2019 Engineer of the Year Nominees
Amy K. Mestas, PE, SE, is a registered civil and structural engineer and PDC Engineers’ senior associate leading their structural engineering group. She has a BS and MS in civil engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Mestas serves on the board of the Structural Engineers Association of Alaska where she is the immediate past president, having held the positions of treasurer, vice-president, and president over the past five years. She also serves on the board for the Alaska Professional Design Council and is a member of several other industry organizations.
Mestas has thirteen years of structural engineering experience and eight years of multi-discipline project management experience. She has served as the lead structural designer for projects such as the Chena River Lakes Flood Control Project Administrative Office and Visitor Center, the Crown Point Maintenance Station, City of Valdez Kelsey Dock Interpretive Center, and the John R. Pugh Student Residence Hall at the University of Alaska Southeast, which was awarded an Honor Award in the category of Structural Systems during Engineers Week in 2015.
Her recent military design work includes projects throughout Alaska. She has been responsible for high-altitude electromagnetic pulse protection, missile field blast design, risk category 5 seismic design, and the renovation of historical facilities. She has worked as a member of seismic review panels for projects related to Alaska’s missile defense assets at Fort Greely and Clear AFB and has provided both the designs and reviews for critical mechanical and electrical component designs for high seismic conditions.
Mestas is also active in the community. She is the head volleyball coach at South Anchorage High School and was the Northern Lights Math and Science Night Chair for the past two years. She served on the board and scholarship selection committee in 2015 for the Society of Women Engineers and has participated in several Positive Leadership for Active Alaskan Youth conferences. Mestas volunteers during E-week each year as a public speaker and mentor.
Since the Anchorage earthquake on November 30, Mestas has been working around the clock organizing PDC’s structural engineering group in post-earthquake inspection efforts. In the first two weeks following the earthquake, their team provided more than forty public and commercial facility inspections and more than forty-five residential inspections. She looks forward to sharing her experiences and stories with students during this upcoming E-week.
Mestas was nominated by the Structural Engineers Association of Alaska, a nonprofit organization established to pursue the common interests of practicing structural engineers and others sharing an interest in the activities of structural engineers.
Katie Johnson, PE, has more than ten years of experience as a mechanical engineer and currently works at Coffman Engineers. Born and raised in Anchorage, she holds two bachelor of science degrees: mathematics from Purdue (2003) and mechanical engineering from University of Alaska Fairbanks (2008). She recently graduated from University of Alaska Anchorage with a master’s in engineering management (2018).
Johnson has had the good fortune to see both sides of the fence. Her career began with designing pipelines, and she’s been working on facility and maintenance projects since joining Coffman in 2014.
Her notable projects include contributing to the design of the Point Thomson gathering and transmission pipelines. She has also been actively involved in various projects supporting the Tesoro Alaska pipeline. As a consultant, she has had the opportunity to work for diverse owners/operators throughout the state in piping engineering and project management. Johnson is an active member of Society of Women Engineers (SWE). Over the past eight years, she has held various offices, including president. She is currently serving a hat trick as vice president. Through SWE Johnson enjoys participating in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) flavored outreach activities like SmartGirls Rock, Girl Scout Women in Science and Technology day, and others. Since 2005 Johnson has been volunteering as a grader with Mathcounts, a nationwide nonprofit organization dedicated to making math fun for students in grades six through eight. She is also a member of Anchorage East Rotary, where she works with high school foreign exchange students as the club’s youth exchange officer. In addition to providing student counseling and assistance during the academic year, she chaperones foreign teens on road trips and cultural events around the state. In her spare time, Johnson enjoys hiking with her dog and quilting.
Johnson was nominated by SWE, the first society dedicated to the advancement of women in engineering.
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Bradley S. Sordahl, PE, is a mechanical engineer with thirty-five years of experience in Alaska. Sordahl has worked at MBA Consulting Engineers since 1992 and has been principal and chief mechanical engineer since 2007. Sordahl came to Alaska with two suitcases and began his engineering career with CMH/VITRO in 1983 after graduating from Washington State University with a BS in mechanical engineering. Pullman became Sordahl’s hometown after growing up as a “Boeing Brat” in the Minuteman Missile Program. Sordahl lived in essentially every Midwest “rectangular” state, moving twenty times in eighteen years and attending five high schools in three states.
He earned his PE at CMH before giving sales a try with the Trane Company. He completed the Professional Sales Engineering Program in Lacrosse, Wisconsin—essentially a master’s degree in heating, ventilating, and air conditioning. Having discovered sales was not for him, Sordahl joined MBA in 1992 as a mechanical project engineer.
At MBA Sordahl has been fortunate to be the mechanical engineer of record on high profile projects and Alaska landmarks including the William Jack Hernandez Fish Hatchery, Alaska Native Heritage Center, Homer Islands and Oceans Center, Near Island Research Facility, Navy SEALS Cold Weather Training Facility, Iditarod Dining Hall, and hundreds more. Recent projects include two challenging renovations for the Anchorage School District at Willow Crest Elementary and Chugiak High School. Sordahl enjoys and embraces any opportunity to solve an engineering problem.
He holds memberships in professional/technical organizations including AMCA, NFPA, and ACEC and is past president of the Alaska Chapter of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). Sordahl volunteers for the “I Know I Can— Kids2College Program” and is enjoying his first year contributing to Dimond Engineering Academy’s CANstruction design. He currently serves on the MOA IMC IFGC Code Review Committee. Sordahl volunteers weekly for the Mobile Food Pantry with Lutheran Social Services.
