Meet R&M: Project Engineer Morgan Welch, PE

May 16, 2018

Morgan has been a civil engineer with R&M since 2009, working on projects in our Surface Transportation, Utilities and Site Development Groups. He has worked on numerous projects in design and construction, and is highly efficient in the use of AutoCAD Civil 3D. Through his active involvement in construction, Morgan has gained practical knowledge which he implements in his subsequent designs.

Currently, Morgan is the lead civil engineer on the Boniface Parkway Pavement Preservation project, responsible for developing the plans, specifications and estimate (PS&E), and Design Study Report to bring the roadway into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Morgan is also designing the access road, site grading, water main and fire protection system for the Petroleum Cement Terminal project under the Port of Alaska Modernization Program.

Why civil engineering?
I love problem solving. The harder a challenge, the more interested I am in finding ways to solve it. Math has always been a subject I enjoy.

Favorite Project?
Designing the FMATS Pedestrian Improvements and Peger Road Resurfacing project in Fairbanks was a great experience. Before construction, I watched pedestrians and bicyclists regularly use the road shoulders and ditches as their path. We designed nearly two miles of pathway and sidewalk, providing connected pedestrian facilities for four streets, in addition to roadway upgrades. After construction, it was fulfilling to watch users of all abilities walking and biking along the routes we worked hard to design.

The project was designed on an accelerated schedule and had many challenges. I attended weekly construction project meetings in Fairbanks (on the night shift), learning how contractors use our designs in the real world, on-grade and how teamwork is crucial to problem-solving. We were able to prepare a bulletproof solution, while still including ways to help our client account for unexpected surprises in the field.

Why R&M?
My father has been a general contractor in Alaska my whole life. He was friends with John Magee and Frank Rast, veteran R&M’ers. After working around Anchorage as a laborer on different commercial construction jobs for four summers, I landed an internship with R&M in 2009. Due to my relationship with John and Frank, I had decided I wanted to work at R&M and nowhere else. My family actually had to work to convince me to apply at other firms as a backup plan “just to say I did.” Eight years later, I am glad it wasn’t necessary!

At R&M, I enjoy working across the different discipline groups within the firm’s Civil Engineering Department and learning from our senior experts. And R&M’s family culture is something we should never take for granted. In a small state such as Alaska, R&M’s great reputation has taken a long-time to earn, and our company-wide dedication and style works hard to keep it that way. A work-life balance is crucial to a healthy, sustainable lifestyle as an engineer and I love that R&M values that.

How do you encourage young people to consider careers in engineering?
I’m always excited to talk with students in high school or college who are interested in engineering. I like to hear what classes they like (and don’t like), and try to give advice or encouragement where I can. I have a few friends in the UAA engineering program. I remind them to stay motivated and in the end, hard work will always pay off in one way or another.

Professional Organizations and Volunteerism
I am actively involved in several engineering professional organizations – Institute of Transportation Engineers, American Public Works Association and American Society of Civil Engineers. I try to branch outside of engineering to marketing and events in other industries to better understand our state and Anchorage’s economic landscape. There is always a learning opportunity when you broaden your exposure to different perspectives. I love to get out and hear what other professionals are up to.

Fun Facts:
Music is a large part of my life. I play drums for several bands around town. I’ve played in Mr. Whitekeys’ Whale Fat Follies and Christmas in Spenard shows for five years! Music is a great artistic counterbalance to the engineering profession.

In the winter, you can see me playing on the R&M hockey team, vacationing in Mexico or playing music gigs around town. In the summer, I love hiking in the Chugach Mountains, trail running around Anchorage, riding motorcycles, and we can’t forget about all of the ongoing home improvement projects!