Engineering Corporate Citizenship


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VAA’s connection with True Friends has included many activities over the past decade. Initiated by one of VAA’s founders in 2006, involvement at the camps began with individual volunteering, Eagle Scout mentoring and small “handy man” projects on site. As employees noticed a need for larger improvements, VAA offered and completed facility designs at Camp Friendship and Camp Edenwood. Jeff Schrock, CEO, currently participates on the Facility Advisory Board and continues to encourage fundraisers championed by VAA employees. “When employees come together to help True Friends on multiple levels, like facility access or making blankets for campers, it reflects our giving culture. It’s beyond satisfying to work with an organization like True Friends that has an impact on so many – we’re glad to lend a hand,” said Schrock.

Serving more than 4,000 children and adults each year, True Friends is a combination of five camps geared toward participants with a range of physical and developmental disabilities. The organization’s mission is to provide life-changing experiences that enhance independence and self-esteem for its campers. With activities ranging from archery to zip lining, these camps offer a unique and invaluable resource to participants and volunteers. VAA could not be more proud to support the cause and contribute to this inspiring community.


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Noel Kempfert, PE, recently joined VAA as Manager of the Food Processing Group. Kempfert brings over 30 years of mechanical engineering experience as a lead process engineer for facility designs, start-ups and new process systems for existing and new-to-market food products. At VAA, Kempfert will be the point of contact for clients’ food processing needs.

President, Keith Jacobson, PE, LEED AP, said, “To have Noel lead our food processing efforts demonstrates our commitment to this market. We value his comprehensive industry knowledge and feel it aligns with our clients’ requests to offer comprehensive engineering and process services at VAA.”

Further, Kempfert’s strong interest in training and mentoring staff supports VAA’s philosophy of encouraging staff growth through a culture of teaching and learning. “Noel’s passion to share technical knowledge with new professionals will be valuable as we continue to build a robust Food Processing Group,” Jacobson said. “Enriching the knowledge of our employees will only better serve our valued clients.”

Kempfert’s detail for design is evident when working with suppliers and contractors to deliver process systems for major food manufacturers. “I have worn many hats working in this arena and recognize how these experiences influence my approach to managing VAA projects,” stated Kempfert. “Equipment performance, ease of installation, maintenance and efficiency minimize downtime and maximize productivity. I understand how critical each aspect is to meet the needs of all parties involved and the importance of presenting a well-balanced approach to achieve overall client satisfaction.”


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What is it about VAA's culture and project work that resonates with Dunwoody College of Technology graduates? “The work ethic was a huge part of the training at Dunwoody,” said Bernie Jansen, VAA Partner and Dunwoody alumni, about his experience at the school. Read the full story in the Dunwoody Alumni & Friends spring 2016 magazine to learn what other graduates say about what they value at VAA.


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In collaboration with Cargill, Inc. and multiple contractors, the team won Minnesota Concrete Council’s Cast-In-Place Concrete Award in the pavement category. VAA engineers used concrete paving for the site’s access road, which was the majority of the project’s civil design. The road consists of 22,400 square yards, or approximately four acres, of concrete. Starting from the main highway and stretching around the facility structures, the road is nearly a mile long at a width of about 45 feet. The team exhaustively researched pavement options to ensure the proper method was selected for the facility. Conventional concrete pavement was selected as a durable, low maintenance and cost effective option in the face of continuous stress on the site. VAA’s civil engineering design improved the operational efficiency of the grain elevator facility in Pipestone, MN.

All entries were judged based on creativity, functionality, innovative concrete construction / design and positive representation and/or advancement of the Minnesota cast-in-place concrete industry. Landon Pohl, Lead Civil Engineer on the project, accepted the award for the team on Thursday, February 25. Reflecting on the experience, Landon said, “It’s always a rewarding opportunity to work on a Cargill project. Our work on this facility has been ultimately beneficial to Cargill, local concrete suppliers and the surrounding community.”


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The project team responsible for the design and construction of Wheat Growers' high-speed shuttle loading and fertilizer terminal located in Kennebec, South Dakota was recognized for their “Excellence in Concrete.” In close collaboration with GCC Ready Mix, VAA engineers provided structural designs for the entire facility. The design team incorporated concrete into the foundations and select walls of the flat storage and fertilizer structures. Responsible for each component of the facility's construction, SMA, LLC provided the slipform construction of the largest concrete structure on the site. The grain elevator alone is compiled of 4,450 cubic yards of concrete, or the equivalent of 350 cement trucks.

The South Dakota Chapter of the American Pavement Association offers this annual award as a way to highlight substantial concrete projects that promote their surrounding community.