PUBLISHED: 5:30 PM on Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Hard work, dedication pays off for woman engineer
Her birthplace, Ohio, is a lengthy trek from Alaska, but Kate Mickelson, 28, has settled quite comfortably in Juneau. While vacationing in Alaska during high school, the state made such a positive impact that Mickelson moved to Juneau to intern for CBJ's engineering department.

"After graduation, I had the opportunity to take a position with PND as a staff engineer. Combined with meeting my husband Norman (it) made the decision to make Juneau my home very easy," she said.

  Kate Mickelson
Intelligent, warm-hearted and extremely personable, Mickelson has always been career oriented.

"PND was a consultant to the CBJ on my first intern project, the construction of Treadwell Arena," she said. "I had been introduced to and worked with several of the staff members, all of whom loved the experience and opportunities that PND afforded them, so when I was offered a position after graduation in 2004, I jumped on it!"

Never one to sit on the back burner, she said the shear diversity of projects worked on is the most challenging aspect of her job.

"Meeting the various demands and working with the limitations and restraints specific to each project, while satisfying the client's needs, isn't always an easy task," Mickelson said. "Each project and client is different. Achieving your project goal is a continued challenge, one which requires hard work, dedication, and team effort. I like that."

Mickelson said she enjoys constantly learning new things and working with the many different people and organizations.

A social person, she especially likes the interaction with people.

"Working within an engineering team on a project requires a balance between completing your individual assignments, analyzing available information, and defining your results all within a required time frame and budget. Presenting your client with a viable design or report is always very rewarding," said Mickelson, who is interested in making a long-term commitment to her position at PND.

"I'm confident that the opportunities at PND and within the engineering profession will continue to match my overall goals and reward me with a satisfying and enjoyable career," she said.

As a woman in her work genre, the only time she has felt restricted due to her gender is dealing with materials testing equipment. "(It) can be very heavy, some old fashioned brute force would have been a big help!" she said. "However, I am fortunate to feel as though I am treated with fairness and respect, regardless of my gender."

Mickelson also deals with the constant struggle of balancing the demands of work and home that most couples face.

"Finding a good balance involves a lot of prioritizing and compromising," she said.

"I think open and honest communication is the key to honoring your commitments to your work and home life."

Mickelson also encourages women to be proactive in education and career choices.

"Enrolling in math and science courses during high school will help prepare you for an undergraduate engineering degree. Gaining hands-on experience by participating in internships and co-ops within the engineering field provides invaluable experience and insight into prospective field(s). Membership in professional societies during college can also prove beneficial," Mickelson said.

"There are so many different job opportunities, which can develop by having a civil engineering background, don't limit yourself. You can find a way to apply your education in a way that most definitely interests you."