Greeley and Hansen Hires Second Engineer Utilizing Unique Immigrant Apprenticeship Program

Successful Global Engineers in Residence Program Provides Good Engineers and Promotes Diversity, Says Firm COO

Nov 28, 2012, 11:25 ET from Greeley and Hansen

CHICAGO, Nov. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Greeley and Hansen, a leading civil and environmental engineering and consulting firm, announced today that it has hired Fasil Yitbarek as a civil engineer in its Chicago office, the firm's second hire through a unique program called Global Engineers in Residence (GEIR).

Yitbarek, a native of Eritrea in eastern Africa, joined the firm after a six-month apprenticeship through the GEIR program, which was developed by Greeley and Hansen and a nonprofit organization called Upwardly Global.  Educated as an engineer in Eritrea, Yitbarek had been unable to find work in the US as an engineer since arriving here in 2010.

"After completing his apprenticeship here at Greeley and Hansen, we are delighted that Fasil accepted our offer to join our firm as a regular full-time employee," said John C. Robak, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the firm. "He's an experienced and talented engineer and is already working on one of our biggest projects.  As an added benefit, Fasil brings greater diversity to our workforce, which is an important priority for our firm." 

Yitbarek is the second engineer that Greeley and Hansen has brought on board utilizing the GEIR program. The first, Mushtaq Dakhil, a mechanical engineer from Iraq, joined the firm in 2011.

Robak lauded GEIR as a tremendous success for both Greeley and Hansen and Upwardly Global, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping immigrants legally eligible and authorized to work in the US find jobs in the US commensurate with their education.

For Greeley and Hansen, GEIR has helped create a new pipeline of qualified engineering talent that is in great demand and short supply in the US.  For Upwardly Global, GEIR has been an effective program and model for linking immigrant professionals with progressive companies that can provide these individuals with meaningful work opportunities that can improve their employability in the US.

For Yitbarek, it was like winning the lottery twice; the first came when he won a permanent residency visa and the second was landing the apprenticeship at Greeley and Hansen.

"I never thought I would be an engineer in the United States," Yitbarek said.  "You cannot imagine how big this is for me." 

Educated as a civil engineer at the University of Asmara in Eriteria, Yitbarek said he fled the country because the government would not allow him to work in his chosen profession.  He emigrated to neighboring Uganda where he was able to work as an engineer.

However, he also hoped to someday come to the US. Yitbarek applied for the "diversity visa" program that grants permanent residency visas or "green cards" to about 55,000 people from around the world each year.  In 2009, Yitbarek learned his name had been chosen in the lottery for the visas.

After arriving in Chicago in 2010, he lived with relatives and worked in their auto repair shop.  Because he was unable to find work as an engineer despite his professional training and experience, Yitbarek decided in 2011 to attend the University of Wisconsin in Madison to begin studying for a master's degree in engineering.

In Madison, he supported himself as a nightshift stock clerk, a parking lot attendant and a clerk at a gas station.

A friend had told him about Upwardly Global where he learned about the GEIR program and filled out an application.  When he learned that Greeley and Hansen had picked him for an apprenticeship, Yitbarek suspended his studies and joined the firm the day after his 28th birthday.

"This is a dream come true," he said.  "I'm using my education, and I'm working on interesting and important projects that improve people's lives."

About Greeley and Hansen
Greeley and Hansen is a leader in developing innovative engineering solutions for a wide array of water, wastewater, and related infrastructure challenges aimed at improving public health, safety, and welfare.  Headquartered in Chicago and with 17 offices across the US, the firm provides services for all phases of projects ranging from master planning and feasibility studies through design, construction, and start-up.  Since 1914, Greeley and Hansen has collaborated with its client partners in public and private utilities and agencies to create better urban environments.  More information is available at

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Nancy Stankus

SOURCE Greeley and Hansen