Employee Spotlight: Michael Batuna, PE

Michael Batuna of our Dallas office was recently honored as the 2020 Engineer of the Year for Texas Society of Professional Engineers (TSPE) Preston Trail Chapter. We caught up with Michael to learn more about what inspires him in and out of the office.

Where’s your favorite place in the world? 

Growing up, for summer vacations my Father took us to his hometown Manado. The coastal City is located on the north coast of the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. It has some of the best diving and snorkeling places in the world because of its crystal clear ocean and variety of marine life. There are also few active volcanoes in the area that are great for hiking. The variety of fresh seafood, spicy food and tropical fresh fruits are abundant. We’ve also brought our kids several times there and hangout with the extended family, as it’s a nice simpler place to unwind and disconnect.


What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about food. I enjoy going on a culinary trip when I go to visit new places.  We always look for places to eat that reflect the local flavors and atmosphere. I’ll try almost any food once. I also like to cook for my family and friends on special occasions, gatherings or just for a quick meal.


How did you decide to become a Professional Engineer (PE)? 

I was eager to become a licensed Professional Engineer in the beginning of my career. I look up to my peers as they get to design and manage projects from the early inception of proposal generation to performing and reviewing the work to produce an engineering report. I wanted to have the same level involvement and responsibility. I believe early on that it is a requirement for myself to advance in my career. Having a PE also enhances your credibility in providing engineering services and by holding paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public.


What’s the most exciting project you ever worked on and why? 

I worked on a project where the stakeholder is the rapidly growing City of Frisco in Texas (north of Dallas) where they’re having premature pavement failures on recently built streets. We evaluated the subgrade below the roadways in and around newly constructed subdivision that experienced pavement distress and movements within one to few years of construction. Parametric studies were performed on various soil types to evaluate the swell potential and on samples stabilized with lime for their susceptibility to sulfate in creating ettringite formation, causing sulfate induced heave. The findings were then used to develop a subgrade ordinance to address expansive soils and high sulfate soils. The project is exciting to me as I was continuously learning from my peers and from several University expert matter throughout the project. It’s also rewarding to see that the subgrade ordinance were adopted and being used to this date by the City of Frisco, as well as by other cities around the North Texas Metroplex for their pavement subgrade design.