OHM Advisors: Meet our Experts Series
Quick Facts about Robert
- Title: Practice Leader, Collection Systems
- Office Digs: Livonia, MI
- Years in the Industry: 25+
- First Job Ever: Neighborhood Lawn Service Entrepreneur
- Exercise Fave: Cycling
We caught up with Robert during a few minutes of downtime in his busy schedule as a Practice Leader in the firm’s Environmental and Water Resources Group, to talk shop and other interesting tidbits.
I’ve always loved the outdoors and enjoyed my time around water in nature, but as a kid, I gravitated to computers first. I taught myself to code in 6th grade and then mastered the workings of my dad’s Apple II and my own Commodore 64 that I bought with my own money. By the time college rolled around and it was time to declare a major, I wanted to actually use computers to perform real applications, so I chose engineering. Then I narrowed it to civil engineering so I could work in water resources.
What’s a typical day for you at OHM Advisors?
I’ve been with the firm for 15 years now and spent much of that time on the modeling and hydraulics side of our group. Now I also focus on the water quality side of the work, managing and overseeing a variety of drinking water, sewer and stormwater system projects, and I head all of the firm’s national sewer work. Being a lifelong learner, I really enjoy developing and mentoring our highly talented water engineers and staff.
Tell us about that “lifelong learner” thing.
I get bored if I’m not learning! I’m always working on learning my own “next big thing”. The art of learning and practicing and improving is part of the fun in life. I’d like to apply that to being able to play music like guitar or piano someday.
So, have you run your own business in the past?
Yes, and I still do! As a kid I did neighborhood lawncare to make the money for my Commodore computer. Today, in addition to my work with OHM Advisors, I run a company called H2Ometrics that I started years ago with my college roommate, who’s an aerospace engineer. We used concepts from both our fields to create a web-based software for water and sewer monitoring and analytics. We help utility professionals and engineers manage their systems more easily and collaboratively with the power of the cloud.
In all of your varied work experiences, do you have a project or client that you’ll always remember?
Without a doubt, our current project with Oakland County is tops for me. I’m very lucky, because OHM Advisors took a chance and decided to invest in H2Ometrics to accompany its already-deep service capabilities for our water resources clients. We worked hard to engage the County in this project, then built an H2Ometrics data analysis application for them. It analyzes 1 billion data points from 240 sensors and various flow meters in the field. They can access their application in the cloud, making it easier and more collaborative for their team to manage their water system.
If you could grant one universal wish to help your clients, what would it be?
I’m a realist. My universal advice would be to focus on our scientific roots and let data, hypotheses, learning and adapting guide our direction.
You’ve got one day totally free from it all. What will you do?
I’d have a lazy morning with a late breakfast and single-track bike ride, then hit a microbrewery with friends.
What do you think is the single most important thing (world event, invention, social phenomenon) impacting your industry today?
The cloud. Everything is migrating there and away from physical desktops with installed software. The Web has turned into the world’s largest distributed computer application, and it’s going to completely change the way we conduct business and manage infrastructure. The Internet of Things is the future—it’s getting cheaper and cheaper to invest in sensors that hook our various home and life systems to the cloud.
Read more about Robert and the work he does for OHM Advisors and the water resources engineering industry.