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Personnel File - September 2009: Engineering

Pam Townsend
Vice President and Transportation Manager , AECOM Technology Corp.

Pam Townsend, 49, took over this summer as president of the Professional Engineers of North Carolina. At AECOM Technology, she oversees projects in the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee. The Johnstown, Pa., native worked as a secretary before getting a bachelor’s in engineering from N.C. State University in 1984. She worked with a Raleigh firm until completing a master’s from N.C. State in 1987, then took a job as project manager with the Raleigh office of Greenville, S.C.-based Rust Environment & Infrastructure Inc. In 1995, she was promoted to principal in charge of North Carolina operations. Three years later, Rust was acquired by Long Beach, Calif.-based Earth Tech Inc., which was acquired by Los Angeles-based AECOM in 2008. Here, she talks about engineering, how to attract women to the field and her focus for the state group.

“My father and grandfather were doctors, and there was some expectation that I would also study medicine. But I was interested in engineering, probably because I liked the idea that you could shape the community.”

“Young women need more exposure to our profession, to women engineers, to role models. I have been very active in bringing to North Carolina the Future City Middle School Outreach Program, in which teams of middle-school students design future cities. It has been encouraging to see more and more girls on these teams.”

“This year, [PENC has] focused on highlighting infrastructure as a central priority. There are so many competing priorities, but now is the time, especially with the population growth we’re seeing in North Carolina, when we should really be turning our attention to infrastructure.”