Engineer of the Year Awards

Delaware Engineering Society Announces Young Engineer of the Year, Government Engineer of the Year and Engineer of the Year for 2024

>> Read a press release.

The Delaware Engineering Society (NSPE-DE) is excited to announce the 2024 Delaware Young Engineer of the Year, Government Engineer of the Year, and Engineer of the Year. The awards are nominated by those in the engineering industry in the State of Delaware and are selected by the past presidents of NSPE-DE. This year’s award winners are D. Preston Lee, Jr., P.E. (Ret) (Engineer of the Year), Shante Hastings, P.E. (Government Engineer of the Year) and Breanna Kovach, P.E. (Young Engineer of the Year).

2024 Engineer of the Year

D. Preston Lee, Jr., P.E. (Ret)

D. Preston Lee, Jr., P.E. - 2024 Engineer of the Year

D. Preston Lee, P.E. (Ret) is a native Delawarean and has lived and practiced in the state his entire career. He presently lives in the historic town of Lewes with Linda, his wife of 55 years. He attended Salesianum High School and earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering in 1969 from the University of Delaware.

After graduating, Mr. Lee worked for the Delaware Water and Air Resources Commission (DWARC) and later at the consulting engineering firm VanDemark & Lynch, Inc. (V&L), where he reviewed permit applications and worked on utility design. He then joined Edward H. Richarson Associates, focusing on designing water and wastewater facilities in multiple states, obtaining engineering licenses along the way. In 1975, he co-founded Tatman & Lee Associates, which became a successful civil engineering firm known for innovative wastewater treatment systems. After several accolades, the firm was acquired by Woodward-Clyde Consultants and later by URS Corporation, where Mr. Lee served as Vice President. He semi-retired in 2001 to focus on project management and engineering through his own business, notably managing the Southern Sewer Service Area Project for New Castle County.

He served 15 years as Board member of the American Consulting Engineers Council (ACEC) Delaware Chapter, now known as the American Council of Engineer Companies, including two terms as Chapter President and two terms as National Director. For several years, he served on the Delaware Association of Professional Engineers’ Law Enforcement and Ethics Committee. He has also remained a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) for the past 56 years.

In 2011 he was elected to the City of Lewes Board of Public Works. He has served in various positions on the Board, including 4 years as Board President. Since 2004, he has served as a Trustee and Property Committee Chairman of the Children’s Beach House Foundation in Lewes. The Foundation was established in the1936 by Lydia Chichester DuPont “to serve children with special needs”. Over the past twenty years, Pres has also served 8 years on the City of Lewes Parks and Recreation Commission, Lewes Historical Society Board of Trustees, and the Lightship Overfalls Foundation Board of Directors.

2024 Government Engineer of the Year

Shanté A. Hastings, P.E.

Shanté Hastings

Shanté Hastings is the Deputy Secretary and Chief Engineer for the Delaware Department of Transportation, where she has worked since graduating from the University of Delaware in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering. As Chief Engineer Shanté is responsible for implementation of the Department’s over $600 million annual Capital Transportation Program. She is also involved with personnel management, legislation and national transportation policy in her role as Deputy Secretary. Shanté currently serves as the Chair of AASHTO Innovation Management, Chair of AASHTO Committee on Design and Vice Chair of the AASHTO Committee on Transportation System Operations.

In 2013, Shanté was awarded the Young Engineer of the Year Award by the Delaware Engineering Society in recognition of her work in the field of engineering and community service. She serves on the boards for the University of Delaware Kent and Sussex Alumni Club, Delaware State Fair, the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation and Sussex Academy Charter School. Shanté is also a proud member of Sigma Kappa Sorority and has stayed active as a chapter advisor. She also enjoys singing in the Grace United Methodist Church Praise Band. Shanté her husband Jason are the proud parents of their daughters Lilly and Maya and spend many nights and weekends cheering them on at volleyball and soccer.

2024 Young Engineer of the Year

Breanna Kovach, P.E.

Breanna Kovach, P.E.

Breanna Kovach is a Group Engineer with the Project Development North section at the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT). She graduated with honors from Temple University with her BS in Civil Engineering in 2011 and began her career at DelDOT working as a project engineer, designing road projects. In 2016, Breanna became a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Delaware and was promoted to a Project Manager. She later obtained her MBA from Wilmington University with a concentration in Organizational Leadership and was promoted to a Group Engineer in 2018.

