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Ivy Xiongs work at AECOM helps improve flood resilience

Ivy Xiong's work at AECOM helps improve flood resilience

 June 27, 2024

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AECOM's People Spotlight series provides an inside look at the company's technical experts around the world.

Meet AECOM Senior Water Resources Engineer Ivy Xiong from AECOM's water resources group supporting the U.S. West region

Here, Ivy discusses her work on the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Southeast Connector Design-Build Project, where she’s conducting analysis on more than 14 bridges to improve flood resilience, and explains her successful and inspirational career with AECOM.

AECOM Senior Water Resources Engineer career

Dedicated to technical excellence

Ivy is a licensed professional engineer with 11 years of experience in civil engineering with a specialization in complex integrated 1D/2D hydrologic and hydraulic modelling. Currently based in Dallas in Texas, Ivy is dedicated to technical excellence in all her projects and brings a passion for knowledge growth and mentoring to the water resources group.

Ivy serves in multiple leadership roles, including ASCE Environmental and Water Resources Institute (EWRI) Dallas Chapter Outreach Chair, AECOM Dallas office Young Professional Committee Chair, and hiring lead for multiple departments in Surface Water.

Discovering a passion for water

AECOM Senior Water Resources Engineer career inspirations

Ivy shares that her inspiration to become an engineer came from both her family and her education. Ivy grew up in Beijing, at a time when there were many fast-growing cities in China. Both of her grandparents spent decades working as structural engineers on infrastructure projects, and they would take Ivy to their design institute where they had a big table filled with hand drawings. Ivy adds that at that time, AutoCAD did not exist.

"That exposure led me to realize I was interested in both the art of architecture and engineering sciences, and eventually I went to school to study water and wastewater engineering. During my senior year, I participated in an exchange program and was selected as one of the top two students to come to North Dakota State University, where I met a great mentor, and shifted into water resources. Over my studies, I found a passion for water. Water resources felt like a hybrid of art and science to me, and I have enjoyed the collaboration across disciplines that my career path has provided," says Ivy.

"Throughout my career and studies, I have been able to live in many places. From China to North Dakota, to California and now Texas. It has been inspiring to experience these different places and bring ideas and skills from each to new projects and challenges."

AECOM water resources

Providing cost-effective solutions to mitigate flooding issues

Ivy started working with AECOM two years ago as a Technical Reviewer and was quickly promoted to Case Manager for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Letters of Map Revision (LOMR) and Conditional Letters of Map Revision (CLOMR) review. Ivy has supervised over 100 cases for FEMA Region 6 (Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Oklahoma) in the past two years.

"Concurrently, I worked as the Hydrologic and Hydraulic (H&H) Lead Modeler for the TxDOT Southeast Connector Design-Build Project. This project has been one of the most rewarding and intense projects of my career, requiring the completion of H&H analyses and reports with over 500 pages within one year. Over 14 large bridges and 90 piers, and their accompanying drainage, had to be considered for this report, and I also had to work with the roadway to ensure that the drainage would function properly," comments Ivy.

"During the final design phase of the project, I developed a Hydrologic Engineering Center’s River Analysis System (HEC-RAS) two-dimensional (2D) unsteady flow hydraulic model to evaluate the drainage impact analysis for the proposed project within an extremely tight schedule. I worked very closely with the construction team and other stakeholders and when we shared the model with the client, we were able to provide cost-effective solutions to mitigate challenging flooding issues that could not be appropriately analysed using the traditional one-dimensional (1D) approach within FEMA floodplain for the project. I was awarded the AECOM Make A Difference Bravo Award for that work," Ivy recalls.

Helping the community to be more proactive

Across the different projects with AECOM, Ivy and her team have had the opportunity to leave positive impacts on the many communities that they've served. When Ivy is working with communities as a FEMA case manager, she can review a submittal and help inform clients as to what’s needed within a certain time frame. Not all clients are acquainted with the basics, so Ivy can lay out a plan to help them complete their project needs, and benefit local communities in the process.

"One specific project with a positive impact has been my work with the City of Garland, Texas. I was involved as the Drainage Reviewer in their program to mitigate storm water flooding. I was able to directly benefit the community by consulting with the city bond program management team to help guide their work and create a design that would best meet the criteria for their submittal," shares Ivy.

"We at AECOM take our quality control seriously, for ourselves and for our clients, and I felt that we really maintained that quality during the design phases of this project. We did our due diligence and used our knowledge to ensure the inlet and storm water system could mitigate the urban flooding issue, and ensure the drainage infrastructure was designed appropriately by the engineer consultants. If the community experiences flooding, that will lead to residents paying insurance out of their own pockets, but these solutions will help the community be more proactive."

A great piece of career advice from Ivy

AECOM Senior Water Resources Engineer career advice

For Ivy, it is important to be well-rounded as an engineer and to continue to build a ‘database’ of skills and experience across disciplines to help advance each individual's career. Ivy explains that it is important not to be shy about asking questions or seeking out mentors to help along the way.

"I’ve been very lucky to have a lot of great mentors through my journey from my family, my school, in the industry, or at different companies. They have always been willing to help and provide their unique perspectives to give me something new to consider," she says. 

"As an example, when I was a student, a mentor shared that even though you are an engineer you need to be skilled in business: it’s essential to explain your designs and business plan to others and provide a convincing case as to why you provide the better service. That planted a seed in my head and led me to pursue my MBA at the same time I received my Master’s Degree in Engineering. I entered my career with a unique perspective and was able to better understand the full picture of the company’s functions, including organizational behavior, economics and marketing. I think of all my skills as a framework for my career ‘database’, and I continue to find pieces to fill in the puzzle over time. I’m currently expanding my skill set with ongoing education in legal studies and construction management from the University of California, Berkeley, and I encourage the interns that I mentor to ask questions and be thoughtful about their own opportunities to expand their own 'databases.' "

AECOM engineering career

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