As Kitchell Contractors builds the Catalina Street parking garage, hardison/downey builds the Novus parking garage and Kitchell CEM manages the largest parking garage in the City of Chandler, Kitchell is in some way involved in three major parking structures taking shape throughout metropolitan Phoenix. The City of Chandler recently marked a big milestone with its topping out, while recognizing the contributions of a team uniquely comprised of many women, including Kitchell CEM Senior Project Engineer Ashlee Pounds.
“We poured the last part of five floors of concrete parking deck (16 separate pours in total) and celebrated the hard work of the team,” Ashlee said. “We didn’t miss one scheduled date for the pours, which is rare on a job this size. One issue we recognized early on was the approaching summer heat, so we started the pours at midnight with a noise variance and actively communicated with all the neighbors.”
Ashlee may consider her role par for the course, but the City of Chandler took notice of the female dominance of the building team and actively promoted their participation in community newspapers and a TV news story that aired recently. In addition to Ashlee, the client, general contractor and structural engineer are all young building professionals, who also happen to be female. Ashlee has been part of the team since the design phase and works closely with the project team on the day-to-day tasks, sitting in on the budget discussions and meetings.
“Seeing females in hard hats is less an anomaly today than it has been, but we are still definitely in the minority,” Ashlee was quoted as saying in the SanTan Sun News. “There are more and more women coming into our industry and finding that sun and dirt isn’t only for the boys.”
While working on this project, Ashlee also achieved her professional civil engineering license. She fell into project management after obtaining her degree in mining engineering from the University of Arizona, but realized mining engineering wasn’t going to hold her interest for very long. “That lifestyle – middle of nowhere, no grocery stores nearby – wasn’t for me.” She started with a civil design job but knew she didn’t want to be tied to a desk, and fortuitously ended up at Kitchell.
“It’s a good day when I’m up, walking around and seeing the progress made around me,” she said. “You really see the hard jobs when you’re on-site – the carpenters and concrete guys put in so much effort and it shows in the quality. Being around that hard work every day inspires me to put that effort into everything I do – both inside and outside of work.”
By just going about her job and without recognizing her unique role in this project, Ashlee is inherently demonstrating our Kitchell values of quality and integrity.