A Success Story: Wohnrade Civil Engineers Leading UAS Development

Cassandra Vagher

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Mary Wohnrade, P.E., is soft-spoken and humble, yet, when you ask her about her work her eyes light up, and you can feel her excitement. “We are at the forefront of developing precision UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) topographic mapping and then using it for final civil engineering design,” she says.

Wohnrade is the owner and principal engineer of Wohnrade Civil Engineers (WCE). The progressive firm is comprised of six key team members based out of Broomfield, Colorado for the past 16 years. The firm provides civil engineering services, precision UAS aerial mapping services, and virtual reality (VR) modeling for both the public and private sectors. Wohnrade has the distinct honor of declaring that her firm is one of the “select few early adopters of UAS technology in the State of Colorado and in the United States.”

WCE is developing techniques for combining UAS data and 3D engineering design data into a virtual reality environment. This allows WCE clients to walk or fly through their civil designs in VR, as opposed to trying to interpret the project using a 2D set of construction plans. The client is completely immersed in the engineering design. Earlier this month Wohnrade’s team had the opportunity to showcase their expertise in VR capabilities to Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and US Senator Cory Gardner at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) 2018 Xponential. “We now have the capability to combine drone data with our 3D civil engineering designs and actually walk through our projects,” Wohnrade explains. “This is a great way to present a project to planning commissions, and clients, that have difficulty reading 2D plan sets.  They are basically immersed in the design in VR,” she says.

Wohnrade VR 8 Wohnrade showcasing their VR capabilities at the Association for Unmanned Vehcile Systems International to Colorado Governor John Hickelooper.

Recently WCE received recognition of historic achievement by UAS Colorado because of work on a noteworthy project at Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve. The team mapped a one-square-mile area of the preserve with the goal of “developing precision mapping using high fidelity remote sensing to monitor change detection and measure dune height in the vicinity of the Star Dune.” After two successful flights, the WCE team processed the massive amount of data, containing over 145 million points, revealing new information that was previously unknown to the Park.

WCE purchased its first drone in 2015. Since then, Wohnrade has set forth to accomplish multiple goals related to UAS in the industry. Her efforts have been recognized through Drone360 Magazine as “One of the Women to Watch in UAS.” Earning the title of “Champion,” she is known for “disrupting, innovating, and shaping the future of the UAS Industry,” according to Sharon Rossmark, founder and CEO of Women and Drones.


Mary Web 350x350 Mary Wohnrade, P.E.

WCE has been using Autodesk® AutoCAD® Civil 3D since the company’s inception, along with multiple other software products that integrate with UAS technology. Applied Software has the honor of supporting WCE through developing streamlined workflows for numerous tasks incorporating UAS data. Wohnrade asserts, “We have found Applied Software’s level of expertise to be exceptional…particularly when trying to incorporate UAS data into the Civil 3D workflow.”

Applied Software provided the software and technical support to WCE that facilitated the development of a VR model for a new augmentation pond on private property in northern Larimer County, Colorado. When the adjacent property owner wanted to know what the pond would look like from multiple vantage points, Wohnrade and her team used UAS data, surfaces model prepared in Civil 3D, and other third party software to create a realistic model of the proposed project in a VR environment. The team displayed the proposed augmentation pond from four vantage points using a single VR model, including from the second story window of the adjacent owner.


“Historic Mapping Operation .” Wohnrade Civil Engineers, Wohnrade Civil Engineers, 24 Jan. 2017, wcecivil.com/historic-mapping-gsdnp/.

“Mary Wohnrade, P.E. Recognized for Her Accomplishments.” Wohnrade Civil Engineers, Wohnrade Civil Engineers, 29 Aug. 2017, wcecivil.com/mary-wohnrade-named-a-2017-woman-to-watch-in-uas/.

Wohnrade Civil Engineers. The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Unmanned Aircraft System Aerial Survey. The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Unmanned Aircraft System Aerial Survey, drive.google.com/file/d/0B41Hv_oKMp-hOHVpWnRTU3dJNUk/view?export=download.

Vagher, Cassandra, and Mary Wohnrade. “Wohnrade Civil Engineers.” 30 May 2018.