Jamie Atkinson, Civil Engineer

Where were you born (and raised, if different)?

I was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee.

When and why did you move to the Charlottesville/Albemarle area?

I came to Charlottesville in 2001 to start my college life in the engineering school at UVa.  After graduating, I got a job at a civil engineering firm downtown.  When my office closed in the spring of 2009, I transferred to the company’s corporate office in Chantilly and got to see what life in northern Virginia was like.  After a few months of dealing with a commute and high rent prices, I began looking for a way to get back down to Charlottesville.  I started working for the city in fall of 2010.

What neighborhood do you live in now?

I live in the Belmont neighborhood, which is a convenient short walk to City Hall to come to work every day.  That’s one thing I really enjoy about Charlottesville: it’s small enough that I can walk or take a bus to many places I need to go.  I try to avoid driving as much as I can help it.

Family (spouse, kids, etc.)?

I’m engaged to my beautiful fiance, Leslie, who finished her Ph.D. in art history at UVa last spring.  We met in Charlottesville about four years ago and have been together ever since, despite my living in northern Virginia for a while and her being abroad for months at a time on research trips to Italy.  We will be getting married here in April.

What is your alma mater and when did you graduate?

As I mentioned earlier, I attended UVa and graduated in 2005.

What were you doing before you came to work for the city?

At my previous job, I prepared site plans for a variety of land development projects.  We worked on a quite a few educational facilities and some subdivisions, although we certainly saw much less in residential development after the first few years I worked there.  Our responsibilities for plan preparation included site grading, drainage and stormwater management, utility layout, roadway and parking lot design, erosion and sediment control – pretty much designing everything outside the building that you’d typically see on construction projects.

Your job title is Civil Engineer – what, in your own words, would you say you do?

My job consists of reviewing site plans for development projects within the city to make sure that they conform with our local standards, city code requirements, and good engineering practice.  I also design and manage some capital improvement projects, particularly new sidewalk construction and neighborhood drainage improvements.  I also help administer our annual BMP stormwater facility inspections to ensure they are functioning as they should be.

What is the best part of your job? The most difficult part?

The best part about my job is seeing results in a community after completing a project.  I always enjoy hearing back from people who use and appreciate the improvements we make to the city’s infrastructure.  I’d say the most difficult part of the job is keeping track of the seemingly ever-changing regulations in stormwater management.

How does your job most directly impact the average person?

I like to think it impacts people in ways that they don’t consciously think about all the time, but would notice if there happened to be a problem.  If your yard doesn’t get flooded when it rains, then civil engineers have done their job.  But, if you live in the city and do experience flooding, give us a call and we’ll see if there’s any way we can help.

What is the most interesting project or work experience that you’ve had while with the city?

The sidewalk project we completed about a year and a half ago along Meadowbrook Heights Road was a fun learning experience for me, as it was the first such project I completed for the city and also the longest one I’ve managed to date.

What is a little-known fact about you?

I wear blue jeans all the time now, but I never did growing up.  I think the first pair I bought for myself was after college so that I could wear them to a job site for work.

What do you do outside of work hours – hobbies, etc.?

I always enjoy a good round of golf, a little bit of gardening, following the NFL and rooting for the Tennessee Titans, cooking, traveling, and playing most any sort of board or card game with friends.

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