We Can STEAM
8 min readDec 19, 2021

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Civil and Structural Engineer: Current Deputy Environmental Manager
Written By:
Kylie Cameron

Instagram: @jordie1989
LinkedIn:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/jordan-wolf-qisp/

Introduction📖

Jordan Wolf has a degree in Civil Engineering with a focus in Structural Engineering and currently is the Deputy Environmental Manager working on high speed rail at California Rail Builders (CRB).

High School📚

Jordan graduated in 2007 from Presentation High School in San Jose, California. Here she participated in the ACE (Architecture Construction and Engineering) Mentorship Program, was a competitive swimmer, and was a student council representative for her class. She also earned the award of Most Improved Junior Student. When we asked what classes she found helped her the most for her future she said, “All mathematics classes, science classes, [and] writing classes that assisted with general education.” Her favorite classes here were Trigonometry and Algebra. Jordan shared with us two tips that she has for current students, “ Shadow or do a mentorship so you know your choice in college major is right. I had always wanted to be an architect and until I did the ACE [Architecture Construction and Engineering] mentorship, did I realize I wanted to be a civil engineer. There’s so many different career paths or subsets that learning what’s out there was helpful.” Her second tidbit of advice was, “Don’t stress too much on perfect grades. I graduated with ~3.0 GPA and am still very successful!” Finally, we asked Jordan if there was an instructor who inspired her to pursue this field and she shared this with us, “ No one was confident in my goals to be an engineer, or dreams to build a bridge. Mr. Hutchinson, my high school math teacher, always encouraged me and was someone I needed in my corner, and he sparked the motivation in me to get to where I am today.”

College🎓

Jordan attended San Francisco State University and graduated in December of 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering focusing on Structural Engineering. She says her favorite parts of SFSU were that it “is powered by fuel cell energy and [it] was a commuter school. A lot of my classmates were adult working professionals going back to school. Seeing and studying with other people who have already been in the industry was very inspiring.” At SFSU, she was apart of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Member, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Member, and competed in the ASCE Mid-Pacific (MidPac) Concrete Canoe competition as the Project Manager for SFSU from August 2011 to May 2012. In the ASCE MidPac Concrete Canoe Competition she won 7th place overall and got 5th place for Project Management! She told us that the most important classes she took for her major in Civil Engineering were Hydrology & Hydraulics, Introduction to Engineering, Engineering cost analysis, Engineering Scheduling, Engineering Project Management, Construction Management, and AutoCAD. Her favorite classes consisted of Geotech Calculus 1, Calculus 2, Calculus 3, and Engineering Project Management. The toughest classes she had to take were her General Education classes, Solid Mechanics, C++, MATLAB, and Hydraulics. We asked Wolf who her favorite professor who she feels helped and or pushed her the most to be successful in this field and she said that for her, this person would be “ Dr. D’Orazio at SFSU. He was the Geotech teacher and senior project teacher who had real world experience. He always motivated me to ask ‘why’ and made me feel like my potential was seen.” Finally, when asked for any tips for anyone wanting to or currently pursuing this major, she said, “If going the civil route, or not pursuing a master’s or graduate degree, do not stress yourself out in getting perfect grades. More employers care about work experience than perfect grades. If going civil, get your EIT/PE as soon as possible. You can have a PHD in civil engineering, but that doesn’t benefit an employer if you cannot sign and stamp plans. Determine if you want to go public or private sector by the time you graduate or are career shopping. Shadow, intern, etc. as many places as possible to get an understanding of where you want to work. I thought I wanted to work for a structural firm, then realized I wanted to work for a site development firm. Employers will hire someone who worked part time during college over someone who didn’t. Work ethic is work ethic.”

