Professional opportunities, personal commitment: Outside investment bolsters local careers, benefits the public
Lucas Reed, licensed professional engineer, knows the value of working close to home. His role as senior technical manager at Atkins has given the University of Oklahoma graduate the opportunity to stay in his home state, which in turn benefits from engineering expertise as more professionals continue to share their skills instead of relocating.
“Oklahoma is uniquely positioned as one of the main backbones of our country through the interstate system. As a central crossroads of the country, so much freight passes through Oklahoma going coast to coast, almost always through I-40 and I-35,” said Reed. “As a society, we cannot have goods and services delivered if we don't have a safe way to get there and transport items across the country.”
Atkins provides transportation related engineering design, construction and project management services. The firm’s headquarters is in Florida, a subsidiary of Canada’s SNC-Lavalin. While Atkins leads award-winning projects throughout the world, Reed sees its impact firsthand from his role in its Norman office.
“All Oklahomans should realize how important our roadway infrastructure is for daily transportation but also the delivery of goods throughout the country,” he explained. “Our roads and bridges have to be designed and built to last in an economical way, so it’s essential to have engineers at work here. I’m vested in my work because, bottom line, it keeps people safe.”
Originally from Lexington, Reed had the choice to leave the state as a registered civil engineer in Oklahoma, Texas and Florida. However, he chose to stay near family in Purcell as he and his wife, Lisa, raise their four children, ages 16, 14 and twins, 8.
“All of my family and my wife’s family are in Lexington and Purcell. Having family nearby to help with our children is a win as a working parent,” said Reed. “I worked for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) for 15 years. I was going to move up within ODOT, but we would have had to move farther away from home. Atkins made it possible for us to stay when we were at that decision-making juncture. What Oklahoma is at risk of losing if companies with out-of-state headquarters do not find a favorable business climate here is the ability to have innovation and industry collaboration with far-reaching effects on safety and efficiency. If you get rid of outside companies, you may be getting rid of national or global innovations, which benefit our state and the traveling public.”
Reed also sees the potential for inspiring future professionals as they see professionals at work.
“I hope having engineers in our communities does let students know about the possibilities open to them,” he said. “My oldest daughter loves math and seems to be really interested in engineering. One of my twins is the same way. Without the up and coming companies we have in Oklahoma, we wouldn’t always have a place for current and future engineers to go with their careers. I’m grateful to see opportunities for Oklahomans.”