Civil engineering alumna is PNW’s Engineer of the Year

Few can say they landed the job that set them on their career path right out of college. But civil engineering alumna Wendy (Weix) Christensen can.

Wendy Christensen
Wendy Christensen, right, receives the Pacific Northwest Engineer of the Year award.

“I was fortunate enough to interview on campus with the Bureau of Reclamation during my senior year, even though I had no idea what they did at the time,” Christensen said.

In recognition of Christensen’s work on a U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation water resources project in the Yakima Basin, she has received the 2016 Pacific Northwest Region Engineer of the Year award.

From CSU to Bureau of Reclamation

Christensen began working in the bureau’s Lakewood office as a flood hydrologist in July 1990, just after graduating from Colorado State University with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. More than 26 years later, she is still with the bureau, and has had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects and sections of the organization, including hydraulics, fish passage, pumping plants and canal systems.

A technical projects program manager for the Pacific Northwest Region, Christensen is responsible for planning and implementation of water resource solutions on large-scale projects in Washington, Oregon, northern Idaho and western Montana.

Yakima Basin work

One of those projects is the Yakima Basin Integrated Water Resource Management Plan, a 30-year, $3-5 billion dollar effort that identifies a comprehensive approach to water resources and ecosystem restoration improvements for fish passage and habitat, and agricultural and municipal water supplies.

Christensen has played a crucial role in moving the project forward, and was instrumental in creating working relationships with and understanding the needs and interests of all stakeholders. The award recognized her work with the Yakima Basin.

CSU education

Wendy Christensen
Wendy Christensen at her CSU graduation in 1990.

Christensen credits her education at CSU for helping her develop communication skills critical to her responsibilities as a technical projects program manager. “The transition from theoretical knowledge to application was very smooth and effortless. I’m grateful for a well-rounded education that taught me the technical knowledge and communication skills I need to successfully implement water resource solutions.”