Wednesday, December 9th, 2015


Two Engineers Join catena’s Growing Team

by Kate Rurik

Nikki Chinprapinporn completed her master’s degree in structural engineering from The University of Texas at Austin.  Originally from Bangkok, Thailand, she spent most of her undergraduate summers designing and building concrete bridges for the rural communities of Thailand.  Every summer, she and the Volunteer Engineering Students Club at Chulalongkorn University left the city and spent several months tying up rebar and assisting with the construction of concrete formwork for these bridges.

Her interest for structural engineering took place several years earlier while studying abroad in Europe in high school.  “The entire time I was there I kept looking at the buildings,” recalls Nikki.  “And my questions were, “How did they build it? What materials did they use? And how did they make it stand for hundreds of years?”

At catena, she is already designing several projects, including a new building for Legacy Emanuel Medical Center and a retrofit for Corbett Middle School and the Legacy Holladay Park Unity project.

Nikki is acclimating to the Pacific NW climate and is adding to her collection of warm layers and cozy sweaters after spending the last few years in Texas.  She savors several authentic Thai restaurants tucked in downtown Portland and is fond of any opportunity to capture a moment with candid photography.


Eric Heidebrecht grew up in the small town of Cambridge, WI, just outside Madison.  He attended University of Wisconsin – Madison for both his undergraduate and graduate studies.  For his master’s thesis, Eric designed and modeled a series of single panel walls and tested their resilience in tornadic wind events.  To accomplish this, he shot 2x4s at each wall panel at one hundred miles per hour using an air-compressed cannon.  He evaluated the walls with a pass or fail ranking in the following three categories: the deformation of the wall, the generation of debris, and any visible piercing of the wall.  His experiments proved that interlocking 2x8s in multiple layers withstood wind forces far better than other methods.

He is excited to see his thesis efforts furthering structural engineering for disaster relief, and is bringing his enthusiasm to catena to design safe structures.  Brand new to the team, he is working on EMPAR NW Apartments and a utility trestle for a high tech manufacturer, and is excited to expand his knowledge of truss systems.

On the weekends, Eric explores Portland’s vivid and distinct neighborhoods and brews by bicycle.  Providence Park’s thundering atmosphere during a Timber’s game is quickly becoming a regular attraction as well.

Leave a Reply