Engineering consulting is a people business. Every contract we sign is a commitment to provide our clients with access to our highest value resources: our employees. Our Spotlight series shines a light on the unique and talented individuals who help us deliver timely, quality aviation and municipal engineering and planning projects throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Samantha Peterson, ACE joined Century West in 2014 after 4 years in airport operations, including most recently at Spokane International Airport. Samantha is now one of our Senior Aviation Planners and Project Managers, overseeing airport master planning projects for various airports in WA, OR, UT, and NV. Beyond her airport planning duties, Samantha helps support our Airport Engineering staff in environmental, design, construction administration, and other administrative tasks including grants, DBE programs and goals, and general airport management support.
We asked Samantha to talk to us about what drew her to Century West and why our company continues to be a perfect fit for her.
What was it about Century West Engineering that drew you to the company?
What drew me to Century West was their commitment to training and personal growth within the organization. The company has focused on my strengths and actively sought out avenues for my success. I started as an Airport Planner in 2014 and I found myself drawn to client engagement and organizational responsibilities. I spoke with Matt Morkert, who was aware of my goals and gladly gave me opportunities to attend conferences in order to hone those talents. I really took to it and am now on the board of a few aviation organizations. Although you might be hired for a certain position, the management at Century West is dedicated to your success and offers opportunities for you to tailor the position to your unique skill set. Which is incredibly helpful for people like me, who are hired early in their careers and still in the process of discovering their true potential.
What has kept you at Century West?
For me, it’s the work-life balance, the flexible schedules and the company’s management team that supports me. Since I started, I have had two beautiful children and the company has never let it affect or slow down my professional growth and opportunities.
You mentioned you are on the Board of a few Aviation organizations, can you tell us more about that?
I have served on the Washington Airport Management Association (WAMA) Board for the past 3-4 years, serving as the Secretary, now a Board Member and Conference Chair. WAMA is a group that kicked off my career in 2009 as an Airport Management Intern for two airports. I can whole-heartedly say these aviation management professionals that I have built relationships with over the past 14 years have become a second family.
I have also been on the Washington Small Community Airports Association (WSCAA) Board for the past couple years as the Treasurer and now Secretary. Although a smaller group of professionals, this organization allows me the opportunity to help airports with limited staffing and resources. Those who have other main jobs but happen to manage an airport. I love being a resource or a connection to help support our airport staff.
The WAMA Conference was last week, how was it? And what does your role look like?
It was great. It’s a big opportunity for those working in aviation to network, build relationships, and learn from other experts in the industry. We won Project of the Year at the Awards banquet for the 3rd year in a row for the Port of Benton Richland Airport Runway and Taxiway Electrical Replacement Project. Century West is a big supporter of the conference; we were a Platinum Sponsor and hosted the Joint Base Lewis–McChord (JBLM) luncheon. We also hosted a client appreciation dinner while we were there. We are grateful for our clients and their trust in us, it’s nice to get together and say thank you when we have the opportunity.
As part of the Board, WAMA is a year-round effort for me, so it’s exciting to see it come to life. I put together the conference details, the hotel, the agenda, printed materials, on-site assembly and more, with help of Dianna Wakefield from the Port of Pasco. I also help facilitate the president’s role. The position rotates annually so I coordinate the transitions. I’m currently working on the 2024 conference and we’ve just started planning 2025 as well. I hope I’ve inspired you all to come next year!
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in pursuing a career in Airport Planning?
Airport planning is a career path that most college students have never heard of and know little about. There really isn’t an “airport planning degree”, just often airport planning coursework within other aviation programs. However, it really provides a solid foundation of knowledge of airport design and standards, as well as provides the flexibility to work either at airports, as engineering and planning consultants, or with state and federal agencies.
What are your interests outside of work?
Outside of work, my life is consumed by my 4-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son. What some may not know about me is I am a licensed pilot, and my husband is a CFI. We are both aviation nerds, as he was the Airport Director for Yakima over the past 11 years and now a Director at RDU. However, an often-disappointing decision by our fellow aviators, we did sell our plane and bought a boat last year. Unfortunately, our little two-seater light sport could no longer fit the family and until we win the lotto, the Cessna 206 or Cirrus S22 are just dreams.