Faye Majekodunmi, PE
“We’re in the business of moving people, and knowing I did my part to connect families, especially during the holidays, is the most rewarding aspect of my job.”
As someone who’s naturally inquisitive and knows how important it is to never stop learning, it’s no wonder Faye Majekodunmi, PE, has accomplished all that she has in less than a decade in the workforce. With a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Temple University, a master’s in structural engineering from the University of Maryland, and a Professional Engineer license, she continues to make a positive impact at Gannett Fleming and in the transit and rail industry at large.
We asked Faye a few questions to get to know her:
How long have you worked in the transit and rail industry?
I have been part of this industry for a little over nine years on a winding path that eventually led me to railway electrification. I was first exposed to the rail industry as an intern at Amtrak and decided to pursue a career in construction to better understand what it takes to make a design come to fruition. However, after spending a few years in various rail construction positions within the Northeast Corridor, I became interested in catenary construction and ended up becoming Amtrak’s assistant division engineer of electric traction in New York.
Why Gannett Fleming?
Although I enjoyed the exciting, fast paced environment of railroad operations, I decided to transition my career from construction to design to better understand the “whys” and learn how other railroad agencies around the country build and maintain their infrastructure. With every submission, I continue to learn from the diversity of experience, expertise, and commitment to quality within Gannett Fleming.
How long have you been with the firm?
I have worked at Gannett Fleming for a little over two years, and as you can imagine, most of that time has been during the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, Gannett Fleming has shown its commitment to its employees with at-home setups that have made the transition to working remotely that much easier.
Tell us about your role at Gannett Fleming.
I am an OCS senior engineer in our Transit and Rail Corporate Business Group, and I can truly say each day is different. I work on everything from developing suggested construction sequencing for a transmission replacement project to catenary for an interlocking reconfiguration. Each project is an opportunity to better serve our clients and ensure our engineering solutions can be implemented into an active railroad environment with minimal impact to operations.
How does the firm support your professional development and career growth?
Our leadership has always been supportive of me advancing my knowledge of catenary design through one-on-one sessions with my supervisor. The firm also encourages professional development through involvement in organizations like Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) and American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association. My participation in WTS since 2014 has helped me grow tremendously and prepared me for my current role as the WTS Philadelphia director of student outreach.
Are you a member of any committees or employee resource groups at Gannett Fleming?
I am currently the communications chair on the Connected Women at Gannett Fleming™ steering committee. In this role, one example of my responsibilities is to ensure that our internal website is consistently updated to provide a nice welcome for new employees and inspiration for our Connected Ambassadors for future events.
What’s the most interesting project you’re working on right now?
Currently, I’m working on the MTA Eastbound Re-Route Design Build project, which will result in the construction of a below grade track structure used to connect Amtrak trains from New York’s Penn Station to the Hell Gate Line. This track structure will be located underneath one of the busiest railroad interlockings within the Northeast Corridor. Therefore, all the work must be planned within short outages to maintain railroad operation, which will require unique approaches to construction. This project is an amazing opportunity to further improve our design approach to ease construction.
What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job?
When designing within an active railroad and assessing feasibility, understanding the outage constraints is important. It’s challenging to ensure our designs adequately prepare our clients to mitigate risks during construction and provide the railroad with flexibility when long-term outages are not guaranteed. The most rewarding aspect is when those design documents become the new interlocking, bridge, or tunnel that is safely moving passengers from point A to B. We’re in the business of moving people, and knowing I did my part to connect families, especially during the holidays, makes it all worth it.
What does an average workday look like for you?
Fortunately, I can’t say I have an average workday. Some days I am in the office reviewing plans, crunching numbers, or coordinating with other disciplines. And other days I may be in the field confirming existing conditions or reviewing our submissions with our clients to ensure that our design meets their expectations in a timely and cost-efficient manner.
What do you see for the next generation of engineers?
Against the backdrop of the pandemic, the typical commuter has changed, and society has begun to refocus its lens on sustainable and equitable transportation solutions. As this focus evolves, I believe the next generation of engineers will be even further committed to ensuring that innovated transportation solutions minimize our carbon footprint, best connect communities to opportunity zones, and adequately support commuters equally.
What Gannett Fleming core value is particularly significant to you and why?
Teamwork is the secret sauce behind each submission. With every submission, we bring our diverse perspectives to the table and pull from our past experiences and technical expertise to develop an engineering solution we are all mutually accountable for and that reflects our team. Teamwork not only benefits our clients, but it also ensures that our staff is continuously learning and seeking ways to improve.
What’s one professional achievement you’re especially proud of?
During my time in New York as Amtrak’s assistant division engineer of the most congested division within the Northeast Corridor, I had the opportunity to execute a number of State of Good Repair projects from start to finish, lead construction crews through derailments and wire tear-outs, and support mega projects like Moynihan Train Hall and East Side Access – all challenging yet so rewarding.
What behavior or personality trait do you most attribute your professional success to and why?
I am genuinely an inquisitive person, and I have found that my curious nature has been helpful in gaining mentorship early on in my career, broadening my understanding of railroad operations, and understanding the concerns of our clients.
What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received?
When I joined Amtrak, I was told by a senior project manager to never stop learning, and never be afraid to ask a question. It will save a lot of confusion in the long run.
What’s your favorite hobby?
I love traveling. In addition to experiencing different tourist locations and cuisines, I utilize public transportation to observe the city from a unique perspective. Sometimes when you go to different cities, you only see the tourist traps, which are nice, but seeing the city from a transit bus or light rail system gives you the ability to experience the city as a local.
If you could pick up a new skill in an instant, what would it be?
Advanced computer programming is a skill I wish I had in this technological age where time is invaluable. Being able to create an algorithm or program that can further accelerate the design process or efficiently identify and mitigate risks is truly beneficial in our industry.
What’s your favorite family tradition?
In April 2022, I will be getting married to my best friend, and as a Nigerian American, my favorite family tradition is called the “Money Dance,” which occurs during weddings or parties. In Nigerian culture, the wedding reception guests surround the couple on the dance floor and place bills on the couple’s foreheads. This gesture symbolizes a showering of happiness, good fortune, and a display of the guests’ affection for the couple.
What do you do to turn things around when you’re having a bad day?
To clear my head, I go to the gym after work. A few minutes on a rowing machine or in a kick boxing class is a great way to reset and focus on what I can do to make tomorrow that much better. We cannot dwell on the bad. We just need to plan on how we can turn it around.