Chicago’s notorious “Hawk” winter wind didn’t discourage Anchorage, Alaska, native Amy Mestas (CE ’04, M.S. ’06) from venturing into the “lower 48” to attend college and graduate school. In fact, she credits Illinois Institute of Technology for charting a career path that prepared her not only for designing cold-weather projects but also for evaluating buildings that have been subjected to events that happen with greater frequency in Alaska than in any other state: earthquakes. Mestas, senior-level associate and senior structural engineer with PDC Engineers, was recognized for contributions to the profession and to her community as Alaska Engineer of the Year 2018.
And you’d better not be afraid of spiders! We spent a lot of time in basements/crawlspaces looking for damage. I had more than one eight-legged friend crawling on me over the months of inspections. We took to inspecting right after the main shock, which meant we were often in some dicey situations during aftershocks.
On the professional innovation side, I have worked to implement agile project management practices into our design work to keep employees and clients engaged and our workflow efficient. Engineering is fun, and keeping it that way provides the best possible product to our clients and creates the best designs for the longevity of our community. I love mentoring others and love the initial brainstorming phases of projects, and I especially enjoy walking into a newly finished facility that I know will be a safe structure for my fellow Alaskans in the years to come. I also enjoy speaking at local schools and helping with STEM nights so that our youth are exposed to engineering as a real possibility for their future.
The first summer I spent in Chicago seemed very odd as I had never been in a place that was both dark and hot at the same time! There was always noise in the city, especially since the Illinois Tech dorms were so close to the “L.” When I wake up here, I see the beautiful Chugach Mountains. When I woke up in Chicago, I saw the beautiful manmade skyline. Each is amazing, and I am grateful to have had both experiences in my life.