All Press Releases for September 12, 2023

Robert J. Mahoney, P.E., Recognized for Excellence in Engineering

Mr. Mahoney was noted as the first college graduate in his family

    MILTON, PA, September 12, 2023 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Robert J. Mahoney, P.E. has been included in Marquis Who's Who. As in all Marquis Who's Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are all taken into account during the selection process.

Those who have known Mr. Mahoney (Bob) will say he is a storyteller. His legacy statement follows which starts with his career and education prior to 1983. This involved various phases in the construction or design of over 10 nuclear power plants while engaged in other engineering endeavors. Next are reflections on his childhood as well as an introduction to his understanding of "The Hand of God." This is followed by his employment at the NYC Transit Authority (TA) which encompassed almost 20 years of conflicts, resolutions and stalemates in an ever-changing field of issues involving both the Authority of a Licensed Engineer and the widespread malpractice of engineering within the TA. Finally, there are some additional reflections on "The Hand of God."

Career Prior to 1983
Prior to his senior year in 1967 Mr. Mahoney was missing about 20 credits including a couple of required courses for his BSME from the University of Washington (UW), so he enrolled in courses with the eight graduating physics majors, one of whom was a boyhood friend from junior high school. The courses were in Quantum Mechanics and Particle Physics along with a couple of required graduate-level math courses, taken from the Engineering Department. Three deans were required to sign off on this endeavor. They were from the Departments of Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Physics with one dean stating, "If you're crazy enough to make this request in your senior year, I'm crazy enough to sign it."

Bob graduated in 1968 with a BS in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Washington and would later take additional night courses in Control Theory and Stochastic Filtering from the University of Pennsylvania in 1970. Several years later, he was told that his science and math courses in Quantum Mechanics and graduate level math were the final that are required for a PhD major in Nuclear Engineering. He earned his engineering license from New York State in 1974.

His employment includes Project Engineer, NPS Engineers & Constructors, Secaucus, NJ (1982-1983); Senior Mechanical and Facilities Engineer, Gibbs & Hill, NYC (1978-1982); Power Engineer, Stone & Webster Corp. NYC (1977-1978); Project Engineer, Energy Engineering, Jersey City, NJ (1976); Project Engineer, Geiringer Associates, NYC (1976); Senior Piping Engineer, PSE&G Newark, NJ (1974-1976); Lead I&C Engineer and Mechanical Engineer, Ebasco Services, NYC (1972-1974); Mechanical Engineer, Gilbert Associates, Reading, PA (1969-1971); Field Engineer, Westinghouse Atomic Power Division, Pittsburgh, PA (1968-1969); summer jobs in Seattle (1964-1968) including Piping Designer and apprentice pipe-fitter Lockheed Shipbuilding & Construction Co., helper Boeing.

Among Bob's assignments were the redesign of a French/German design using DIN standards on a large fossil utility complex in Turkey and the design of a very large complex in Saudi Arabia. In 1980 he was granted a Top Secret Clearance(Q), for work on Pantex Outside of Amarillo, TX. This in addition to his work on over 10 nuclear power plants.

The consequence of working at many companies resulted in a multi-disciplinary skill set. His tasks include development/co-development of reports to management concerning inter-departmental liaison, schedules and budget overruns; team/project workforce liaison and coordination; cost control and budget development; adept at all phases of managerial responsibility, troubleshooting and conflict resolution; scopes, cost estimates, manpower requirements, specifications and the definition of interfaces and problem areas. Experience includes project estimates, evaluations, schedules and CPM's, contract administration, cost control and monitoring; development of software and application of computer methods. His strong background in mathematics and physics enabled him to develop and/or utilize computer software and to set up solutions to analytical problems.

