Civil Engineer of the Year 2008-2009 by the SC Section of the American Society of
Civil Engineers - Chimin (Jimmy) Chao
Chimin (Jimmy) Chao named Civil Engineer
of the Year 2008-2009 by the SC Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Mr. Chao completed the Master of Science in Civil Engineering from the University
of South Carolina in 1983 and was enrolled in the PhD program.
He is a licensed Professional Engineer in the State of South Carolina, North Carolina,
Virginia, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Alabama, Florida and Texas. He is also a licensed
Building Inspector and has passed the General Contractor exam. He is founder, sole
owner and President of Chao and Associates, an engineering firm specializing in
Civil and Structural Engineering and Land Surveying. Chao was established in 1987.
The firm currently has 17 staff members including nine engineers. He worked for
LPA group and Wilbur Smith Associates before he opened up his own practice. Chao
has been the Open-end structural/civil consultant for the South Carolina Department
of Corrections and the Medical University of South Carolina. CHAO is currently the
on-call Civil/Structural consultant for the South Carolina Department of Transportation,
the University of South Carolina, the State University of South Carolina, Francis
Marion University, Trident Technical College, Central Technical College, the City
of Columbia and Richland County School District One.
He has served as President of the National Society of Professional Engineers, Columbia
Chapter. He was the Chairman of the Structural Technical Group of the American Society
of Civil Engineers. The Highway 17 Bridge over the Ashley River Rehabilitation Project,
on which he served as the project engineer, won the Engineering Excellence Award
from the Consulting Engineers of South Carolina. The SC277, James Clyburn Pedestrian
Bridge Project, on which he served as Project Manager, won the Pinnacle Award from
the Carolinas AGC. He was contacted by the SC Board to take the pilot PE exam again,
with multiple choice, in 1987, after he passed his PE exam the first time in 1987
and scored the second highest score in the state. He is known for his technical
competence and creative solutions. Many of the projects he designed are considered
state of the art engineering approach:
- 1. USC Coliseum Ice Hockey/Basketball Court conversion: Inferno was sharing the
Coliseum with the USC basketball team before the Colonial Center was built. The
Court had to be converted back and forth to accommodate two events. Jimmy overcame
the design challenge so that the wheels of the basketball viewing stands would not
stick to the ice. It was reported by the manager of Inferno that there was no precedence
for this approach.
- 2. Confederate Printing Plant/Publix Rehabilitation: Jimmy had successfully designed
this re-adaptation project by removing the second floor and one side of a load bearing
wall completely, while other consultants deemed the structure was unsafe and required
- 3. Hunting Island Light House Spiral Stair Repair: This historical structure was
built circa 1890. The cast iron stair steps had suddenly broken in half. Jimmy discovered
that the breakage was due to metal fatigue accelerated by exposure to the hostile
ocean front environment. He designed a modular repair system that clearly depicted
the repair parts and saved considerable cost by eliminating the need for expensive
scaffolding inside the light house.
He is on the Board of Directors for First Community Bank. FCB has eleven branches
and serves the Midland area of South Carolina. He is a Rotarian in the Five Points
Club and served as Director of the International Services and Vocational Services.
He has also served on the Board of Carolina Sunshine for Children since 1996. Carolina
Sunshine is a charity organization that grants wishes for children with life threatening
illnesses. All the expenses are paid out of pocket by the board of directors. 100
% of the money raised is going toward the kids. Carolina Sunshine was on the “Angel”
list published by the Secretary of the State (South Carolina). He is currently on
the Board of Cultural Council of Richland and Lexington Counties, and the Friends
of the Library of Richland County.
Mr. Chao has established his own scholarship at the University of South Carolina,
an award for minority students interested in Structural Engineering.