By AJ McGinn, PhD, PE, President, Brierley Associates
A good man once told me that a day on the water spent fishing adds a day to your life. Alan Howard is an accomplished angler. Just ask my son, Logan, who idolizes his prowess on the water. While on a memorable drift boat trip, the guide mentioned to Alan and Logan that he thought they brought knives to a gun fight with their use of fly rods to catch steelheads. Both laughed and proceeded to hook and catch more fish than the other four boats combined.
Alan’s contributions to our industry span 45 years. They were enhanced by his passion for his craft and his good nature. Always quick with a joke and willingness to share a laugh, I am proud to call him my friend.
Alan’s comments upon our 20th anniversary demonstrate his enthusiasm for Brierley Associates and our collective calling:
“Collaborating as part of a team, working together to create solutions to challenges imposed by ground conditions is as good as it gets. It makes you forget it is ‘work.’ When you add enthusiasm and comradery it is… dare I say… ‘fun.’ ”
Alan mentored many young geologists, engineering geologists and tunneling engineers, quickly transitioning the relationships into friendships. No matter how busy, he has always made time to chat and explain things in a way that was down to earth and easy to understand. He has a way of instilling excitement into the projects that we were working on and seeing things from a different perspective. He continues to view things from a unique perspective that benefits projects and challenges. Alan has been a tremendous advocate for underground construction and for Brierley Associates, recruiting some of the best and brightest in the tunneling field.
Alan’s keen understanding of ground and groundwater behavior have been integral to Brierley Associates’ strength as a firm. Joining Brierley Associates very shortly after its founding, Alan took the point role on the ground serving as Geotechnical Discipline Manager of a four-company Geotechnical Team that successfully executed an approximately $5.5M geotechnical program for the planned tunnel system, during and after 9-11 for the Dulles International Airport Automated People Mover project, led by HNTB.
In 2006 Brierley Associates began work with the Fugro-led team geotechnical investigation for a new ocean outfall planned by Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts. Alan was responsible senior-level project management assistance for in-depth geological and geotechnical data collection and served as key liaison function between the prime geotechnical engineering firm and the Design Consultant. During this project Alan met Dave Sackett and Patrick Smith, who later joined Brierley Associates and remain significant contributors to the Brierley family.
Other notable projects include investigation and identification of a previously unknown fault that was the source of inundation events during tunneling for award winning Lake Mead Intake 3, Project Manager and Senior Tunnel Geologist for New Irvington Water Tunnel and Project Manager- SEM Engineer for the award-winning Caldecott 4th Bore roadway tunnel. A fortuitous outcome of Caldecott 4th Bore was Alan’s meeting of our current Director of Engineering Eric Lindquist, who at the time had his own firm with David Berti in Moraga, California
Many people have offered comments about Alan’s career, knowledge and character which is summed up in this recollection from Dave Sackett, Senior Engineering Geologist at Brierley, “As with many folks here at Brierley, you are the reason I am here. From the time we met, I admired your geologic and geotechnical knowledge, your balance of life and play, your descriptions of how Brierley Associates operated, and the way you worked hard to support Fugro during the intense onshore and offshore field campaigns of LACSD. In a very short time, I considered you a great friend, as I do to this day. I wish you well and hope that we continue to work together and enjoy life together. Here’s to you keeping your focus ever on the horizon, and never saying no to a new challenge or destination.”
Everyone at Brierley Associates, and indeed the many people in the tunneling field that Alan has influenced, wish him a satisfying and engaging retirement. Fish on!