Sordahl enjoys time at the family cabin on Big Lake with Jodi, his wife of thirty-four years. Sordahl also enjoys golf, but he is passionate about snow machining. He completed the 2010 Iron Dog Trail Class Race to Nome and has been an Iron Dog Race volunteer ever since.
Sordahl was nominated by ASHRAE, a global society dedicated to advancing the arts and sciences of heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and refrigeration to serve humanity and promote a sustainable world.
Erica Jensen, PE, PTOE, graduated summa cum laude from the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) with a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering and a master’s in engineering management. She is also a professional traffic operations engineer and has more than twelve years of experience with emphasis on transportation, aviation, and site design projects. As project engineer for CRW Engineering Group, Jensen has been the lead designer for a number of major projects throughout Anchorage:
Campbell Airstrip Road and Trail—Jensen provided detailed design for this mile long transportation project to upgrade the roadway and construct a new trail through Far North Bicentennial Park. She helped balance the needs of local residents, park users, and federal regulatory agencies.
Merrill Field Airport Miscellaneous Projects— Jensen is currently designing upgrades to taxiways, aprons, and parking areas at this municipal airport and solving the challenges of building over a former landfill site. She developed construction phasing plans to maintain uninterrupted airfield access for the adjacent hospital and medevac route.
Lake Hood Airport Taxiway Victor— Jensen provided detailed design for this transportation link serving aircraft traveling between Lake Hood Seaplane Base and Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Jensen designed improvements to the unique intersection of Postmark Drive and Taxiway V, which is shared by vehicles, aircraft, and pedestrians.
The Susitna Flats— Jensen is managing the civil site design for this downtown private development luxury housing project at the west end of the Park Strip overlooking Turnagain Arm. She provided detailed design solving grading, utility, drainage, and permitting challenges.
Jensen is active in the professional community through her involvement with, and presentations to, professional organizations and schools, including the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), Alaska Professional Design Council (APDC), and UAA’s College of Engineering. Jensen is the current secretary for APDC and previously served as an officer for the ITE Alaska Section. At the national level, Jensen is the managing editor of ITE Western District, which encompasses all thirteen states from Colorado to Hawaii.
When not focused on engineering, Jensen is active in giving back to the community. She is on the board of Cook Inlet Soccer Club, serving as secretary, and “coached” recreational soccer for ages U4-U8 (although it often felt more like wrangling herds of cats versus coaching). Jensen is also on the Parent-Teacher Association for Trailside Elementary School and she volunteers every other week in her son’s classroom.
When she does find down time, Jensen enjoys jiu jitsu, rock climbing, camping, biking, and traveling. She competed in the 2016 International PAN Jiu Jitsu Championship, earning gold in her weight and belt division. She has luckily not yet needed to utilize these skills on unreasonable contractors or young interns.Jensen was nominated by ITE, an international membership association of transportation professionals who work to improve mobility and safety for all transportation system users and help build smart and livable communities.
Nicole Knox is happy to represent Alaska’s home-grown engineers. She has fifteen years of civil engineering experience with a broad range of site, roadway, utility, and airport design experience.
Knox grew up in Anchorage, stayed for college, and graduated from the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) in 2004 with a bachelor of science in civil engineering. She worked as an engineering intern at ASCG, Inc. during school, then moved to R&M Consultants shortly after graduating. She has been part of the R&M team ever since. Knox steadily progressed from staff engineer to project engineer to senior project engineer and is now a shareholder of the company. She was promoted to R&M’s group manager of site development in 2017.
Her experience includes site layout, grading, storm water and snow melt management, utility services design, signing and striping plans, and pedestrian and vehicle access and circulation analysis. Her focus over the past thirteen years has been working on large and small, public and private site development projects throughout Alaska, each with their own unique challenges. Knox is highly regarded for her attention to detail and loves collaborating with energetic project teams to enhance her community and communities across Alaska. She has provided civil site design for numerous schools, parks, and public facilities around the state. Knox is personally interested in how universal and inclusive design concepts can be seamlessly incorporated into site design to make visitors of all ages and abilities feel welcome, safe, and inspired by their surroundings. She feels fortunate to have worked on so many exciting projects, including the recently completed Anchorage Museum expansion, Anchorage School District and Lower Kuskokwim School District school addition and renovation projects, and the award-winning Alaska Airlines Center, which brought her back on to the campus of her alma mater.
Alongside work, Knox finds great value in professional and community service. She is a willing mentor to students and young professionals. She has been actively involved in numerous local professional organizations, serving concurrently on multiple boards and committees beginning with her enrollment at UAA. Knox hopes to inspire other engineers to spend a little time giving back to the engineering community, whether building bridges out of toothpicks and gumdrops with elementary schools students, encouraging high school students to consider engineering, scoring a few scholarship applications, or helping college students with their resumes.
Knox was nominated by The National Association of Women in Construction Alaska Chapter, which provides support, networking, training, and more for women professionals in construction, and the Society of American Military Engineers Anchorage Post, which leads collaborative efforts to identify and resolve national security infrastructure-related challenges.
In This Issue
The Marx Bros. Café
Jack Amon and Richard “Van” Hale opened the doors of the Marx Bros. Café on October 18, 1979; however, the two had already been partners in cuisine for some time, having created the Wednesday Night Gourmet Wine Tasting Society and Volleyball Team Which Now Meets on Sunday, a weekly evening of food and wine. It was actually the end of the weekly event that spurred the name of the restaurant: hours after its final service, Amon and Hale were hauling equipment and furnishings out of their old location and to their now-iconic building on Third Street, all while managing arguments about equipment ownership, a visit from the police, and quite a bit of wine. “If you’ve ever seen the movie ‘A Night at the Opera” starring the Marx Brothers, that’s what it was like,” Hale explains.