Utility Coordination is like a puzzle, each project is different and you’re constantly figuring out how the pieces and parts go together.
Who is Cathy?
Cathy has been with Etica Group for 12 years and is currently the senior project manager for the utility coordination department. Outside of work she spends most of her time with her daughter, who will be graduating high school and going to college this fall. When Cathy has down time, she enjoys relaxing and researching genealogy, the study of family, family history and the tracing lineages.
Family is a big part of Cathy’s life, and it is reflected in her work. When she isn’t at home with her family, she’s building relationships with various engineering firms. One of her favorite aspects of her job is getting to talk to different types of people. She has learned over the years to go into every conversation with an open mind, truly listen to what they say, and try to understand where they’re coming from to help find the best solution.
What is Utility Coordination?
It is the process the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) and Indianapolis DPW has outlined to ensure the utilities are onboard during the engineering design process of a project. The objective is to minimize the need for relocation of utilities during construction, which can lead to delays and added expenses.
What does a typical day to day look like for Cathy?
Every day is different, which keeps her interested in this field. There are some days where she has a list of everything that needs to get accomplished, and leaves with nothing crossed off. It consists of a lot of phone calls and emails to different INDOT, utility representatives, and other engineering firms regarding teaming opportunities and projects we are currently working on.
What does Utility Coordination have to do with Engineering?
There is never a project just alike, Utility Coordination is a lot of juggling and figuring out how each of the moving parts work together. The purpose of a Utility Coordinator is to alleviate risks of conflict during an infrastructure improvement project. When this important step is overlooked in the design process, it may lead to extra expenditures and delays for the project.
How do you keep up with the ever-changing requirements of Utility Coordination?
INDOT makes changes and improvements every 2 years and have classes to educate you on the changes. When you have been in the role for as long as Cathy has, you learn to ask clarifying questions. Contractors have said her favorite question to ask on a job site is “Whatcha doin?” Asking questions helps ensure the design plans are getting executed the correct way the first time.
What advice would you give women who want to enter the engineering field?
There are times where you will not always get taken seriously, always go into your meetings overly prepared, hold your head up high, and sound confident. It is just as important to ask clarifying questions, when you don’t know the answer to a question and then, follow up in a timely manner when you have the answer, better to be accurate later than incorrect in the moment.