In honoring “Global Day of the Engineer” (April 3), dk launched an April series that recognizes the positive impact of Engineers in our own community. In this Q&A, we sit down with our very own Chief Engineer in Charge—dk’s visionary President, Andy Palffy—to learn more about his role in leading one of the region’s top engineering firms and what he sees as the most critical areas of the industry’s future.
Andy Palffy approaches life with a drive to excel and thrive. This drive, and the love of possibilities, is a large part of what he cherishes about his career.
Andy graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1985 with his BS in Civil Engineering. Over the last 35 years, he’s expanded his knowledge and honed his craft. And every step of the way, he’s done it from his singular perspective. He’s seen the possibilities in every project and become a creative problem solver, contributing design solutions that are surprising, sustainable and beneficial to the community. Andy has infused this design philosophy and practice into the DNA of dk Engineering, recruiting a new generation of bright talent as dk has grown into an industry leader, simultaneously retaining the most adept engineers in the field.
1. As a partner in the firm for 25 years and the President of dk, you are responsible for guiding the day-to-day business activities and the team. What drives you in this role?
Definitely the relationships! My enthusiasm for every client, public and private, and for our entire dk team, cannot be understated. I also enjoy working closely with our Project Managers to ensure we meet our mantra of “Designing Forward”—optimizing function, place and potential of each project.
2. dk is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. How has the firm evolved in the time you’ve been there?
What started as a small-sized engineering firm in 1979 has evolved into a regional leader in the civil engineering, mapping, planning, and construction fields. We’ve worked in 250 cities and managed over $10 billion of construction costs, entitlements and permit acquisitions! Working with both private and public clients, we provide technical expertise and responsive solutions throughout the western United States. We have successfully completed numerous large and small scale residential, commercial and industrial land development projects, renewable energy projects, as well as school and park facilities and public roads.
3. What are the benefits you would tell a young person becoming an Engineer and critical skills to possess?
Both the benefit and unique aspect of being an Engineer is the ability to look at both the big picture while still focusing on and understanding the details. The reward of seeing your design, ideas and creations come to fruition as they are built provides Engineers a great sense of pride!
4. When you tell people about your profession, what’s one thing that surprises them?
For the most part, today it’s our work in the renewable energy industry. dk has a deep association with wind, solar and battery storage developers and has shaped many projects in this industry. Fun fact: over 200,000 homes have been powered through dk’s work on alternative energy projects in the past 5 years!
5. In general, what are the most daunting global challenges for Engineers in the next 25 years?
Technology and its advancement, particularly the explosion in training and manpower. For us, the key is to find and retain the most qualified, talented Design and Engineering professionals to be part of our dk family.
6. Why do clients choose to work with dk over your competitors?
Project developers, builders, municipalities and other clients choose dk because of the depth of our capabilities and the value we add to their project team. I am surrounded by a very smart, critically-thinking group of professionals at dk who are collaborative and responsive, and who bring the highest level of integrity to our work. We are also are very conscious to staying on-time and on-budget! Each project is unique, and we focus on solving challenges for our clients with the most innovative, out-of-the-box solutions.
7. One of dk’s core values is to approach the work and personal lives with a sense of balance, and with a focus on sustainability, innovation and inspiration. What inspires you?
Interacting with our talented staff and our clients; and the reward of accomplishing wonderful things as a team. I truly value the relationships I have built over the years and feel grateful every day for the opportunity to work with extraordinary people on such remarkable projects.