Searcher Spotlight: Brian Mapel

DSC09144“Basically I’m still a kid playing with erector sets and Tonka toys; it’s just that the sandbox is a little bigger now.”

That’s how Brian Mapel sums up his career as an engineer. A graduate of Santa Clara University who earned his business master’s at Cal, Brian now owns his own firm that provides temporary structure designs for large infrastructure projects.

 “We get to dream up all kinds of unorthodox solutions and then go build them … stuff you’d never get away with in the world of permanent design,” he says.

But even with all this expertise, he still learned something from his three years of CoCoSAR experience that he has translated into his paid work.

“On one of our projects last year we hauled a 100,000-pound excavator up a dam face using a haul system I modeled off of something (Tim) Murphy showed me in USAR,” Brian says.

Brian, though, gives as good as he gets, offering his skills to proctor for USAR and his experience in leadership (gleaned, in part, from his time as a tank commander in the Army) for all team activities.

His younger years were spent in the southern part of the state and country (Los Angeles and Houston) with a tight-knit family. After a few more moves he landed in Martinez, despite the fact that his parents and one of his siblings, with whom he is very close, still live in L.A. But he and his sister have often met up for trips overseas to such places as Thailand, New Zealand and Japan.

Besides travel, he also enjoys backpacking and kayaking, live music, theater and art. And in addition to these activities and a stressful job that sounds like it should take up ALL of his time, he still spends about four months a year leading a group of professionals in mentoring high school kids with an eye toward interesting them in architecture, construction or engineering.

And then there’s SAR.

 “My teammates make SAR worth the work and the effort. I could take any handful of people on this team and show you a handful of exceptional people,” he says. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for people who are passionate about what they do, and this team just exemplifies that. It’s a real pleasure every month to spend time with this group.”