Careers, Energy, Environment

If you’ve ever seen an archaeologist describe how she felt when her team discovered a new cultural site, or a paleontologist recount his thrill over finding a fossilized footprint, you know the passion that field scientists have for their work. It’s inspirational and infectious, and it reminds me why I went into science all those years ago. As a project manager at AECOM, I love to see my team members doing the work they love with dedication and excitement.

Crews Ready to Deploy_690X355Alaska LNG archaeological crews take a group shot before deploying by helicopter to remote field study areas.

Since 2013, I’ve been fortunate to lead the AECOM project team for the Alaska Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Project, 2015 recipient of the AECOM Excellence Award for Delivering Technical Excellence. Alaska LNG comprises the development and construction of an 800-mile-long natural gas pipeline stretching from the North Slope of Alaska to the Kenai Peninsula, crossing some of the most remote, beautiful and wild country on earth. AECOM’s role as prime environmental and regulatory contractor is to conduct baseline environmental studies for this proposed $65-billion project; implement stakeholder engagement programs that tie the project to local Alaskan communities and cultures with a shared vision; conduct socioeconomic and subsistence analyses that assess the potential benefits and consequences of the project on Alaskan life; and provide general support that the project requires to move forward. In short, we’re the go-to people for designing the studies, generating the data and writing the reports that are fundamental to this early stage of Alaska LNG. As an Alaskan, it is a privilege to be part of a project that is so critical to the economic future of my great state.

Fish shocking_690x355A fish crew uses an electro-shocker to collect fish specimens. Fish are released unharmed after being identified, measured and counted.

AECOM and subcontractor personnel from Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, California, Montana and beyond have supported this project. Our diverse team includes archaeologists, anthropologists, fishery and wildlife biologists, hydrologists, geologists, engineers, economists, sociologists, noise specialists, air quality specialists, paleontologists and more, all focused on providing excellent service to our client. We have over one hundred professionals doing high quality technical work, providing real-time data, and doing so efficiently and safely. That’s what AECOM brings to our project.

Working in mosquitoes_690x355An Alaska LNG archaeologist screens soil for evidence of a cultural site among swarms of mosquitoes.

Alaska LNG is one of the largest projects that AECOM has ever executed in this state. This year alone, our team has logged over 200,000 personnel hours, driven over 140,000 miles, and flown over 1,100 helicopter hours to conduct our work, and it has all been done safely, with no serious injuries or incidents. In fact, we’ve even received awards from our client in recognition of our safety performance. For our team, that safety record is a point of pride, and it is also an exceptional achievement. AECOM is committed to ensuring the safety of our people, our clients, the public, and the environment, and our ability to safely execute a program of this magnitude is the singular most important element of our success. Every day, our people work in some of the most challenging conditions on earth, but we never stop thinking about safety. We never quit looking for better and safer ways to conduct our work. We have worked hard to achieve a Culture of Safety on our project, and it shows. Nobody gets hurt.

Now that feels like success.

Mike Gray_Headshot_bw_89x100Mike Gray, senior program manager, AECOM Design and Consulting Services, Americas, leads the Alaska LNG Regulatory and Environmental Support Project in Anchorage, where he has lived and worked since 1994. Gray has a wife and two sons, and enjoys spending time outdoors with family and friends.

Originally published Nov 11, 2015

Author: Mike Gray