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Department Advisory Board

Our Department Advisory Board (DAB) is comprised of industry leaders who provide strategic guidance and support to the Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.  Respected leaders across a wide range of industries, they ensure that CEE @ USC remains at the cutting edge of the engineering profession and an influencer in industry.  They provide a direct link to private enterprise and our vast alumni network furthering industry-academia collaborations in research, new initiatives, student impact and the transfer of technology and innovative engineering solutions to the marketplace.
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Sonny Hassan Astani

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Brandon Blaylock

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Patrick Chraghchian

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Santanu Das

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Patrick Reed Fuscoe

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John Hanula

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George L. Pla

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Stephen C. Schrank

Steve Sellinger

Steve Sellinger

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David Howard Siemek

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Walter H. Singer

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Peter Wilson Trelenberg

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Alina Vartany

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Ching Wei

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Sonny Hassan Astani

Chairman | Astani Enterprises, Inc. | ’78, M.S. Industrial and Systems Engineering, USC Viterbi

Sonny H. Astani, founder of Astani Enterprises Inc., a development firm based in Beverly Hills, has over thirty years of real estate experience. Mr. Astani has been involved in the development and construction of over 8,000 luxury rental and condominium units valued at $2 Billion. Mr. Astani received his Master’s degree in Engineering from the University of Southern California (“USC”). In 2007, he made a generous donation to the civil engineering department, now named the “USC Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.” It remains the largest naming gift for a civil engineering department. In addition, Mr. Astani has donated $3.5 Million to the Skid Row Housing Trust, which provides housing for homeless and battered women and children, Dorsey High School, and Compton Junior Posse. Mr. Astani serves on the Board of Councilors for the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate, and the Pacific Council for International Policy. He has been awarded the USC Engineering School’s Distinguished Alumni Award and the Industrial and Systems Engineering Distinguished Award.

Brandon Blaylock

Brandon Blaylock

Managing Partner and Co-Founder | Faros Infrastructure Partners | ’79 B.S. Civil Engineering, USC Viterbi | ’83 M.S. Petroleum Engineering, USC Viterbi

Mr. Blaylock is based in San Diego and has 40 years of experience in development, engineering, banking, investments, company operations, and fund management. His background includes a broad range of sectors including oil and gas, transport, and energy. He spent 18 years at General Electric as CEO of GE Transportation Finance, Inc. as well as Managing Director and Executive Vice President of various GE Capital groups, including GECAS, Structured Finance and GE Capital de Mexico. Mr. Blaylock also served on the board of directors and investment committee of Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), a multi-billion-dollar infrastructure fund as a representative of GE Capital Energy Financial Services, Mubadala Infrastructure Partners, and the AIG GE Capital Latin America Infrastructure Fund. Prior to GE, he spent several years in banking and in the production department at Exxon. A proud Trojan, he earned his B.S. in Civil Engineering, an M.S. in Petroleum Engineering from USC Viterbi and an MBA from UCLA.

Patrick Chraghchian

Patrick Chraghchian

President and C.E.O., Adept | ’84 B.S. Civil Engineering, USC Viterbi

Patrick Chraghchian is the founder, president and CEO of Adept, a vertically integrated development, architecture and construction firm based in Pasadena, CA. With over 35-years of experience in the industry, Mr. Chraghchian has utilized his unique skills in design expertise, technical engineering, construction management, finance, and entitlement to deliver a range of building typologies across the region. The projects include award-winning multifamily housing, transit oriented mixed-use developments, office buildings, retail centers, public works projects, medical offices and more recently assisted living facilities. Adept’s portfolio is valued over a billion dollars with an additional billion dollars of development and design currently in the pipeline. Patrick is engaged in each project from development, design and final construction to ensure that the work follows Adept’s commitment to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) principles. The Adept approach centers on the belief that creative design and engineering are tools to enhance the quality of life for all and foster a positive impact on the environment and society. Adept projects focus on sustainable living through the creation of transit-oriented developments and the rehabilitation and adaptive re-use of existing structures which minimizes the impact of new construction while recycling and reusing existing resources. Mr. Chraghchian has served as the chairman of Old Pasadena Management District and chaired its Economic Development Committee. He has also been a member of the Engineering Contractors Association and actively supports the Western U.S. Regional Offices of the Homenetmen Armenian youth organization through its Finance Committee. As a proud USC Trojan, Mr. Chraghchian also serves on the USC Keck Verdugo Hospital Foundation Board and the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate Advisory Council.

Santanu Das

Santanu Das

Chief Business Officer and Senior Vice President, Bentley Systems | ’95, B.S. Civil Engineering, USC Viterbi | ’97, M.S. Civil Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Santanu Das manages the corporate strategy for acquisitions, investments, and new startup businesses for Bentley Systems, a leading software development company that develops, manufactures, licenses, sells and supports computer software and services for the design, construction, and operation of infrastructure. He joined Bentley in 2005 after the acquisition of Research Engineers. His prior roles at Bentley include senior vice president of design integration, vice president of design and simulation, and vice president of structural and building. Mr. Das also gained experience in finance before joining Research Engineers International in 1998 as a senior programmer, then eventually its president, transforming the world-renowned STAAD structural line of products into an open architecture platform where other applications could seamlessly integrate. He also started another company called Web4 that created real-time document collaboration services which was sold to a public company in 2006. Mr. Das earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Southern California and a master’s degree in civil engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also serves on the board of MATHCOUNTS, an organization dedicated to sparking a love for math in junior high students.

