortunately, we anticipated potential breakdowns and planned accordingly. I already had the necessary equipment on site, so we were able to remove the auger without any damage before the morning rush-hour traffic commenced. This prevented a lot of potential public dissatisfaction. Enabling our client to keep this project on schedule and within budget amidst these challenges was most rewarding.
5. What would you say is most important in a project being successful? What are the common challenges you need to overcome?
Experience combined with deep investment in the final outcome of the project--this is key to the success of any Engineering project. And communication is a huge part of this, because each project has highly diverse teams of people who each have a different frame of reference, each looking to solve the problem from a different angle. We need to listen to the newer less experienced engineers on a project too, because they can offer a unique perspective that is equally valuable. Distilling all of the different comments and perspectives into a creative solution that benefits the overall project and our client is where the real challenge and value lies for all of our stakeholders.