Andrea Gordon, EI, is a Roadway Engineer in KCA’s Raleigh, NC office. She has been with KCA for more than 4 years (her entire engineering career). Andrea will receive her Professional Engineer (PE) license in June 2023.
Pictured below (L to R): Andrea visiting Moray, Peru (feat of amazing engineering built by the Incas) while she studied abroad in Cuzco for 3 months; Andrea visiting Tipon, Peru (another marvel of ancient hydraulic engineering by the Incas); and Andrea using a computer at age 2.
Why did you decide to become an engineer?
I would say the short answer is that my dad is an engineer too, and my mom studied biology, so an appreciation for math, science and technology have always been close to me. But as I went off to college I began to weigh my analytical, left-brained interests with more personal convictions such as a desire to serve others, to make communities better and safer, and to be a good steward of resources. It was then that I discovered Civil Engineering, and more specifically Transportation Engineering through one of my professors, Dr. Alex Hainen. He had such joy in his work and taught his students to see the impact that Transportation Engineering has on communities as a whole and individuals’ everyday lives. I was sold!
What is the biggest change (during your career) that has impacted the industry?
The buzzword these days in Transportation Engineering is “OpenRoads Designer” (ORD). The transition for designers everywhere to utilize this new software has brought its own set of challenges, but it has many benefits too. Our industry is slowly moving towards the delivery of 3D models and digital files as the final product. I do not think we have arrived there yet, but it is an exciting time to have a front seat in watching the technology advance while learning to continually adapt as well.
How do you envision the future of engineering?
One of my favorite quotes is from R. Buckminster Fuller (architect and engineer), who said, “When I’m working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.” Engineers today and in the future will always be problem-solvers. But we must continue to solve problems in such a way that the results are “beautiful” – having a positive impact on communities, prioritizing safety, preserving and stewarding resources. As societies continues to grow and build and develop, consideration of these things will continue to be essential for engineers everywhere.
What is the most unique project you have worked on?
I have enjoyed working on numerous interesting projects with NCDOT’s Feasibility Studies Unit throughout my career with KCA. These Feasibility Studies usually involve developing high-level designs with various alternatives early in the planning process, which sometimes allows opportunities to consider more innovative options (such as a diverging diamond at an interchange) while analyzing potential impacts and costs.