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Faces of Freese and Nichols: Alison Richins, PE

August 08, 2019

This is the second part in a series spotlighting the people who make Freese and Nichols what it is today. Read the first part here.

Alison Richins, PE, got her first taste of transportation engineering working for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation while attending Oklahoma State University.

She loved working in the OSU Roadway Design Squad, which gives college students hands-on experience designing ODOT projects. But more importantly, she loved the lifelong connections she made there with her future transportation colleagues.

 “So many people in the Oklahoma transportation industry got their start in the OSU Roadway Design Squad,” she said.  “It’s truly a special program, and I am glad to call myself an alumna.”

It was through this shared connection that she met Freese and Nichols Oklahoma Division Manager Tricia Hatley.

Originally from Fort Smith, Arkansas, she spent years visiting Oklahoma on vacation and for the weekend.  She took up the opportunity to study at OSU, and she’s been an Oklahoman ever since.

“Everyone in Oklahoma is really friendly. It’s not as fast paced as a lot of places, so people take the time to talk to each other and help each other out,” she said. “Even the people you work with aren’t just business relationships; they’re your family and friends.”

Outside of the office, she’s a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. When she’s not working, she enjoys hiking and rocking climbing in the Wichita Mountains near Lawton, OK.

What kind of projects do you typically work on?

I do roadway design on highway and municipal projects all over Oklahoma.  A lot of my projects have been rehabilitation and reconstruction work where I’m just trying to stretch every dollar as far as it can go for the client to increase safety.

I also do quite a bit of construction phasing and traffic control design for various types of roadway and bridge projects.  And I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely apologize for all the cones and traffic jams.  I promise it was necessary, and it’s going to look great once the project’s done!

How did you get to Freese and Nichols?

I got acquainted with Oklahoma Division Manager Tricia Hatley and Senior Transportation Engineer Paul Green through our shared connection to the OSU Roadway Design Squad. I just really clicked with them and their passion for Freese and Nichols made it clear I would fit in with their team.

How does Freese and Nichols compare to other firms in Oklahoma?

Freese and Nichols has so many resources for design. A lot of firms in Oklahoma only work in Oklahoma, which can make it where you don’t get a lot of new perspectives. With Freese and Nichols having offices not just in Oklahoma but throughout the United States, you end up with lots of new and innovative ideas. But what I love about Freese and Nichols is that they have Oklahomans taking the best of these ideas and tailoring them to exactly what our Oklahoma clients need. 

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

I love getting to help the communities I live in.  It really helps you stay invested in each and every project.  It’s great getting to talk to the community to hear their goals and figure out different options that can help them reach those goals. 

How do you handle adversity?

Increased communication.  A lot of times, when a project gets tough, communication is the first thing to fall off.  Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees.  But if everyone is on the same page, your team can help catch things and just be more effective.

What’s your favorite part about working at Freese and Nichols?

I think how focused they are on employees reaching their career goals. You get to be in charge of your own path, but they have provided every resource you need to get there. Everyone truly wants you to succeed and will share whatever knowledge they have to help you.

What’s your advice for young professionals trying to get into the industry?

If you get the opportunity to try something new, take it. Best case scenario, you’ll find a new passion.  Worst case scenario, you’ll get a better overall understanding of a project. I’ve certainly got a few oddball things on my resume, but it’s made me a better engineer because of it.

See Also:

Faces of Freese and Nichols: Leslie Goode