Civil Engineering: Graduate Profiles

A Tinkerer Becomes A Visionary

As a boy, Ted Mercer, senior design engineer in the Chassis Group at Freightliner, wanted to see how mechanical things worked. He started tinkering while he worked on farms. That curiosity brought him to PCC’s Civil and Mechanical Engineering Technology and General Engineering programs.

“They teach you how to learn and they flat out care,” he says. He felt well prepared when he continued his education at the Oregon Institute of Technology where he completed his bachelors degree in mechanical engineering technology.

At Freightliner, his nine-person team is responsible for chassis design for the trucks of the future. “I’m the visionary but my team makes me successful. I like the challenge of new ideas. We head for the direction and find a happy medium.”

Road to Success Paved in Asphalt for Quality Assurance Technician

Barbara Worbington

Barbara Worbington began her career as a quality assurance technician for the Oregon Department of Transportation after graduating from PCC’s Civil and Mechanical Engineering Technology program. At first, her days were filled specialized training classes that ODOT paid for. Now she tests concrete, aggregate, asphalt and soils, and makes sure the samples she takes are correct, meeting specifications for the job. Worbington enjoys the variety of being outside and in the lab. Being a certified technician means that she will be in demand on projects all over the country where transportation technicians are needed.

“I want to keep learning. Book work, paperwork, lab work, and testing have to be to the letter because important decisions are made based on a tech’s results,” she says. “This is a great opportunity. Now I’m working on the Hwy 217 – I 5 interchange redesign and the Ross Island Bridge project. If I can do it as a single mom, anyone can. I’ve earned my own home!”

From Single Mom on Welfare to Lead Lab Technician

Karrie Eixenberger

Karrie Eixenberger figured she had two years to get a job. After investigating several programs at PCC where she could pursue her interest in engineering, she decided the Civil and Mechanical Engineering Technology program looked like it had the best earning potential.

At AGRA Earth and Environmental, Eixenberger is responsible for testing soil, asphalt, concrete and aggregate. “The samples I run help engineers decide if a building site is safe from landslides and pollutants.” Clients she works with include the Oregon Department of Transportation and the City of Portland.

She enjoys her work so much that she plans to continue taking engineering courses and maybe work in management one day.

Injured Construction Worker Finds New Career

Dick Swanson

Dirk Swanson faced an uncertain future. He was injured while doing construction work. After recovering, he decided to enter the Civil and Mechanical Engineering Technology (CMET) program at PCC to prepare for the management side of construction, a career shift that made sense to him.

He chose PCC’s program because it “offered the best bang for the buck. It provided just what I needed and gave me lots of options. Every class was relevant. I knew I could do any job that came to me.”

As an assistant project manager for Temp Control Mechanical, he has had plenty of opportunities to do just that, working on contracts with companies like Intel, Hewlett-Packard, the Port of Portland and now Adidas. He worked on the Portland Airport expansion project where he was responsible for HVAC and piping system installation.

“PCC’s CMET program taught me persistence: to do what it takes to be successful in the workplace.”