At times, Human Resources would ask him to review a list of candidates for hire and to make recommendations. Bob broke the list into three categories. First were young engineers, some with several years of experience, second were foreign born engineers most with 10 or more years of experience and third would be senior engineers from other fields such the aerospace, automotive, steel fabrication, petrochemical etc. - all having over 15 years of experience and having served in some kind of leadership capacity. His interviews were generally from the third group. Bob was asked why the interest in "over the hill group"? He would reply that by hiring an "over the hill" gentleman they would trade sea tales. He would learn and understand the new hire's industry and design methodology and he would explain his - the utility industry. The result, in less than three months the new hire would be doing inter-department liaison, working with venders and subcontractors and within six months he would be interfacing with the client. This generally wasn't possible with candidates from the other 2 categories. Mr. Mahoney was fully aware the collapsing American esprit de corp within his engineering profession but also among workers generally. This esprit de corp apparently developed during the 30's depression, WW II and the 50's. Bob remembers a friend stating "In the depression everyone had nothing and everyone shared the little they had."

Reflections on Childhood and The Hand of God
On a more personal note, reading and writing were very troublesome all during Mr. Mahoney's school years including those at the UW. Apparently at the age of two he was in a coma for several days and not expected to live. Although he remembers a playful and fun childhood, he also remembers it as if passing through a fog where he had to relearn everything over the years. His prayer was for understanding and knowledge. His family moved from their cold water flat where the Space Needle is now into a new home, just built, overlooking Lake Union. His grade school records limited his opportunities.

Prior to starting 8th grade, his family moved into their grandfather's house. However, Bob was placed in the advanced algebra class along with two others because of class overcrowding and his delayed school records. He was determined to not go back and even took a summer course in Chemistry while in junior high. This chemistry teacher would later be assigned to a new high school, Ingraham High, built adjoining his grandfather's property and he took Bob under his wing. All this resulted in Calculus in his junior year and Advanced Calculus and Differential Equations at night at the University of Washington in his senior year of high school.

Family stories also reflect his belief in "The Hand of God." His grandfather on his mother's side, Frank Passler, born in 1895 in Croatia, was originally booked on the Titanic in 1912 but had to rebook for reasons unknown. He ultimately arrived in New York City illegally and ended up marrying Mr. Mahoney's grandmother in St. Paul. Together, they had six children. In the 1930's, his grandmother came down with cancer. Her daughter Mary and son Paul (about 7 & 8 years old) were waiting for mass prior to their classes. According to Mary, as they prayed, a priest and nun walked down the aisle. Both agreed to a religious life as a nun and priest. Their mother's cancer disappeared, but a month later Paul died. Apparently, he had offered his life to Christ for their mother. After all this, Bob's grandmother gave birth to her sixth child. Due to the depression both Mary and Bob's mother left school after the 8th grade to work as domestic servants in St. Paul.

Bob's grandmothers' cancer would however return in the 1950's while he prepared for first communion. They prayed the rosary every day and she would tell him stories about the saints. When Bob and Mildred his wife were visiting Sister Phoebe (Mary) his Benediction Aunt at St. Placid's Priory in Lacy WA, the story about his uncle Paul was confirmed. They ended up having dinner with Sr. Phoebe and most of other nuns within her convent and exchanging stories. It turns out one of the nuns had been their teacher in St Paul (Mary and Paul) and had some relics of Paul (some small toys from his desk). Why this nun moved from St. Paul to this convent in Lacy Washington or why this was the first time she heard the story that Paul had offered himself for his mother or why this was first time Sr. Phoebe heard about Paul's relics only adds to this story. Sister Phoebe taught for more than 40 years and became well-known internationally for various types of poetry. She was even selected by Washington state as its "Centennial Poet."

Life in the NYC Transit and Civil Service
In 1983 until retirement in 2007 Mr. Mahoney worked as a Professional Engineer (PE) in the NYC Transit Authority (TA). Although he took a 30% cut in pay, Uncle Sam and Governor Cuomo made up the difference. Social Security and Medicare ended around $32,000 but pre-Reagan federal taxes were 45% and NY State and City taxes were 18% after $34,000. In addition, Bob had free transportation, a 35-hour work week, and vacation starting at 4 weeks after the first year growing into 8 weeks after 15 years.

