Somshekhar (Som) Kundral is SCS Engineer’s most recent go-getter to receive the honor of a Waste360 40 Under 40 Award. Described by his supervisor, SCS Vice President Bob Speed, as ‘humble, hungry, and smart,“ Kundral has spent no time in the slow lane.
He joined SCS as a young engineer in 2010, and quickly worked his way up, reaching a senior management position in a few years.
He now oversees multiple remediation projects, from small to multimillion-dollar jobs, taking ownership of environmental aspects of redevelopment, from remediating groundwater contamination to addressing landfill gas problems as challenges. He has come up with unique and far-reaching solutions through collaboration with his team to help clients achieve their business goals.
But before telling the story of Kundral, the senior-level engineer and project manager, let’s start with an earlier chapter.
“It’s an interesting and kind of odd story,” he recalls. “A friend asked me to drive him to a job interview as he did not have transportation. The HR person, for some reason, asked both of us to interview [having heard I was an engineer too].
“I was dumbfounded and a little nervous as I was not prepared. I had to download my resume from my yahoo ID quickly… I thought, what have I got to lose? It’s a good engineering job with a large real estate company.”
He got the job and continues to seize practically every opportunity before him, growing from each one. Today at SCS, Kundral oversees several redevelopment projects, including a 500-acre landfill conversion to a large business park, which received the American Council of Engineering-Florida and the Environmental Business Journal awards.
“The landfill had a lot of environmental and geotechnical issues, with the largest ones around groundwater contamination and stormwater management. They are typical redevelopment challenges we need to overcome, and in this case, they were on a larger scale,” he says.
As the intricate strategy evolved, Kundral, working with his project advisor, Senior Vice President Eddy Smith, called many multidiscipline group huddles. Kundral has assessed, reassessed, stopped, and restarted. And he has brought in more engineers to pump up the team’s expertise and take this project to the next level.
“We are now halfway through. And I tell you, I don’t think I should have gray hair yet, but I have some now. Still, I feel so relieved because we have the formula to make this work. “We did it by integrating the groundwater and stormwater management systems,” he says.
The integration resolves two big issues: It, of course, addresses groundwater contamination. But Kundral and the team also want to maximize areas for redevelopment, and the design supports this goal as it eliminates the need for stormwater ponds.
To him, the job is as much about open communication and teamwork as technical talent.
“At the end of the day, no matter what we do, we deal with people. I believe in staying in front of our clients, explaining what to expect when, and I continually engage with staff who support me.” With this business park conversion, as they dove deeper, they saw more intricacies. “It was important to help our client see we were not simply trying to catch up; for them to understand we had to give more time and attention to do the job as best as it can be done.”
From age 28, when he came to SCS, Kundral was keenly aware that there was potential to do plenty and wanted to take on more. “I’m just curious to see what I can get into,” he says. He began with smaller projects, each with one or two focuses. Little by little, he could connect more dots. “I could start to see the big picture and wanted to know more about how to pull the whole project together,” he says.
While he mostly oversees redevelopment projects, he has also supported industrial waste permitting and compliance reporting endeavors. He describes the latter projects as straightforward.
“I prefer the more involved brownfields projects; there is more to learn when overseeing the work. Each site is unique, with different challenges. And each time, what you discover and how you approach it is different.”
Doing the work he loves has come with tradeoffs, such as giving up kayaking and cutting back on trips to the beach—once his favorite pastimes. “They’re fun, but they are day- and night-long ventures. By the time I got home, Saturday was gone. And I needed to catch up on work emails at night and plan for the next week.”
He does find a few hours some weekends for another interest—photography—heading to the zoo or state parks with his wife, Anjana, who shares his passion for watching out for a good “Kodak moment” and capturing it.
Nevertheless, figuring out how to fix problems is still his greatest passion, further maturing from experience. When asked if he could be someone else for a day, who that would be, he thought for a while, then said: “I would love to be myself again but be able to watch as a third person and make note of the scope of improvements I have made over time. From that, perhaps I can learn even more.”
Kundral speaks of three people who helped shape him: his grandfather, father, and father-in-law.
“Growing up watching my grandfather’s resilience helped me learn how to manage hard situations.
