National Engineers Week 2019

Meet an Engineer: Cem Gokcora, PE

Author: Stacy J. Frost, PE Published: February 23, 2019

Cem GokcoraIt’s National Engineers Week! We are recognizing the great work MFA engineers do and celebrating the engineering profession with a profile of an outstanding MFA engineer every day this week. To learn more about MFA’s engineering work, visit our projects page, and read on to learn about today’s featured engineer, Cem Gokcora, PE.

In what states are you licensed?

California, Oregon, Idaho, and Washington.

How long have you been a PE?

13 years.

How long have you been with MFA?

7 years.

Does anything memorable stand out from taking your PE test? Do you have any tips for studying?

I remember stopping by the local grocery story to purchase a spare calculator half an hour before I sat for the test. I ended up not needing it but having to buy one at the last minute caused me unnecessary stress! Make sure to put your spare calculator somewhere you can find it if you are taking one. I strongly recommend solving plenty of practice problems, and timing yourself with a sample tests, at least a week or two before the test date as well. Having a test-taking strategy in place (i.e., skimming through all the questions to categorize them first and starting with the ones you know you can ace for sure) helped me a lot.

What has been one of the most memorable projects you have worked on, and why?

The Tennant Way Landfill Closure stands out for me, as it was the first project I worked on at MFA from cradle to grave. We developed an alternative approach to the conventional clay cap method, which resulted in more available disposal volume and significant construction cost savings for the client. As the design team, we had to go through design documents from the 1970s to reverse engineer and modify the inner-workings of the 40-plus-year-old stormwater system servicing the landfill site. The construction oversight effort was significant with long work days (including some weekends) and extensive daily progress reporting. After the completion of the landfill closure, we prepared a post-closure facility use plan outlining acceptable uses for repurposing the closed landfill facility. Overall, it was a fun project, and it felt good to be part of the group who helped transform a 25-acre solid waste landfill to a stabilized vegetative mound with minimal environmental impacts and no adverse impact to the public waterways.

What does being an engineer mean to you?

A life-long passion for offering solutions to complex problems by breaking them down to manageable components and applying all the tools (background, experience, skills, and technology) you have. I think it also means operating in a mode of continual improvement, so you can deliver remarkable products on time and on budget.