Paving the way: How firms like
CP&Y make Oklahoma better
Roads and bridges, buildings and municipal systems: the work engineers do behind the scenes keeps Oklahomans safe. Ensuring public safety and planning for the future is the unwritten part of their job description.
David Neuhauser, vice president of engineering and architectural consulting firm CP&Y, oversees project management, including roadway reconstruction and bridge replacement. His team of engineers works throughout the state with leading agencies like the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority as well as in partnership with municipalities on city proposals. Planning reliable systems our communities depend on day in and day out is all in a day’s work for Neuhauser and his team.
“What we want is for nobody to think about us because everything’s great,” said Neuhauser of the vital but lesser known role of firms like his when it comes to the daily function of essential systems. “We are in the background but a talented team of professionals has put in that quality and attention to detail so everything keeps running smoothly. That’s the goal.”
Dallas-based engineering and architectural consulting firm CP&Y opened its Oklahoma City office in 1998, one of several satellite offices in other states. The firm was recently acquired by New York’s STV, Inc.
“Mergers and acquisitions are happening quickly. We got bought out in October 2021. Nationwide, the company had 450 people before but CP&Y was purchased with one by over 2,000 employees,” said Neuhauser. “Oklahoma has some good work going about to get started with the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Sharing technologies and expertise is a positive within our field and having bigger firms with a local presence is important here. Qualifications-based selection allows for the best firm with the most expertise to get the job awarded, not just the one with the cheapest bid, which ultimately serves public interest going back to safety and return on investment.”
A graduate of Purdue University’s renowned College of Engineering, David sees the value in collaboration. CP&Y has transferred professionals from other states and hired Oklahoma graduates to round out its staff of more than 20.
“When we first started growing the Oklahoma team in 2009, ODOT was adamant work would be done by local staff. As part of our process, we have shown the size of our offices now, demonstrating state-specific knowledge, continual work and job growth, said Neuhauser. “We’ve brought in people from out of state but also hired new grads from OU and OSU. A lot of that revenue stays here and is good for Oklahoma. At CP&Y, we’re fully autonomous and can do everything here in Oklahoma without relying on support from other states for the most part. When we need to, we can pull on that expertise but also reach out to other qualified engineers, which sets us apart and makes us stronger.”
Neuhauser works to raise the profile of the essential role of engineers in society and the need for proper investment by states and counties.
“When a bridge falls down or something really catastrophic happens, there will be all this attention on infrastructure and the need to invest. Two weeks later, though, that attention has shifted,” he explained. “As engineers, we know that need firsthand with an understanding of the lifecycle of these projects. You don’t want the company that bid that bid the lowest to necessarily build that bridge. People can complain about our roads or bridges but they don’t understand the cost of it all. In Oklahoma, we have miles of roadway and bridges for the size of the state we are and it takes tax revenue and investment to keep everything working.”
Firms like CP&Y are committed to providing the careful forethought and intentional design required for optimal outcomes.
“It seems like the cities are the ones doing it but the design work takes so long and is meticulous, with planning and all the best practices put into place before things go to construction,” said Neuhauser. “Because we don’t design, own and build projects, but instead are designing them for contractors, there’s liability and pressure of ownership we accept every day. We’re thinking about that daily use, maintenance, replacement — everything.”
Contributing to Oklahoma’s business community rounds out the firm’s role as an employer.
“We will continue getting better and attracting young professionals,” said Neuhauser, a reflection of his optimism for the state. “The people here in Oklahoma are so nice, from our clients to just those you meet in the grocery store. It is a whole other level of friendly. I always say Oklahoma City is a big small town. You meet somebody new and it’s not too many iterations before you meet somebody you both know. The business community here is a place where professionals can grow. Looking ahead to next steps and retirement, you want that where you live.”