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Celebrating National Engineers Week With Civil Engineer Vanessa Hines


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 engineer Vanessa Hines, PE, VP, from our Rochester office.

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

We worked on a redevelopment project in a downtown corridor. Under the building the contractor found an old tunnel that had been used to divert a creek. It had been long abandoned, but it was really interesting to see some of the building’s history and how problems were solved in the past.

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

To have vision that allows me to see underground infrastructure without digging anything up.

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

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You would be surprised how much you can learn by engaging your curiosity. Talk to people in the field, go on office tours, and try to get as much hands on experience as you can. I really enjoyed spending time with a Mankato student a few years ago during our Bridge Plaza video series.

What are your predictions for the future of engineering?

I’d love for the industry to move into a paperless era, where design, regulation, and construction can work together outside the confines of a plan set.

How does your work as an engineer impact your community?

I hope our work integrates safety, functionality, and value for all clients. We work very hard to think of the end user and to curate the best experience with the built environment.

What’s one thing that nobody knows about you?

In high school I wanted to be an architect. However, I attended Seattle University, which didn’t have an architecture program. My dad, who is an electrical engineer, encouraged me to pursue engineering. He said he knew from when I was two years old that I was going to be an engineer.

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

Well it depends where we have lunch, but I will definitely look up the menu before going and plan my order.


Vanessa and her husband Nate on a ferry in Maine.

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