During her 12+ years at DelDOT, Breanna received DelDOT’s “You Make a Difference” awards in 2014 and 2017. She also participated in DelDOT’s Leadership Academy in May 2017. Breanna is responsible for a program management of capital projects in New Castle County. She is responsible for leading and directing a team of project managers and engineers in developing plans, specifications, and estimates for transportation improvement projects. Some noteworthy projects that Breanna has managed include the SR 72/SR1 Diverging Diamond Interchange, the Claymont Transportation Center and the I-95 and SR 896 Interchange as well as the US 40 and SR 896 Interchange, the US 40 Widening from Salem Church Road to Walther Rad, and the SR 1 Widening program from Road A to Tybouts Corner.

Breanna served on the Board of Directors for the American Society of Highway Engineers, First State Section from 2018-2023, serving as President from June 2021-June 2022. Breanna enjoys being an active participant in the engineering community and loves taking on new projects that continue to challenge her. Outside of work, Breanna enjoys spending time with her husband and children.

2022 Engineer of the Year

Holly Rybinski, P.E.

Holly Rybinski, P.E.
Holly Rybinski is a Professional Traffic Operations Engineer and a licensed Professional Engineer in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. She was first inspired to pursue traffic engineering at the University of Delaware. She further developed her academic roots at the University of California at Berkeley, where she had a small role in shaping the architecture of US intelligent transportation systems (ITS).

Holly founded Rybinski Engineering ten years ago. The company’s mission is to create safe, efficient, and sustainable transportation solutions by fostering an exceptional environment for its team of experts to perform at their best. Her persistence and assertiveness in helping teams achieve project goals – as well as her dedication to animal rescue – took form in her company’s logo, which shows a bird dog on point. Holly's fascination with team building and professional relationships has built a unique work environment at Rybinski Engineering. Employees work from home, enjoying a shorter work week and a flexible work schedule.

For more than ten years, Holly developed and taught traffic and ITS course material for the University of Delaware. She has continued to teach as a consultant for DelDOT’s Transportation Management Center. In recognition of her academic influence, Holly was awarded the 2018 Outstanding Alumni Award by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UD.

Holly enjoys working on all stages of projects, from research to planning to design, construction, and operations. She has served as traffic engineer and/or project manager for dozens of engineering projects in Delaware, including some of the state’s first roundabouts on Choptank Road in southern New Castle County, traffic studies in all three counties—multiple times in the past 20 years—and helping the City of Wilmington and DelDOT manage traffic during the I-95 Restore the Corridor project that is currently under construction. Today, as Rybinski Engineering’s President and CEO, she still enjoys contributing her technical expertise to solving transportation challenges.

2022 Young Engineer of the Year

Nicholas Dean, P.E.

Nicholas Dean, P.E.
Nicholas Dean is a Project Engineer with the Bridge Design section at the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT). Nick was born and raised in Frederica, Delaware and graduated from Polytech High School in 2005. Nick earned both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Civil Engineering from the University of Delaware in 2010 and 2018, respectively. He has been a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Delaware since 2016.

Nick began his career at DelDOT in 2012 as a Project Engineer in the Bridge Design group. He was promoted to the position of Supervising Engineer in 2018, where he led a group of engineers and consultants from project initiation through project completion. In 2021, Nick elected to return to the role of Project Engineer to pursue his passion for design.

At DelDOT, Nick has been instrumental in advancing the Department’s Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) program and ensuring that Delaware is at the forefront of innovation. Nick was the lead designer on Bridge 1-438 in New Castle County, Delaware’s first all-prefabricated bridge. This project utilized precast bridge elements and Ultra High Performance Concrete (UHPC) joints to accelerate the construction timeline from the typical 75 days to 31 days; it also employed Delaware’s first, and the nation’s second, application of a UHPC overlay. In addition, Nick was the lead designer of one of two overpasses replaced as part of the I-95/SR-141 Interchange Project, where the Department employed precast columns and pier caps, and prefabricated steel superstructure modules, which resulted in a time savings of over 250 bridge construction days. Currently, Nick is managing a CM/GC project involving a proposed lateral bridge slide, and he is also the lead designer on a bridge replacement project involving Delaware’s first fully precast approach slab, precast sleeper slab, and precast deck bulb tee beam. Because of his work with innovative ABC techniques, Nick has been invited to present papers at conferences like the National Accelerated Bridge Construction Conference, International Bridge Conference, International Interactive Symposium on UHPC, and the World Steel Bridge Symposium.

2021 Engineer of the Year

Scott Rathfon, P.E.

Scott Rathfon, P.E.

Scott Rathfon, P.E. is a Professional Engineer licensed in multiple states throughout the mid-Atlantic region. He has over 40 years of comprehensive engineering experience in various areas of the civil engineering field as well as project and program management. Scott has been employed by Century Engineering in the Delaware office for over 33 years and has been involved in numerous projects throughout the State.

