News Jun 23, 2022

Building a Bridge to History

Jacobs’ women in Transportation make history at the American Council of Engineering Companies Engineering Excellence Awards

Five women in formal dress with their award at ACEC

In the 1970s Laurel Thatcher Ulrich coined the phrase, "Well-behaved women seldom make history." We think that's the case for our engineers, too!

Heather Weeks, Jennifer Bassett-Hales and Tayla Page recently represented Jacobs at the 55th annual?American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC)?Engineering Excellence Awards for our SR 167/70th Ave E Vicinity Bridge Replacement project. Even more remarkable than the award itself, this was the first time in the history of the national awards that the ACEC presenters and recipients onstage were all women.

In honor of International Women in Engineering Day 2022?, let’s meet this inspiring team:

The three individuals representing the team, Heather Weeks, Jennifer Bassett-Hales and Tayla Page, were inspired by being able to represent both Jacobs and our incredible women during the awards.

"In one of my first engineering college courses, a male classmate leaned over and told me I was in the wrong room and did not belong in an engineering course," says Heather, who is an engineering manager at Jacobs. "I am proud to represent the women in engineering and hope to inspire others to never let anyone else determine where you belong."

Heather has been with Jacobs for more than 28 years, starting as a roadway engineer and now as an engineering manager. She served as Project Manager for the award-winning SR 167/70th Ave E Vicinity Bridge Replacement project. She prepared the Alternative Technical Concept that improved the design solutions and reduced construction costs, and she managed the design, ensuring the design criteria were met and delivering the project to meet the Washington State Department of Transportation's (WSDOT) goals.

“In one of my first engineering college courses, a male classmate leaned over and told me I was in the wrong room and did not belong in an engineering course. I am proud to represent the women in engineering and hope to inspire others to never let anyone else determine where you belong.”

Heather Weeks

Jacobs’ Engineering Manager

Tayla served alongside Heather as one of the bridge engineers in the Transportation group. She began her Jacobs career in Australia, then relocating to the Bellevue Transportation team with a love of large, fast-paced, multidisciplinary projects and has spent the last five years working on WSDOT Design-Build projects.

"I am grateful for the many incredible people who have progressed history for women, for the brilliant team that I get to work with and for the opportunities that I have," says Tayla. "I hope to share that inspiration and continue empowering others in our community."

Lastly, Jennifer Bassett-Hales serves as Vice-Chair on the ACEC Washington Board and is Jacobs’ Atkinson and WSDOT Client Account Manager. She was involved in the 70th Avenue pursuit, supporting our innovative design team. Upon accepting the award, she said she is "grateful for the opportunity to work alongside one of the most talented, innovative, and high-performance design teams in the country.” ?

She also shared she’s happy to work for Jacobs in the Pacific Northwest surrounded by amazing men and women who have believed in her and allowed her to grow in ways she never imagined.

Let's Build a Bridge

Located in Tacoma, Washington, the team's innovative design features a single-span bridge with an at-the-time record-breaking 222’-3" long unspliced prestressed concrete girders. The ingenuity of all disciplines to work collaboratively to accommodate a single-span bridge benefited the project by significantly reducing the project's environmental footprint, increasing sustainability and improving constructability and safety. This project is the first in a series of projects to provide additional connectivity and capacity in the area.

The bridge was redesigned from a 4-span bridge to a single-span, simplifying long-term maintenance and inspection and increasing safety for the crew and public. Combined with re-aligning 70th Ave E and the Interurban Trail shared user path, these techniques enabled the project to reduce impacts to the well-established wetlands by several acres, now and in the future. This environmentally-conscious approach provided more flexibility for future projects and reduced throw-away work. The project used other innovative methods such as crushing existing concrete on-site to use as aggregate instead of exporting and importing material to re-use as much on-site material as possible.

Congratulations to this ground-breaking team, our construction partner Atkinson, and WSDOT on this achievement.