Amber Forrest always knew she wanted to be an engineer. She excelled in math and physics courses in high school, and although the engineering profession was dominated by men, her career choice seemed natural to her, since her father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were all engineers or in engineering-related occupations.
Amber was one of only 10 women graduating with a Texas A&M civil engineering degree in December of 2002, but when she began work at R. G. Miller Engineers as an engineering associate the following year, she never felt out of place. “Everything was based on performance, and I was always treated equally and with respect,” she says.
She earned her professional engineering license in 2006 and is currently a project manager in the Transportation Department.
Amber became interested in transportation engineering in college, where she worked in summer internships with the Hearne area office of the Texas Department of Transportation. While working at RGME, she has completed various PS&E packages for TxDOT, the Harris County Toll Road Authority, and multiple cities and counties. Her design experience includes developing final roadway design, storm sewer and detention pond design, retaining wall, utility coordination, constructability/safety review and construction phase services.
Beginning in the spring of 2017, Amber was the project manager responsible for the design of multiple TxDOT projects for the Yoakum, Laredo and Odessa Districts. All of the projects are currently under construction with a total construction cost of $150 million.
Most recently, she has been working on a series of roadway projects funded by the 2017 Galveston County Bond Program, for which RGME is acting as program manager. The program includes 17 road projects and two drainage projects in various cities throughout the county. The $80 million effort began in 2018 with design anticipated through 2021 and completion by 2024.
RGME services for this program include preparing a preliminary project scope for each project to define the services that will be needed from individual engineering design consultants; monitoring and documenting the progress of each project; managing, reviewing and facilitating delivery of construction contract documents for bidding through the county purchasing department; and monitoring the work of the design consultants during the construction phase.
“The challenge of managing 17 separate project teams with construction sites in different cities throughout the county has been consistent open communication,” Amber says, noting that RGME has met that challenge through developing clear scopes of work with each design consultant, implementing a robust electronic documentation system, communicating regularly with each project consultant team, and conducting weekly meetings to cover project status and any outstanding issues with the county engineering staff.
Amber appreciates the fact that she has been able to work on such major projects at RGME. “I have been afforded so many opportunities to grow as an engineer here,” she says. “The projects have been diverse, and several are high profile across the state. It has been a great experience for me.”
She says an added benefit is that RGME is a family-friendly firm. Amber and her husband, Chris, have two young daughters – Avery 11, and Taylor, 9. “R. G. Miller has been wonderful in that they are encouraging and supportive as far as family life is concerned. It’s just a great company to work for.”