Engineering Corporate Citizenship


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Our Wellness & Community Outreach Committee organized an opportunity for VAA to participate in a Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) event. A group of volunteers raced the clock; hand-packing over 19,000 meals of raw products, dried vegetables and minerals into bags to be processed and shipped to children in Haiti. We are inspired by the reach around the world and dedication of this organization and can’t wait for our next FMSC event.


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As the latest ACEC Explorer Post, over 20 students joined us at our Plymouth, MN office in an exploration of industrial engineering. VAA’s activity created an assembly line that produced two Lego people (complete with tools). Participating as the machines throughout the line, students were asked to alter the process in ways that would improve the quantity and quality of the final product.

Led by industrial engineers who specialize in facility equipment layout, Brian Utoft and Hope Foley came up with this creative demonstration. “Industrial engineering has so many different facets; Hope and I both thought it would be a good idea to show a process similar to what we do here on a daily basis,” Brian recalled. “Once the students got going, they started to talk to each other as a team, to think creatively, to find solutions for the bottlenecks in the process – I think they got a lot out of it."

The Minnesota Chapter of ACEC organizes an annual Explorer Post event hosted by local firms in the consulting engineering community. VAA was proud to participate in this year’s program.

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Donors generously showed their support surpassing VAA’s $12,000 goal for its “‘Kiss’ Hunger Goodbye” 2016 Canstruction build. As a tribute to the late Minnesota artist, Prince, VAA was inspired by the gathering in his honor earlier this year at First Avenue. Totaling 7,755 cans of food, a time-lapse video captures the build taking shape of First Avenue, the popular Minneapolis music venue, with the Prince “Love Symbol #2” on the back wall. The structure earned the “Juror’s Choice” award in this year’s competition. This is the most the firm raised in a single year, achieving this milestone through internal fundraising events and individual and client donations.

We were honored to participate for the ninth consecutive year in Canstruction and provide over 7,300 pounds of food and $6350 to our neighbors in need. Thank you to all who contributed and special thanks to First Avenue for their support.


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As the 41st Ryder Cup begins at the Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, many VAA employees are rounding out their Minnesota golf season to watch the best of the best in action. VAA provided professional civil and structural engineering services in the complete rebuild of Hazeltine’s clubhouse and surrounding site in 2010/11 to prepare for the 2016 competition.

Large timbers salvaged from the original 40-year-old structure were used in the new clubhouse entryway, ceilings and mantel pieces of the 50,000 SF facility. A pair of steel trusses creates aesthetic functionality by framing a mechanical equipment well and ultimately a column-free ballroom. With transitions from the hardscapes near the clubhouse to the rolling hills at the first tee, Hazeltine welcomes locals and spectators from across the pond for the famed rivalry.


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STEM Day kicked off “The Great Minnesota Get Together” with 35 exhibitors of the Minnesota STEM Network, an initiative of SciMathMN, sharing interactive activities with young Minnesota State Fair visitors. In The WorksMuseum booth, budding engineers explored light refraction with VAA volunteers by making sunglasses with “magical” rainbow lenses while enjoying greasy fair favorites. “It was great to see kids so happy to learn something new through hands-on activities,” said Dave Olheiser, VAA Partner who volunteered in the booth.