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Engineers Week 2018 - Meet Amanda Heise

Today we find out about jet-setting, learning a new language and the awe-inspiring power of water with Amanda Heise.

Amanda Heise is a project engineer for Jacobs based out of Los Angeles, CA. She’s focused on hydraulics, hydrology and water quality. From designing storm drain systems and conducting water supply and climate change studies to addressing water quality issues, she helps clients across California tackle some of their most-pressing water resource challenges.

During National Engineers Week, she talks about her career:


Tell us what you do.

I am a water engineer based in Los Angeles, but I grew up in Sacramento and have spent time around most of the state. I get to work on a wide variety of water projects in the LA area, and I love to learn about water resources throughout California because water is such an issue in my state. Day-to-day I typically work on stormwater management projects, support our local business development efforts to win cool water projects, and have become more involved in water reuse!

What inspired you to pursue a career in engineering?

My dad! He spent most of his career with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, so I grew up at stream restoration sites and around fish hatcheries. He taught me how to survey when I was still in elementary school and always made sure I was doing well in math and science. So, selecting civil engineering as my college major was an obvious choice.

What has been your most exciting career moment so far?

I wasn’t involved personally, but the Oroville Dam crisis last year was pretty exciting. Seeing what the force of water can do is awe-inspiring, and it renewed interest in the maintenance of dams and infrastructure that is typically overlooked and considered boring. It also helped me realize how many dams we have in the Los Angeles area.

If you could go back in time and work on any engineering project, what would it be?

I don’t have to go back in time to answer this one – the California WaterFix! This will probably be one of the largest water engineering projects in the state throughout my career. The concept for this project has gone through so many iterations, and it’s exciting to see it really move forward now. My dad was involved with this project during his career, and I think it would be awesome to add to my resume as well!

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of my job is getting to work on projects that have multiple benefits to the area’s water resources and communities. If you can remodel a park to conserve water and treat urban runoff while improving recreational space for a low-income community, that’s a win-win-win!

If you’re not in the office, you’re likely…

Traveling somewhere else in the world! If you know me, you know I stretch my time off as far as it will go! Besides a family trip to Mexico, I never really traveled outside California growing up. I started with CH2M, now Jacobs, in July 2011, got hired full-time in June 2012 and got my professional engineers license in April 2015 (I was in Prague when I found out I passed!).

Since I’ve started, I’ve traveled to 11 countries. This year I’m planning to visit four more! I made it a goal to travel to a new country every year, and so far, I have averaged about two to three. I’d love to do a temporary assignment in another country during my career.

Besides experiencing different cultures, foods and site-seeing, I love looking at the infrastructure (or lack of) in other countries. I especially like to understand their water, sanitation and flood management practices. It gives me a lot to reflect on in terms of what we do to solve these similar issues in California.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I am learning Portuguese! After having a series of water-related dreams, I thought it was time I did something after work that stimulated my mind and got me thinking about something other than work. Now I have water dreams in Portuguese!

What advice would you give to the future generation of engineers?

As engineers, we can design and build almost anything... except mother earth! As the world’s population continues to grow we often create unintended consequences that can be irreversible and lead to the destruction of natural resources and ecosystems. Let’s continue to find ways to integrate engineering with the natural environment.

Skydiving over Lake Tahoe
Touring L.A's famous Stahl House
Standing in front of the Himalayan peak, Ama Dablam, on the way to Everest Base Camp
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