Alex Jefferies, P.E. | Hydraulic Engineer
Alex is a senior engineer who has been with PND for the past seven years. She designs fish passage structures, stream restoration, erosion control, and performs drainage calculations for sites and roadways, as well as hydraulic analyses for culverts and bridges. Alex was the first student to earn a place on UAA’s Patent Wall of Fame, with her water-powered floating fish carcass grinding and disposal system, inspired by growing up on the Kenai Peninsula. She recently completed her master’s thesis, which focused on hydraulic modeling of fish passage culverts.
Outside of work, Alex volunteers as the treasurer for Anchorage Waterways Council, and enjoys dog sports and spending her time time outdoors.
Q: How did you decide to have a career in engineering?
A: Growing up I loved math, science, and art/design. In late high school I really enjoyed chemistry, so I chose to pursue chemical engineering. As I learned more about that career, I realized that I also really enjoy being outdoors and working with tangible objects—thus civil engineering became my career path. I was most interested in fluid mechanics and hydrology/water resources in college, and my passion for the outdoors, water, and fish really led me to my current career path.
Q: How would you describe your job/role?
A: I’m a civil engineer that specializes in water resources engineering, working as part of an overall civil team designing site plans, roads, bridges, hydraulic structures, and erosion protection.
Q: What is a typical day on the job like for you?
A: There isn’t a typical day! Otherwise, I would get bored. Some days I’m writing reports. Some days I’m working on drawings. Some days I’m doing calculations. And other days I’m in the field taking stream measurements, walking a proposed road alignment in the middle of nowhere, or riding in a helicopter following a river.
Q: What has been your most meaningful project?
A: The project that I enjoyed the most—and that cemented the path I wanted to follow in my career—was the FH43 Deweyville Trailhead to Neck Lake Road design-build project we did with Kiewit for the Federal Highway Administration. I conducted a reconnaissance visit measuring stream characteristics and designed over 15 unique fish passage structures. I continued to focus my career and education on fish passage design, completing my thesis for my master’s degree on that topic.
Q: What was your childhood dream job?
A: When I was 3 I told my parents I wanted to be a “farmerina” (ballerina/farmer). Then I wanted to be an astronaut (who didn’t?). Then I wanted to be a wildlife or fisheries biologist.
Q: What is your favorite Alaska activity?
A: Hiking in the mountains