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Patrick Reed Fuscoe

Founder, Fuscoe Engineering, Inc. | ’72 B.S. Civil Engineering

Mr. Fuscoe founded one of Southern California’s largest civil engineering firms, Fuscoe Engineering Inc. Over the course of his 40-year career, he has led the design and construction of some of the most iconic communities in the region, including Woodbridge, Irvine, a two thousand acre planned community with lakes, which he completed at the age of twenty-seven; the Laguna Beach-Bluebird Canyon Landslide Repair; Orange County Fairgrounds; Ronald Reagan Federal Building and Courthouse; Dana Point Harbor Revitalization; Newport Banning Ranch Coastal Community; Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square at Santa Monica pier; and the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa.  Under Mr. Fuscoe’s leadership, Fuscoe Engineering has transformed into a company of individuals who work as a team dedicated to quality, service, and innovation, thoughtfully integrating the built environment into the natural environment in a creative and responsible manner. CE News Magazine named Fuscoe Engineering Inc. as one of the Top 10 Best Civil Engineering Firms to Work For in the nation.  The company’s philosophy and actions are guided by Mr. Fuscoe’s coined concept of “full circle thinking” which states that: “All things on earth are connected, each a part of the web of life. What we do, as human beings and designers, affects each strand in the web.”

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John Hanula

Senior Vice President | Office of Innovation- Business Strategy
Stantec
 | ’83 B.A., Architecture, University of Tennessee-Knoxville | ’84 M.S., Civil Engineering, University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Mr. Hanula is a Senior Vice President at Stantec in the Pasadena, California office. Educated as both an architect and civil engineer, John brings a broad understanding of the planning, design, and delivery requirements associated with complex infrastructure programs. During his 36 years of professional experience, he has served as project architect, project engineer and project manager for large assignments in both the US and abroad that have covered projects and programs in general building, water, transportation, and environmental management sectors. This experience has included the development and implementation for water/wastewater system infrastructure, transit, aviation facilities, hospitals, educational facilities, and commercial buildings. John regularly serves as a panelist on integrating water reuse into the urban fabric and authored, ‘Commercial reuse strategies for global urban growth’ for the Water Environment Federation. Mr. Hanula also serves on the College of Engineering Advisory Boards for the University of Southern California and University of Tennessee.

George L. Pla

George L. Pla

President and C.E.O., Cordoba Corporation | ’74 M.P.A, Public Administration, USC

George L. Pla is a successful entrepreneur, philanthropist, author, and a co-founder of the USC Latino Alumni Association. He is the Founder and CEO of Cordoba Corporation, a nationally recognized engineering firm, whose innovative leadership was the subject of a Harvard Business School case study. A life-time Trojan, George Pla’s connection to USC runs deep and spans close to five decades. In fact, the entire Pla family are Trojans. George met his wife, Gail, at USC, and their son and daughter both graduated from the prestigious university. George is a member of the USC Widney Society and the USC Scholarship Club.  He is a USC Presidential Associate and serves on the Board of Councilors for the Price School of Public Policy and the Advisory Board for the USC Viterbi School - Sonny Astani Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering. For his philanthropy and community service, George has been honored by USC with the "Alumnus of the Year Award" and is also a 2019 "Price Pioneer" for exemplary professional leadership and dedication to diversity. The California Latino Legislative Caucus recognized George in 2022 with the distinguished Latino Spirit Award in the State Capitol for his achievements in business and philanthropy. George is a Trustee of the California Science Center Foundation, where he chaired Cordoba Corporation’s historic transport of the Space Shuttle Endeavour through the streets of Los Angeles. Appointed by Governor Newsom, he is currently the President of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission, host of the 2028 LA Summer Olympic Games. George is the co-author of the formative book on Latino politics, Power Shift How Latinos in California Transformed Politics in America which recounts the history of Latino political empowerment in California and beyond.

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Stephen C. Schrank

Retired Executive Vice President, Rancho Mission Viejo | ’69 B.S. Civil Engineering, USC Viterbi | ’74 M.B.A., USC Marshall  | ’77 J.D., Southwestern University

After earning a Juris Doctorate degree from Southwestern University School of Law in 1977, Mr. Schrank worked for several development companies, including The Santa Margarita Company, where he served as Senior Vice President, and Rancho Mission Viejo as the Executive Vice President, combining expertise in engineering, business, and law. His career spans more than 45 years in planning, entitlement, government relations, infrastructure development, community development, marketing, and construction of large-scale, master planned development projects. In retirement, Schrank continues to work as an executive development advisor of large-scale communities in the Western United States.  

