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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 demolition.
  • 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.












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