Work👷‍♀️

In the past, Wolf worked as Senior Environmental Specialist, Assistant Engineer 2, and Assistant Engineer 1 all at Blair, Church & Flynn (BC&F) Consulting Engineers. Currently, Jordan works as the Deputy Environmental Manager for California Rail Builders and is working on High Speed Rail Construction Package 4. When asked for an overview of what she did in a day, Wolf said that she can be found, “ Sit[ing] in weekly coordination meetings, approv[ing] biological pre-construction surveys to obtain a new work area, clear[ing] work areas for construction, coordinat[ing] environmental staff of 20–50 persons (biologists, archaeologists, paleontologists, stormwater specialists, hazardous materials and waste specialists, geotechnical engineers, air quality specialists, civil engineers, etc.), prepar[ing] permit amendments, review[ing] construction drawings to confirm design requirements met, respond[ing] to agency comments on design and permit requirements, approv[ing] invoices and change orders, prepar[ing] memos and responses to High Speed Rail Authority letters and directives, and data analysis.” Her favorite projects that she’s worked on here include, “Tenaya Lodge Explorer Cabins — Fish Camp, CA (near Yosemite), Fresno Recycled Water Transmission Mains — Fresno, CA, Mono County Civic Center — Mammoth Lakes, CA, High Speed Rail (HSR) — Construction Package (CP) 4, Southern California Edison Charge Ready Program, Southern California Edison Catalina Island Million Gallon Tank Water Filtration System Operations and Maintenance Manual preparation, Herndon Widening — City of Clovis, Willow Widening — City of Clovis, Connect America Fund Permitting for Frontier Communications, San Joaquin Fish Hatchery — Department of General Services (State of CA), and PG&E Merced Utility Due Diligence.” When asked how she feels this job has helped her grow, Jordan said that her, “position as a consultant gave [her] the opportunity to touch quite a few projects of different sectors, scale, etc. and really find [her] passion and gain professional connections. [During Her] time as an assistant engineer, [she] realized there was a major gap in the industry of engineers aware of environmental regulatory requirements and was supported by [her] previous employer to fill this gap and create an environmental department. [Her] position at CRB working on HSR has pushed [her] understanding of regulatory requirements and compliance to a whole other level. The scale of the project, the amount of moving parts, the different subject matter experts, and in general “chaos” really helped [her] grow in my management skills, communication skills, and organizational skills.” We also wanted to know what made this career so engaging: what made Jordan want to keep coming back every day? She told us that the current project she’s working on inspires her the most, “The motivation that I am working on one of the largest infrastructure projects in the United States and I will be to see it become a great green transportation alternative for California.” Her workplace also inspires her, as she told us when she said, “ I am honored to work alongside, with, and adjacent to some of the brightest, smartest, and best in the civil engineering/construction industry. My colleague, the compliance manager of CP4, inspires me to be the best with over 20+ years as a woman in this industry.” In the future of this job, Wolf hopes to, “elevate [her] career and bid and win the future segments of HSR and benefit the program by implementing the lessons learned from CP4 [and] to cross over to the public sector and/or get into local politics so that professionals with real world experience, like [herself], can have a seat at the table and help make decisions about our community, it’s people and its infrastructure.” Something she wishes she would have known before entering this field is, “ Don’t be afraid to make a mistake, don’t be afraid to receive constructive criticism, and always push to keep learning. I was very headstrong in college and when I started my career, it took a lot of mistakes or what I now call ‘lessons learned’ to realize that development is an ever changing industry and if there’s an opportunity to improve as a person, employee, colleague, improve processes, procedures, or deliverables, you should strive to be better and keep learning.” She also wished she would have known that “Your life shouldn’t be 100% about work. You are more than an engineer, employee, etc. Find balance.”

Personal Life🎨

In her free time, Jordan enjoys painting, hiking, thrifting, swimming, playing with her daughter and helping her with her speech therapy. She also enjoys volunteering, and she volunteers through mentoring SFSU alumni and at Clovis Unified special education. As for side projects, Jordan enjoys, “Assisting friends/social media followers in selection of properties, or potential homes from an engineer’s point of view reviewing general plan information, infrastructure information, etc. [and] mentoring and inspiring young women to have their voices heard.”

Conclusion🚀

To conclude our interview, we asked Jordan a couple more final questions, the first being, why do you love your job in STEAM? Jordan responded, “ I get to be a part of something positive you can see. You can drive by it and say I did that, all while protecting the environment and advancing green infrastructure.” Then, we asked her if she ever faced any challenges or set-backs along her STEAM path. Wolf said that she was “was consistently told I wouldn’t make it as an engineer. I wasn’t the top student, I wasn’t the smartest, I was a woman in engineering, and young. Not allowing the assumptions of the people around me to unmotivated me.” and that “Finding home/work life balance as a single mom to a special needs’ kiddo.” also proved to be challenging at times. Jordan also wanted to share with us two questions that her corporate parent company, Ferrovial Engineering, had asked her and she though were insightful (and we do too!)

  1. What advice do you have for young girls who want to study engineering?
  • “Keep moving forward no matter how hard it gets and don’t allow the nay-sayers to rent any space in your head. You don’t need straight As, you don’t need to be the smartest, you only need to be the one willing to learn, to grow, and the one that never gives up. In the end, all that hard work is worth it to see something you helped design come to life.”

2. Why should young girls study engineering or STEM-related fields?

  • “Women deserve a seat at the table and currently there are not enough women at it. Women are inherently good at critical thinking, multi-tasking, and have an attention to detail that is vital to engineering and STEM related industries. Engineering is a great career that is stable, profitable, satisfying, and necessary for our society to function. A career in engineering not only benefits the girl, but also her family, her community and the world. Girls deserve to be a part of changing the world, and future generations deserve a world built jointly by men and women.”

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We Can STEAM

✨We Can is a student-lead publication organization amplifying the voices of women in STEAM