February 19, 2016
Get to know Sara Oliver, associate/project manager at Michael Baker International
Associate/Project Manager | Alexendria, VA
What is your role at Michael Baker?
Right now I am managing the World Trade Center Flood Resiliency Program Project which has been an extremely interesting and unique experience. I'm also transitioning to a new role on the Business Management Team on the FEMA CERC Project.
The WTC project is a fascinating example of Michael Baker International successfully working together across multiple disciplines and geographies. Originally the project started out as a hydraulic study that grew into a floodwall system design, construction support, hydraulic modeling and flood resiliency program development project. Through the project I have been lucky enough to work with technical experts and teams from the Irvine, Calif., Alexandria, Va., Pittsburgh, Pa., Philadelphia, Pa., and Rocky Hill, Conn. offices. I started working on the project when it transitioned to an engineering design project in 2014 and in the past few years I have learned more than I ever thought possible. Currently, I serve as the PM and main client contact for the project. Our final design package just went out to bid and will begin construction soon, the second design package is currently under construction, and we are also helping the PANYNJ with the development of the Basis of Design for the entire World Trade Center Flood Resiliency Program which involves three levels of defense (the first level being the Bollard Protection Designed by Michael Baker).
In January, I relocated from NYC to the Alexandria office. In the Alexandria office, I'll be working on the Business Management Team for the FEMA CERC Project. I've only just gotten started on that project but I am excited to dig in and get more involved!
What do you find most challenging about your job?
Effectively managing and prioritizing the various tasks, deliverables and project requests that pop up on a daily basis. That being said, that is what keeps things interesting.
What is the most rewarding project you've worked on?
The World Trade Center Flood Resiliency Program project has been career changing for me, but I was also lucky enough to work on the Tappan Zee Bridge Design Project. A few weeks after I started working at Michael Baker, my manager asked if I would be interested in working on the Tappan Zee Bridge. I immediately said yes and found myself at the HDR office in Pittsburgh for the next 6 months working on Construction Staging and Work Zone Traffic Control. I had worked on big projects before but the magnitude of this project as well as the aggressive schedule required a sense of urgency and efficiency of coordination between disciplines that was exhilarating to be a part of.
What does a typical day on the job look like for you?
It varies day to day, which I have come to enjoy. Typical tasks include (but are not limited to): Working on a plan set in AutoCAD, invoicing, a surprise conference call from our client with questions on a myriad of potential subjects, writing a section of the basis of design report for the Flood Resiliency Program, construction progress meeting with our client and the contractor, discussing the subsurface hydraulic model results with the Michael Baker folks in Irvine, reviewing shop drawings or calculations, or talking through unexpected issues on the construction site with our inspector, client, and/or contractor.
What made you want to pursue this career field?
To be honest, I applied to engineering schools because I like math and science so much better than every other subject. During my freshman year I took a half credit course summarizing example work projects of different engineering disciplines, and I thought civil engineering was interesting. I interned at Parsons Brinckerhoff in NYC the summer after my freshman year in college and I was hooked.
Now the fun stuff...
Favorite TV show?
San Antonio Spurs Basketball Games (I am a die hard, borderline unhealthily obsessed and loyal fan)
Last book you read?
The Passage of Power
by Robert Caro (author of The Power Broker
about Robert Moses- a book most enginerds, such as myself, love)
Number one thing on your bucket list?
Having dinner with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard, David Robinson, and Gregg Popovich
Winter or summer?
Summer, of course! I'm originally from San Antonio, Texas and I love the heat!