Robert Dennis
Robert W. Dennis, Ph.D., P.E.
Principal Engineer
Construction Consulting
  • Hong Kong

Dr. Robert Dennis is a Principal Engineer in Exponent’s Construction Consulting practice. Dr. Dennis has over 30 years of experience managing a broad variety of projects working in industry, consulting, and academia. He began his career as a project engineer for a major, fully integrated international petroleum company. Dr. Dennis subsequently accepted a position as Vice President and Officer of a public engineering and construction firm. Dr. Dennis was a Partner in a Big Four accounting firm and later was an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering at Nazarbayev University in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Dr. Dennis is an experienced testifying expert in construction, environmental and other matters, and has extensive international experience. His broad range of experience provides him with great insight into risks associated with large energy, and infrastructure projects. The value he brings to his clients lies in his ability to deliver robust and implementable technical solutions to organizational challenges.

After earning his doctorate in Civil Engineering from the University of Notre Dame, Dr. Dennis was hired by Exxon Research and Engineering Company as a project engineer. In a ten-year career with Exxon, Dr. Dennis held various technical and managerial positions. He designed water and wastewater facilities for several refineries in the US and Europe. He provided project management services to operating affiliates globally, including representing the owner on design and construction projects. He was promoted to management positions within the US operating affiliate, Exxon USA and was a staff engineer in the Engineering and Construction Division. He later was promoted to District Sales Manager for Houston company operated retail motor fuel outlets, having overall profit and loss responsibility for the district. He was then promoted to Manager of Environmental Affairs for US marketing operations.

Dr. Dennis left Exxon and accepted a position as Vice President and Officer of Harding Lawson Associates, a public engineering and construction firm. He managed the largest profit center in the firm and was responsible for financial performance as well as planning, design and construction of various projects. He was transferred to Chicago where he opened the firm’s first Midwest office.

Dr. Dennis was an Advisory partner at Coopers & Lybrand/PricewaterhouseCoopers in Chicago, Houston and Almaty, Kazakhstan. During his tenure with the firm, he held various positions including Chicago Advisory Site Leader, Leader of the US Advisory Energy Practice and US Leader of Sustainability and Climate Change. In Almaty, Kazakhstan, he led the Advisory practice in Eurasia as well as the Energy, Utilities, and Mining practice for the region. He delivered significant private and public sector projects including large energy industry engagements and modernization and optimization of the Kazakhstan Customs operations.

Dr. Dennis is an experienced consulting and testifying expert, having been qualified as an expert in US and international tribunals. Most of these engagements involved construction as well as environmental matters. These dispute related engagements give Dr. Dennis great insight into what can and frequently does go wrong with large energy and infrastructure projects.

Dr. Dennis was invited to join the faculty of Nazarbayev University in Astana, Kazakhstan as Associate Professor of Civil Engineering. He taught Construction Management, Engineering Economics and developed the curriculum for Environmental Engineering. Shortly after joining the faculty, he was elected chairman of the faculty senate and served on the Academic Council, the Research Council, and the President’s Council. He organized the Civil Engineering Industrial Advisory Board and served as the University representative on the Board.

CREDENTIALS & PROFESSIONAL HONORS

  • Ph.D., Civil Engineering, University of Notre Dame
  • M.S., Environmental Health Engineering, University of Notre Dame
  • B.A., English Literature, Denison University

LICENSES & CERTIFICATIONS

Licensed Professional Engineer, Texas, #105382

Licensed Professional Engineer, Wisconsin, #E-28956

LANGUAGES

  • Russian

Prior Experience

Associate Professor, School of Engineering, Nazarbayev University, Astana, Kazakhstan, 2012–2014

Consulting Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Almaty, Kazakhstan, 2009–2012

Consulting Director/Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Chicago and Houston, 1993–2009

Vice President and Officer, Harding Lawson Associates, Novato, California, 1989–1992

Project Engineer, District Sales Manager, Manager of Environmental Services, Exxon Corporation, Florham Park, New Jersey and Houston, 1979–1988

Project Experience

Conducted oil loss analysis for a large onshore production facility. Using material balance procedures, he identified metering and reporting issues and reported results to senior management of the company.

Testified in a design and construction defect matter involving an offshore platform in the Gulf of Mexico.

Analyzed and reported on low probability/high impact events in the petroleum and utilities industries identifying corporate wide root causes.

Testified in a design and construction defect dispute related to a large infrastructure project.

Developed models for allocating environmental cleanup costs at contaminated properties using fundamental economic principles.

For an international, fully integrated oil and gas company, Dr. Dennis and his team conducted a detailed physical risks assessment of the entity's downstream operating units including refineries, petroleum products terminals and pipelines. The objective of the project was to identify and prioritize areas of higher risk. The focus of the assessment was health, process safety, security and the environment.

For a large electric power utility with fossil and nuclear operations, Dr. Dennis and his team evaluated the company's operational safety program and developed leading indicators of operational safety performance. 

Robert Dennis and his team consulted to the Board of Directors of a privately held engineering and construction firm. Consulting assistance included valuation of the various business units and recommendations for restructuring the company to improve cash flow. 

An integrated US oil and gas company received an Order from the SEC to retain Dr. Dennis and his team to evaluate the policies, procedures and controls related to establishment of environmental remediation reserves. 

Dr. Dennis was retained as a dispute resolution facilitator between joint venture partners operating an oil production facility in Kazakhstan. 


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CREDENTIALS & PROFESSIONAL HONORS

  • Ph.D., Civil Engineering, University of Notre Dame
  • M.S., Environmental Health Engineering, University of Notre Dame
  • B.A., English Literature, Denison University

LICENSES & CERTIFICATIONS

Licensed Professional Engineer, Texas, #105382

Licensed Professional Engineer, Wisconsin, #E-28956

LANGUAGES

  • Russian