Scott grew up in the Georgetown, Delaware area and graduated high school from Sussex Central High School in Georgetown. He received an Associate in Applied Science degree from Delaware Technical and Community College (Owen’s Campus) in Architectural Engineering Technology. He then attended Pennsylvania State University (Harrisburg Campus) where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Structural Design and Construction Engineering Technology. While working in Virginia, he went on to receive a Master of Engineering degree in Civil Engineering from Old Dominion University.

In addition to the lifelong learning that goes along with being an engineer, Scott also successfully completed the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Senior Executives Institute program. This is an intensive leadership training program that spans over 18 months and includes leaders of Engineering firms throughout the US.

Scott began his engineering career working for Perdue Farms in Salisbury, Maryland as a Field Engineer Intern responsible for various facility improvements. After one year at Perdue Farms, he learned about some amazing work opportunities at Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia through several of his college roommates that went there right after graduation. Scott and his wife Lynn (married between his Junior and Senior year in college) decided to uproot from Delaware and give Newport News, Virginia a try. He took a position with Newport News Shipbuilding in the Piers and Drydocks Division as a construction inspector and quickly rose through the ranks to become a Project Engineer. He was involved in several large design and construction projects improving the facilities around the Shipyard.

2021 Young Engineer of the Year

Jennalee Fede, P.E.

Jennalee Fede, P.E.

A University of Delaware graduate who obtained her BS in Environmental Engineering in May 2011. She has worked for Duffield Associates for over 10 years and began as an intern back in May 2010. Currently a project manager in Duffield’s Environmental Division, she splits her time between the Wilmington, DE and Philadelphia, PA offices. She has worked on various projects throughout the Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey, involving environmental investigations, permitting, remediation, and regulatory compliance for various residential, commercial, and industrial sites. Her clients have varied from private developers and realtors to government and utility companies. She takes pride in each project she works on, looking to provide value to her client while also making a positive impact on her community.

She is active in various professional organizations, secretary of the Delaware Section of the American Water Resource Association (DEAWRA) and active member of the Society of Women Environmental Professionals (SWEP), Delaware Real Estate Women (DREW), and the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (PDE).

She is also active in her community, participating in the Christina River Cleanup (15+ years), Adopt-A-Highway Cleanup (8+ years), and various food and clothing drives. She has also assisted the Delaware Association of Professional Engineers (DAPE) with mentoring and presentations regarding the importance of professional licensure to undergraduate future engineers attending the University of Delaware.

In the past few years, Jennalee has dedicated herself to Duffield and her environmental team, working to improve internal and cross-division communications and furthering professional advancement of her staff and peers through education and creating new professional pathways.

She is always looking for a new project to challenge her and hopes to serve as a role model to other engineers and women in scientific fields.

2020 Engineer of the Year

Ted C Williams

Ted C. Williams, PE, FACEC has been selected as the 2020 Engineer of the Year. Mr. Williams serves as President of Landmark Science & Engineering, a multidisciplinary site/civil and environmental sciences consulting firm. He has 43 years of comprehensive experience with land development, transportation and traffic studies for large mixed-use construction projects. Ted is heavily involved in technical and professional organizations representing the Delaware engineering community. Some of the organizations where Mr. Williams currently serves is ACEC Delaware where he is the New Castle County Partnering Chair, Delaware Council on Transportation where he is Chair, and Committee of 100 where he is President. Mr. Williams has been a tireless advocate for engineering and business within the State of Delaware and nationally through these organizations. He is well known throughout Delaware’s State and Local Legislatures, Councils, and agencies for his support of improving Delaware’s Infrastructure. He has also been involved in the broader community of Delaware through activities such as coaching and advocating for STEM-based education for all of Delaware’s middle and high school students. He has been a dedicated advocate for efficiency in public school construction projects and has been instrumental in developing a model for future school development based on a full-school campus design.

2020 Young Engineer of the Year

Chris Brendza

Mr. Brendza graduated from the University of Delaware with a BS in Civil Engineering in 2008. Shortly after graduation he began working in the field of water and wastewater engineering for Hydraterra Professionals in Chester County PA. At Hydraterra Professionals he spent the majority of his time performing construction inspection and design services for wastewater and drinking water facilities.

In 2013, Mr. Brendza began his career at Johnson Mirmiran and Thompson in their water and wastewater group. During his time at JMT he has worked for various government agencies and utilities throughout Delaware such as City of Newark, New Castle County, and Kent County.

Chris has also led various design projects regional authorities and government agencies in Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey. Outside of work, he enjoys spending time with his wife and children, and volunteering in his community.