2019 40 Under 40: Drew VanNess, PE; 33

Process Group Director of Operations, the jdi group Inc., Maumee, Ohio BS Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta

By Jack Smith and Amara Rozgus May 16, 2019

VanNess joined the jdi group Inc. as an intern 14 years ago (2005) and returned as a mechanical engineer upon his graduation from Georgia Tech. Consistently displaying strong skills in engineering and leadership, he has steadily progressed over time from engineer to manager to his current position as director of operations of the process group. As such, he oversees a staff of 20 engineers, project managers and technicians, monitoring their work, providing direction and mentoring them in their careers. VanNess has achieved many milestones during his 14-year career that most people reach only after decades in the business, if ever. As a senior mechanical engineer, his focus has been in the manufacturing sector, providing process engineering, machine design, dust and fume collection and pneumatic conveying services. For the past 10 years, he has led the jdi group’s participation in the Engineer for a Day program, sponsored by the Technical Society of Toledo. This annual event is held every February to encourage young people to consider engineering and science as future professions. VanNess also has taken a leading role in introducing younger children to the field of engineering. For instance, the past two years he has participated in a local school’s Family Literacy and STEM Night. VanNess enjoys working out, cooking and participating in trivia as part of a team at the local sports bar. In addition, he has played a lead role in developing jdi’s softball team, playing second base and outfield for the past seven years. In his down time, he enjoys singing and playing guitar. He took the initiative to teach himself how to play the instrument eight years ago and says it gives him an outlet for creativity. 

Author Bio: Jack Smith is a Content Manager at CFE Media. Amara Rozgus is Editor-in-Chief of Consulting-Specifying Engineer.