GALVESTON, Texas (Sept. 1, 2013) – As a geotechnical engineer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District’s Geotechnical and Structures Section, Gary Chow is routinely tasked with providing engineering design support, permit application technical reviews and engineering recommendations for the operations and constructions of structures in dams, levees and navigation systems located within the district – a tremendous responsibility, but one he finds extremely rewarding.
“When I was growing up, I was always interested in trying to understand how to put things together and how they could do the job,” said Chow. “My father was an engineer so I think I came by it naturally. Ever since I graduated from college with an engineering degree, my interest in the practice has continued to grow with my experiences.”
With his main focus currently on the Addicks and Barker Dam Safety Modification Study and Design, Chow continues to collaborate on the development of a plan to minimize the risk of significant failure modes (cause of failure) that drove the “extremely high risk” classification of the structures in 2009 so that the projects meet the Corps’ tolerable risk guidelines. In addition to this project, he continues to keep abreast of developing technology that supports the Corps’ goal of improving methods of delivery and smart infrastructure asset management as well develop partnerships with local, state, federal and non-federal agencies to deliver comprehensive and lasting solutions to district project challenges.
“We constantly review and educate ourselves by taking every opportunity to attend technical conferences and continuing education courses to keep up to date with developing technologies and exchanging practical experiences that can enhance our lead in our engineering practice,” said Chow.
In May 2013, Chow’s technical paper on High Risk Flood Control Dams on Difficult Soil Foundations was selected as one of the few published papers among over 90 others to be presented in a session that covered the geotechnical engineering topics of failure and remediation of slopes, dams, embankments, landfills, retaining walls, slurry wall, deep excavations and stability and maintenance of monuments.
According to Chow, all of his hard work is paying off and making a positive difference.
“In June I was recognized as the USACE Galveston District’s Engineer of the Year for contributions in several initiatives in the geotechnical, dam safety and levee safety programs and for helping to build and maintain the district’s role as a leader in coastal engineering,” said Chow. “Specifically I supported the dam and levee safety programs to include inspections, reviewing permit applications, investigations for potential violations and report reviews which helped to ensure the dams and levees within the USACE Galveston District’s boundaries are functioning as designed to reduce risk to the public and infrastructure that are behind them.”
A native of Hong Kong, Chow earned a Master of Engineering (civil engineering) from Tulane University and a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Hong Kong Baptist College. He has professional engineer licenses in nine states. In his free time he enjoys jogging, fishing, home projects and judo. He resides in Bayou Vista with his family.
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