Steve Sellinger

Steve Sellinger

President, The Jikes Foundation
Co-Founder, Envent | 
’89 B.S. Petroleum Engineering | ’93 M.S. Environmental Engineering

Steve Sellinger is the co-founder of Envent Corporation, a provider of environmental services to the petrochemical, refining and midstream oil & gas companies and natural gas transmission industries since 1992.  Envent provides vapor control, water treatment and natural gas compression services. Mr. Sellinger leads the company’s growth strategy, risk management, regulatory updates, business development and marketing plans. Passionate about innovation and new technology, his team is comprised of engineers from a variety of fields working together to improve processes and push the bounds of technology to enable sustainability for our customers.

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David Howard Siemek

IT Architect-Technology Services | BNSF Railway Foundation

Mr. Siemek brings people and systems together as Enterprise Architect for the BNSF Railway, one of only four class one railroads in the United States. With nearly four decades of experience dedicated to information technology and 28 years focused on transportation systems, he is known by his colleagues as the “MQ Guy”, due to his expertise integrating large, disparate systems through Message-Oriented Middleware. However, it is his passion for developing new ideas and finding simple solutions to complex problems that has earned him the respect of the industry. He has professional certifications from IBM in Services-Oriented Architecture and Websphere MQ and has led many major initiatives, including Server Virtualization, Big Data and Social Business. 

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Walter H. Singer

President, Advanced Chemical Transport, Inc. | ’82 B.S. Civil Engineering

Chairman and Founder of ACTenviro, Walter H. Singer has led the company to become a a nationally recognized environmental and hazardous waste management firm, and one of the top 100 recyclers in the United States. ACTenviro’s 2,500 clients range from small businesses to local, state, and federal government agencies to well-known, multinational Fortune 100 firms. Under Mr. Singer’s leadership, ACTenviro has experienced consistent financial growth while having an exemplary safety record with the EPA, DOT, DOTS and local agencies. In 2019, IEA (Industrial Environmental Association) gave the company its coveted Environmental Excellence Award.   Inc. Magazine consistently ranks ACtenviro as one of the Fastest Growing Companies and one of the 50 Best Places To Work. Fortune Magazine’s Great Places to Work Institute ranked it as 19th Best Places for Women To Work. Mr. Singer is also expanding the company’s role with the State of California’s green initiatives, constantly searching for new innovations that help communities minimize environmental impact and sustain healthy environments. He earned a B.S. from the USC Viterbi in civil engineering and his M.B.A. from California State University, San Francisco.

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Pete Trelenberg

Retired | Former Director, GHG and Climate Change, Exxon Mobil Corporation | ’80, B.S. Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Pete Trelenberg received his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Wisconsin in 1980 and joined Exxon as a Project Engineer at the Bayway Chemical Plant in New Jersey. Pete subsequently worked in a variety of project, planning and business development roles of increasing responsibility for ExxonMobil’s Chemical businesses in the US and Asia; was a Senior Adviser at the Corporation’s headquarters in Dallas; Refinery Manager at Torrance in California; and head of Planning and Business Development for ExxonMobil Chemical Company in Houston. He became Manager, Environmental Policy and Planning for Exxon Mobil Corporation in December 2011, and was appointed as Director GHG and Climate Change for Exxon Mobil July 2020. Pete retired from Exxon Mobil Corporation in 2022. Pete has been licensed as a Professional Engineer in both Wisconsin and New Jersey.  Pete is married to Susan and has three married children (all USC graduates) and one granddaughter. Pete and Susan split time between South Bethany, Delaware, Dallas Texas and Palos Verdes, California.

Alina Vartany

Alina Vartany

Owner and C.E.O., Vartany | ’95 B.S., Civil Engineering USC | ’97 M.S., Civil Engineering, Stanford University

Alina Vartany is a USC Viterbi alumna, having earned her B.S. in Civil Engineering (Building Science) in 1995.  She received her Master’s degree in Civil Engineering (Construction Engineering and Management) in 1997 from Stanford University. She is currently owner and CEO of Vartany, a private construction company that funds and builds privately owned projects for new developments. She resides with her husband and two children in Bel-Air. Over the course of her career, she has held roles at G. Voskanian Construction and has experience estimating, bidding on public school projects, office management, project management as well as running new privately funded design/build projects.

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Ching Wei

Partner, RCap Equity | ’93 B.S. Industrial & Systems Engineering, USC

Mr. Wei is a Partner of RCap Equity. His career spans roles as an Engineer, Consultant, Managing Director, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Executive Officer at professional services and top management consulting organizations. Over his twenty-year career, he has consulted with numerous Fortune 50 corporations in areas of dispute management, operational efficiency, and financial risk mitigation across a wide range of industries. As CEO he focused on an organization’s operational, strategic growth and acquisition initiatives. Mr. Wei successfully oversaw acquisitions and strategic investments from private equity investors as well as guided an organization’s successful sale to strategic partners. His international experience has taken him across the globe to Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America. He earned his B.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering and Minor is Civil/Environmental Engineering from USC Viterbi and his M.B.A. from Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business.