ASCE American Society of Civil Engineers Inland Empire Section

Craig Lee - Distinguished Career 2017

Craig Lee, S.E. LEED AP, is Structural Principal Advisor of Coffman Engineers and longtime Spokane, Washington native. Craig developed an enthusiasm for engineering at a young age as he passed long stretches of road construction along Interstate-90 on family vacations to Montana. Years later, in 1968, Craig earned his B.S. in civil engineering down the road at Washington State University.


Upon graduation, Craig began his engineering career working at Shell Oil Company before going back to Washington State University in 1975 to earn his M.S. degree in civil engineering. From 1975 -1995 he worked for a few different structural engineering firms including Atwood Hinzman, Donald N. Petersen, and Peden Petersen & Lee (PPL). Craig has an exceptional engineering talent and is a respected leader amongst his peers. As a consequence, in 1995 when PPL was acquired by Coffman Engineers, he was asked by Dave Coffman, founder of Coffman Engineers, to help open and manage the new Spokane office of Coffman/PPL. Craig provided office leadership for the ensuing 12 years, during which he taught and mentored many young engineers, including some that hold senior leadership roles in the company today.


Craig began his retirement from Coffman in 2013 but continues to work on projects and share his expert advice. He began his forensic work in 1981 by inspecting and analyzing the cause of a grain silo collapse in Othello, Washington and since, has performed over 100 forensic investigations. These include roof collapses, pre-engineered steel building collapses, concrete and steel silo collapses, fire damage assessment, seismic damage assessments and other miscellaneous structural failures associated with construction activities. His knowledge and expertise has led him to work with many insurance companies and attorneys and he has testified numerous times in mediations, arbitrations and trials related to structural failures.


Some of his most notable projects include: the Red Dog Mine Coarse Ore Storage Facility (which is north of Kotzebue, Alaska); analysis of multiple structure failures due to the Nisqually Earthquake of 2001; Spokane River Park Square; and numerous projects for Kaiser Aluminum.


Although it has been said that Craig sees the world in stress points, he doesn’t spend all his time engineering. Craig spent 25 years on the Mt. Spokane Ski Patrol and serves on multiple leadership boards including: the Red Cross Inland Empire Region Board; the Honor Point Military & Aerospace Museum Board; and the Mt. Spokane Ski Area Advisory Board. Wherever he goes, Craig is teaching and learning as much as he can. His advice for young engineers: “Stay curious.”


"What could possibly go wrong?"


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