Developing the Next Generation of Professionals
"Knowledge Experience Integrity" Anthony M. DiGioia J., PhD., P.E.
Founder, DiGioia, Gray
"I feel it's my obligation to pass my knowledge onto younger people...and it's hard to do that by retiring to play golf."
Anthony DiGioia Jr. Is a living example of these words. Not only has this civil engineer co-founded several successful companies but this father of eight, has taught, mentored, and involved countless individuals in the profession of engineering, and has loved the experience throughout the past five decades.
“I admit I’m biased,”he laughed.“I believe everyone should get a degree in engineering civil, electrical, mechanical, or what have you before they pursue a career. The way I see it, engineering teaches people the art and science of problem solving.”
Upon graduating from the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) with a Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD in civil engineering, DiGioia went on to eventually become president of a Pittsburgh-based engineering firm and grew the business to over 450 employees. As part of an ownership transition plan, DiGioia and his partners eventually sold the firm to the company’s employees and “retired”.
“Then, my associate and friend, Dick Gray and I talked about what we wanted to do next,” he said. “We decided to do some avid practicing just the two of us working on projects we enjoy most.” Thus, DiGioia Gray was born.
But, as the saying goes, leopards seldom change their spots. DiGioia Gray began expanding. Today, the firm employs 70 people, in four offices, and is nationally regarded as one of the top consulting engineering firms in the power delivery market sector. In addition to transmission line engineering, transmission line foundation engineering, and substation engineering, DiGioia Gray offers geotechnical engineering, geology, structural engineering, construction monitoring, peer reviews, training, applied research and is the exclusive licensing agent and trainer for the Electric Power Research Institute’s (EPRI) FAD Tools foundation design software program.
“Since forming DiGioia Gray, we have established a proven track record of not only bringing projects in on time and on budget, but we are known for our ability to meet the most challenging and short engineering and design timelines.” DiGioia continues, “An example of this came around 10:00 AM one morning when an employee received a phone call from a valued client who needed help designing a foundation for a transmission structure that was damaged by a tornado. The challenge… they needed the design and construction drawings by the end of that day! In about six hours, we were able to assemble a team, develop an efficient design, and issue construction drawings.”
“Another interesting project,” DiGioia explains, “was when we were contacted by a client whose substation was sitting on top of an area where underground (long-wall) coal mining would take place in the near future. As you can imagine, this type of activity can have a significant impact on the existing electric transmission/substation system on the surface above. It can induce high secondary stresses that could cause failures. DiGioia Gray was asked to develop substation foundation and structure modifications to accommodate an approximate 5-foot vertical drop. Not only that, but it was of the utmost importance that the Substation remain in service during the mining process or a widespread electrical outage would occur that would affect many customers.”
DiGioia Gray’s innovative engineering expertise in predicting the secondary stresses induced in the substation and nearby transmission line structures, and designing and implementing a mitigation plan, prevented any damage to the critical substation and line structures during the long-wall mining operation. Further, the engineering solutions not only enabled the project to be completed on-time and within budget, it enabled the substation to remain operational throughout and, in fact, the mining equipment was powered by distribution lines fed from that substation.
“While it may not be appreciated by Society at large, I feel that the continuous supply and distribution of electricity is the lifeblood of our economy and benefits society in countless ways. As President of DiGioia Gray, I have had the wonderful opportunity to be involved in helping build and solidify the country’s infrastructure and I hope to pass that knowledge on to future generations of engineers. To that end, I participate in extensive applied research with the EPRI, and manage many new EPRI projects. For example, we are developing concepts to harden new and existing transmission lines subjected to extreme events, and we explore the design and construction of foundations for transmission lines, including developing software for the Foundation, Analysis and Design (FAD TOOLS) of electric transmission lines.” DiGioia explains. “It has been exciting to be a part of the effort to prepare this software and the accompanying manuals that have established a new standard of practice in designing and analyzing foundations for electric utility transmission line structures.”
“DiGioia Gray has been fortunate to have very interesting projects that contribute innovative engineering solutions to solve challenging problems that face our society today. And I view mentoring, and passing on knowledge as a personal and social responsibility.” DiGioia continues, “It’s very rewarding to see my students and my employees develop as professionals and to watch them enjoy their lives.” He pauses and reflects with a smile, “And while we’re at it, it would be great if we contribute to the health and welfare of the country.”