Navigator Award Finalist: Mike McKee, Materials Engineer, Idaho Transportation Department, District 6


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Demonstrating the value of 3-D and 4-D modeling in civil engineering.

This is the 40th in a series of profiles on the 50 finalists for Route Fifty’s Navigator Awards program. The first 10 finalists were from the Government Allies and Cross-Sector Partners category. Finalists 11-20 were from the Agency and Department Leadership category. Finalists 21-30 were from the Executive Leadership category. Finalists 31-40 were from the Next Generation category. Finalists 41-50 were from the Data and IT Innovators category. Explore our complete list of 50 finalists.​

Going through Navigator Award nominations, we were impressed by submissions from the Idaho Transportation Department, including one for the ITD Director Brian W. Ness. In the Agency and Department Leadership category, we previously named Ness as a finalist.

For the Navigator Awards Next Generation category, we’re naming another finalist submission from the department: Mike McKee, a materials engineer in ITD’s District 6, which covers eastern Idaho.

McKee leads his district’s Design-Build development section and is heading up a project to replace up to 25 bridges in Districts 4, 5 and 6 and also directs a team that collects and organizes engineering data on the bridges to determine project requirements and seek best-value bids.

Additionally, McKee has led the department in 3-D and 4-D modeling to help improve design and construction techniques, which has demonstrated good return on investment in the process.

As a Navigator Awards nomination submission for McKee details:

Officials identified Mike’s 3-D construction modeling as an innovative practice for state transportation departments and contractors that improves overall construction quality while saving time and money. Meanwhile, the Federal Highway Administration has sponsored the Every Day Counts initiative across the nation, including 3-D modeling for construction, which always starts with designers. McKee project modeling enables conflicts in the staging and relocating of utilities to be considered in the design phase rather than in the construction phase, which is too late for engineering efficiencies.

As an engineer in training, Mike was lead designer for a major, $9-million project in the region, on an overpass bridging a busy stretch of interstate. Using Microstation [computer-aided design software], he modeled subsurface utilities in three dimensions, something District 6 had never done before. In the process, he identified conflicts in water, sewer, gas and fiber-optic utility lines ahead of construction. The 3-D model could be rotated, with different layers of utility and roadway elements viewed as if constructed. Mike coordinated with city and county officials and utility companies to address needs and resolve conflicts early.

Route Fifty is pleased to include McKee as one of our Navigator Award finalists for his good work demonstrating the value of 3-D and 4-D modeling in civil engineering and helping to deliver high value for his department and the state it serves.

Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.

NEXT STORY: Navigator Award Finalist: Omar Masry, Senior Analyst, City and County of San Francisco