From my father, I learned to view situations in ways to understand people better. This has helped shape my thoughts to improve my communication.
From my father-in-law, I learned the importance of humor and gained a sense of humor. This is a good thing for lightening up situations and reducing stress.”
Kundral will take on challenges because it’s part of getting to the end goal. And reaching that goal is what sparks him. He goes back to the 500-acre Florida brownfield to illustrate. “This property is being converted to a business park with great companies operating there, like Home Depot and Boeing. So, our client is creating a legacy. The project creates jobs. It brings in taxes. It improves environmental conditions. We are part of it, and that excites me.”
Kundral is in good company. These other SCS Young Professionals are past 40 Under 40 Award recipients. Like Kundral, they work diligently, solving an array of complicated solid waste challenges. SCS Engineers is very proud of our YP’s award-winning accomplishments for their clients and their contributions to their communities’ health and welfare.
Steve Linehan is a Senior Project Manager who oversees solid waste and environmental services projects from SCS’s Oklahoma City and Wichita offices. Linehan has a broad range of expertise, including solid and hazardous waste regulations, landfill design, stormwater modeling design, and remedial action plans. He holds professional engineering licenses in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.
Srividhya (Vidhya) Viswanathan, Vice President, is recognized for her innovative engineering plans and designs of traditional solid waste and renewable energy programs. Viswanathan, Southwest Director of Engineering, continues consolidating and integrating engineering operations to provide more streamlined and efficient services. She leads solid waste engineering operations in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and New Mexico.
Solavann (Sol) Sim, a Project Director and OM&M Western Regional Manager for SCS Field Services, has expertise in all facets of landfill operations, including landfill gas and liquids management. His teams keep landfills safer and running within compliance. He is a licensed professional engineer in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, and Utah.
David P. Hostetter, Business Manager for SCS RMC® (Remote Monitoring and Controls), works in environmental engineering and technology. He serves clients by leveraging technology to reduce business and industry environmental impacts. His environmental solutions reduce potential greenhouse gas emissions and lower environmental risk from landfills, thus protecting workers and local communities.
On July 7, 2020, the City of Brownsville Commission approved a recommendation by the Engineering and Public Works Department to continue an existing multi-year partnership with SCS Engineers. SCS is an environmental consulting and contracting firm that will serve the City for an additional five years. The environmental contracts support the Landfill Gas Collection and Control System (GCCS) expansion and provide landfill engineering, compliance, monitoring and operations assistance.
Project Director, J. Roy Murray, an SCS vice president, and the team’s principal consulting engineer will continue to serve the City’s citizens and staff. Mr. Murray has decades of experience in civil and environmental permitting, design, and construction at municipal solid waste landfills (MSW), including 20 years serving the Brownsville Landfill. Mr. Murray states:
The City staff and Commission continues to entrust SCS Engineers to help the landfill staff with the safe, efficient, and compliant operation of the landfill. We are honored by their trust. The City of Brownsville MSW Landfill Operations team serves the City well. The facility is the primary solid waste disposal site for surrounding communities, carefully engineered and maintained regularly even during severe weather and now a pandemic. The forethought of the Landfill Division, their leadership, and innovative practices provide the citizens with stellar services while protecting the environment.
The initial installation of the City Landfill’s Gas Collection and Control System (GCCS) completed in 2011, was part of an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant the City received from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. SCS Engineers assisted with the application process, and as a result of the collaboration, the City received a $1.7 million grant to install a landfill gas collection system at the landfill. With GCCS operation, the City has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions. The landfill infrastructure and emission reductions were voluntary at the time, but the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Air Quality rules and regulations, and EPA’s New Source Performance Standards, now require them.
The Gas Collection and Control System consists of 16 landfill gas extraction wells and currently provides coverage of 32 acres of the City Landfill’s disposal footprint. The City plans to expand the GCCS during 2021, to support landfill’s growth and stricter air permit regulations. The expansion includes 38 additional wells covering 120 acres of the landfill footprint. The new wells will integrate with the collection system and integrate with liquids management, leachate control, and stormwater systems, among others.
About SCS Engineers
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