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Celebrating National Engineers Week With Civil & Water Resources Engineer Kirsten Plath


DiscoverE is the backbone organization behind National Engineers Week and several other engineering related programs. Its mission is to get students excited about careers in engineering. To celebrate Engineers Week, February 18-24, 2024, we decided to sit down with five Widseth engineers and ask them about their profession, the future of engineering, and what advice they have for students. This post features civil and water resources engineer Kirsten Plath, PE, from our Alexandria office.

What’s the most unusual or interesting thing you’ve encountered during a project?

In 2016, we were installing a sanitary sewer on Kenwood Drive in Alexandria, and we ran into a large concrete wall underground in the right-of-way. I don’t know if we ever figured out what it was from, but we left it in place and adjusted the sewer a bit to get around it.

If you could have a superpower that would help you be a better engineer what would it be?

I’d go with either self-duplication or teleportation. It would save a lot of time and make it a breeze to check out job sites that aren’t nearby.

This year’s theme for Engineers Week is ‘Welcome to the Future!’ What advice do you have for students considering a career in engineering?

My advice would be to shadow different types of engineering professionals. This hands-on experience will provide a solid understanding of the day-to-day responsibilities associated with various engineering roles which will hopefully help in deciding which engineering career to pursue.

What are your predictions for the future of engineering?

I predict that we will see a significant increase in GIS integration and the use of even more technology than we use now. I think automation through programs will play a larger role, making processes more efficient. Despite these advancements, maintaining face-to-face integration with clients, conducting construction observation, and enhancing field-to-office communications through video conferences will remain essential for a well-rounded approach.

How does your work as an engineer impact your community?

People often don’t realize the various aspects influenced by engineering. From determining culvert and bridge sizing or managing watermain, storm sewer, and sanitary sewer systems, through underground pipes to the roads we drive and sidewalks we walk. Essentially, civil engineering plays a crucial role in numerous aspects of day-to-day life.

What’s one thing that nobody knows about you?

When I was a middle schooler, I jumped ship from the girls’ softball team to play baseball with the boys for a couple of years. Perhaps a bit of foreshadowing that I’d end up in the field of engineering, which is predominantly male.

If I were to have lunch with you what would you order?

My go-to is a burger and fries, specifically the Ripping Razz burger at DJ’s Tap House & Grill in Alexandria.


Kirsten, her husband, and three kids.

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