Within a year, a major reorganization was undertaken by Governor Cuomo for both The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the Transit Authority (TA), involving billions of dollars from the Feds. During Mr. Mahoney's growth in the Queens Chapter of the New York State Society of Professional Engineers (NYSSPE), he witnessed the destruction of the Buildings Department and Board of Education's Engineering Departments via massive layoffs. Their union, the Technical Guild (TG), was unresponsive. The city chapters for both the Architects and PEs strongly objected but to no avail. The chief engineer of the Queens Buildings Department had to resign to protect his 30+ year pension. Upon review, not only was he responsible for the upgrading of NYC's renown code, but his reputation was beyond reproach. He went into civil service after the union's attempt to organize the engineers at Ebasco in 1947. The Union-led strike failed. Everyone involved in this strike was blackballed.

Mr. Mahoney's father, a steamfitter, understood union politics from the local level to national and international levels. For the working man, the union represents the restriction of trade. In the Seattle area, his local limited membership to about 3000 when the shipyards were open. The union during the 40s and 50s brought in health and welfare, overtime, pensions, holidays and vacation for its members. His executive board worked with the other trades and ensured all construction was union. At the national and international levels, the union embraces many socialistic policies, most of which are unconstitutional.

Bob's union president was both a personal friend and a PE. They had served on several state and national committees within NSPE. As such, an active union membership resulted. What followed was almost 20 years of conflicts, resolutions and stalemates in an ever-changing field of issues within the TA, TG, NYSSPE, Office of Professional Discipline (OPD), Governor Cuomo's office and finally numerous NYS legislative committees. It involved the malpractice of engineering, the Authority of the Licensed Engineer and Transit Workers Union's (TWU) strike of 1967. During this strike, the TG had crossed the TWU's picket lines. After the strike, all the TA's other departments began usurping the central engineering function.

Core to the TA reorganization was the gutting of management, including central engineering - i.e. the elimination of institutional memory. Within months, engineering management was gone. What resulted across the TA was the widespread malpractice of engineering. Mr. Mahoney, as president of the Queens Chapter, referred this matter to the OPD and was supported by all of the city chapters, by the NYSSPE, by the TG and their mother union - 250,000 members. The engineering board of the OPD developed many confidential reports. The first was a 45-page report, which recommended the discharge of the TA president and several of its senior vice presidents. A three-page final report vindicated all of the managers and was the only report ever issued after four years. However, Bob's follow union members continued working during this reorganization.

As an aside, Bob's wife, Mildred, also worked from 1983 until retirement in 2007 for TA in the Division of Car Equipment in their Overhaul Subdivision which consist of 15 barns and two shops. Although Bob spent about 4 months overseeing the final details of an $80 million rehab of the Coney Island Shop in a trailer next to the Administration Building where Mildred worked, they never met. They met at a Right to Life fundraiser in 1991 and were married in 1992. Mildred also witnessed major changes resulting from this reorganization. During her first seven years she saw the number of employees go from 3200 to 1200 employees at the Coney Island Shop. Mildred was privileged to win a number of awards, one of which was from the Overhaul Shops where she was awarded for Professional and Technical Excellence in 2005.

Final reflections "The Hand of God"
In 1976, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla stated at the UN, "We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of divine Providence; it is trial which the whole Church, and the Polish Church in particular, must take up. It is a trial of not only our nation and the Church, but, in a sense, a test of 2,000 years of culture and Christian civilization with all of its consequences for human dignity, individual rights, human rights and the rights of nations." This statement awakened Mr. Mahoney's spiritual senses and also a forgotten belief in the hand of God overseeing his responses to life. Family stories also reflect this belief. It is Bob's belief that today's spiritual warfare is the same that Card. Wojtyla addressed in 1976 and that the Rosary is our prime defense. Cardinal Wojtyla is better known as Pope John Paul II.

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