May 27, 2021
We are highlighting the unique relationships we share in our global community of seasoned professionals. The strength of Epstein lies in the wealth of experience shared with each other to better equip our workforce with knowledge and confidence.
From building great professional relationships to long lasting friendships, these stories speak for themselves. This month, the spotlight is on Tim Gall and Christina Stoczynski from our Chicago Civil department.
Tim Gall is Epstein’s Chief Bridge Engineer, Associate Vice President. He joined Epstein in 2016, bringing more than 16 years of transportation engineering experience. Tim has worked on all aspects of structural design and analysis for major transportation systems, including roadway and railway bridges, earth retaining systems, and facilities. Some of his responsibilities have included the role of project manager and lead engineer for a variety of design projects, many of them in congested urban locations. His career experience includes design for retrofit, and repair and reconstruction of bridge structures, detailed inspections and acted as the on-site engineer for construction activities providing related construction services.
Tim holds both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in civil engineering and is licensed to practice in three states (Illinois, Florida and North Carolina, including a pending approval at New York State). His professional organization affiliations include ASCE, serving as a past chair, ASCE Illinois Section Structural Group, American Public Works Association, and Chicago Maintenance-of-Way Club. At Epstein, Tim has served as an ACE Mentor and is currently on the Oversight Committee Member for Epstein Community Foundation (ECF).
Tim has worked on large teams and mega-projects that total several billion dollars in construction costs and proposed on work in other countries such as Oman. Some of the clients he has worked for include IDOT, CDOT, Illinois Tollway, WisDOT, NYSDOT, MoDOT, Kane County, McHenry County, Winnebago County, USACE, RTA, CTA, Metra, Amtrak, Norfolk Southern, and BP.
Christina Stoczynski is a Senior Design Engineer within the Civil Engineering department and has been with Epstein for 3.5 years. She graduated from the University of Iowa in 2014 with a B.S. in civil engineering. Her focus area was structures, as she has always enjoyed building, crafting and creating things. Prior to Epstein, Christina worked at EJM Engineering, first in the structural department designing bridges and then in the civil department designing roadways. One of her first projects was the Farnsworth Avenue Bridge over I-88, which is right by her favorite shopping mall. She ultimately decided that she preferred bridge design and joined Epstein in 2017 as part of the bridge design group within the civil department with Tim. Christina is also a member of the ECF.
Tim and Christina have worked together ever since she joined Epstein. Some of their successful projects include the Recirculation Bridge at O'Hare Airport, WB Archer Avenue over the SB La Grange Road Ramp, EB Archer Avenue over WB 79th Street, and Plainfield Road Bridge over I-294.
What did you gain from being a mentor to Christina?
Tim: “Watching her growth and development in her design abilities and with client and other consultant interactions. I value and am invested in her success much like my own and hope that I can assist her at points along the way to reach her professional goals. I’ve learned quite a bit from her as well. We are constantly figuring out design details together with each of us bringing ideas. Her attention to detail has kept our designs current as codes and standards get updated by the clients during the process."
Could you share a memorable project you worked on together?
Tim: “Dare I say the Plainfield Road Bridge over I-294 project? Recently awarded for construction but awarded to Epstein in 2017. Over the last 3+ years the client has challenged many decisions and aspects of the design. Highlights include going from a 2-span bridge to 3-span bridge, steel vs concrete beams, rolling the bridge into place in parts, keeping the existing structure as is, using prefabricated elements (Tollway chose to use this as its pilot project) and finally modifying the span layout after the 95% submittal. Sometimes it was difficult to respond to the clients’ demands, but through it all, we ‘just kept swimming’. In the end, I am proud of the final product that Christina helped design, assemble the final contract documents for, all the while keeping me sane in the process."
Christina: “A memorable project we’ve worked on was the Plainfield Road Bridge over I-294. The project dragged on for over 3 years with breaks in between, which made it difficult to remember details when the project would start back up again. There were a lot of challenging design changes, often before a submittal, and at one point we even had to look into 'saving' the existing structure (I think I’m still Team Save the Bridge).
What are your secrets for a successful mentor/mentee relationship?
Christina: “I think it’s important to know each other on a personal level too. It makes the professional side of the mentorship less intimidating and helps me feel more comfortable if I have to bring up an issue or ask questions."
What are some of the successes and challenges as a mentor?
Tim: “The biggest challenge is carving out the appropriate time and attention to foster the relationship. No handbook exists that provides steps to successfully impact each individual’s development. Career development is a balance of on the job learning, continuing education and mentorship. Not providing that mentorship piece can lead to a gap in a person’s career development. Building a strong internal talent pipeline for future leaders within the organization aids company growth and employee retention. Informally, it helps forge relationships and develop perspective between two people at different stages in their careers."
What is the best lesson(s) you have learned from Tim so far?
Christina: “Tim and I are very organized. I’ve learned to make to-do lists at the beginning of projects and prioritize my tasks before a deadline. Working on the Plainfield Road Bridge that changed design a lot, I learned to keep all correspondence and take notes justifying a design change. Then you can always look back for explanation of why something was changed or who recommended the change."
In your opinion, how can mentors build a strong relationship with their mentee?
Tim: “Plain and simple - get to know each other. Outside of learning about career aspirations and how I can play a role in that, I enjoy learning about their interests (anything Disney with her) and finding commonalities. We both have a passion for volunteering. Practice what you preach. Modeling engineering decisions as you seek to guide your mentee to understand the process and the reasons why."
Something I appreciate about my mentor…
Christina: “Tim is an advocate for my professional success and personal well-being. He understands my strengths as a designer and gives me opportunities that I can succeed at but also challenge my abilities. He would check on me in the early struggles of the pandemic during quarantine and I appreciated that."
Something I appreciate about my mentee…
Tim: “Professionally, her project organization. Projects last for several years and decisions made along the process can be brought up for further discussions/solutions at several points along the way. She always finds the ‘why’ behind those previous decisions so the project does not stall. Personally, we have a similar sense of humor which makes our communication easier and work more enjoyable."
A little known fact about Tim…
Christina: “Tim’s a big Backstreet Boys fan! He even entered his wedding reception to one of their songs."