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Engineering director, Rail Division STV
By Julie Sneider, Senior Associate Editor
A railroad career hadn't crossed Amanda Jones' mind while she was growing up in Jacksonville, Fla., even though her hometown was headquarters for a number of railroad companies.
But, during her sophomore year at the University of Central Florida, Jones accepted an internship with HDR Engineering, where she was assigned to work in the rail bridge group. Although the engineering student was supposed to rotate among all engineering disciplines at the firm that summer, she never left rail.
"Railroading was so outside of anything I was being taught in school — most of our professors would focus on highways and the DOT side of engineering," says Jones. "But the fact that I was working with a great group of people who were willing to teach me everything they knew about railroading piqued my interest. I couldn't see myself doing anything else."
Upon graduation in 2003, Jones signed on full time with HDR. After a short stint working in utility design, she moved to HDR's rail division in Jacksonville, where she worked on bridge design and inspection for various clients, including CSX.
By 2012, Jones was ready to advance her career, and moved on to become senior bridge engineer at STV Inc. In addition to performing design calculations and quality assurance reviews, Jones served as a project manager as part of general engineering consultant contracts with CSX and other rail clients.
In 2015, STV promoted Jones to her current position — railroad bridge group leader — a role that has her overseeing a team of six employees who support freight clients on the East Coast. She also mentors some of the junior engineers.
"I feel like I'm bridging the gap between the experienced railroaders who've been doing this for a really long time and a newer generation of folks. I'm a hybrid of the two," says Jones. "I respect the tradition and history of railroading, but also, with the millennial generation, we're seeing a lot of fresh ideas."
Jones' advice to those younger engineers? Embrace the industry's challenges by "thinking outside the box." And don't be afraid to work hard.
"There's a famous quote I love that says, 'I'm a great believer in luck, and the harder I work, the more I have of it.' I don't know who said it, but I've always believed that the harder you work, things will happen for you."
Another bit of advice for the up-and-comers: Love what you do.
"I feel if I'm not enjoying what I'm doing — whether that's in my career or my personal life — then I must not be doing it the right way," says Jones, the mother of a 7-year-old daughter and 2-year-old twin boys. "I step back often and look at how everything is functioning, then make changes when I need to so that nothing suffers. No, it's not always perfect. But it works for me."
Bernando Ayala Jeff Bernstein Andrea Berry–Morris Kristina Brevard Matt Campbell Allison Fayfich Jon Gabriel Greg Godfrey Christopher Howard Amanda Jones Michael Keller Gretchen Kostura Jeremy Kramer Leslia LeMaster Wilson Mike Logan Kylie McLaughlin Kate O'Connor Rapik Saat Darin Selby Jerry Vaughn