Solving building challenges and making a positive impact in the world: Meet Tori Roberts, AE Works’ newest Penn State AE Alum!

September 18th, 2019

A 2019 graduate of the Penn State AE Program, Electrical / Lighting Option, Tori Roberts has always been interested in buildings.  That interest was sparked by unwavering curiosity, a love of solving complex challenges and a desire to make a positive impact in the world.

“The balance between power and lighting intrigues me. There’s such a pivotal interplay between the electrical infrastructure of a building and the lighting design that brings each space of the building to life.  Lighting is such an important part of that human experience from many aspects – health and wellness, being able to focus at work, or social enjoyments,” Tori shares.

Creating environments where people not only feel comfortable, but also can thrive gets Tori excited to dive into projects at AE Works.   Starting her tenure at AE Works as an intern in the firm’s State College office long before her final thesis paper was submitted, Tori is now a full-time staff member at AE Works in the company’s Pittsburgh headquarters.

In addition to applying her knowledge learned from the AE program, Tori feels the Penn State spirit going strong at AE Works. And that is because the firm has 10+ Penn State AE alumni, including several graduates from the Mechanical, Construction Management and Electrical / Lighting options.  AE Works President and CEO Michael Cherock, PE is also a graduate of the AE Program, Electrical / Lighting option.

For Tori, that Penn State connection created a seamless transition from college to career. “It’s great to have leadership at AE Works who know what classes I’ve taken and the fundamentals of the AE program.  Those perspectives support a recent graduate from Penn State, making the transition much more natural,” she reflects.

Seeing Penn State shirts around the office is great, but to Tori, everyday she gets to apply the knowledge she gained while in the AE program at AE Works is a successful one.  Team collaboration, design and BIM technology being key skills that she is applying daily as she works on projects ranging from work for the country’s premier biomedical research institute, National Institutes of Health (NIH) and a public safety department to patient-focused healthcare spaces.

“Collaboration is baked into the AE Works culture. Ideas trump titles isn’t just a saying.  As a recent grad, I feel I have an equal voice and an equal opportunity to contribute.  People are always ready to listen and welcome new ideas.  I am a part of the team decision-making process on projects – and that is beyond a unique experience for my career,“ Tori describes.

Teamwork at AE Works goes beyond brainstorming and reviewing drawings. The firm has in-house architecture, interior design, security, planning and construction management professionals.

This diversity is top of mind for Tori and important to her continued education.  She shares, “working at AE Works allows an engineering designer to work alongside not only other engineers in a range of disciplines, but also architects, interior designers and security professionals. It’s such a great opportunity to sit alongside those specialists.  Together we can problem solve more efficiently upfront and that gives the client a better experience.”

As a result of AE Works’ range of services, Tori has learned security impacts related to building design, the importance of lighting and interiors integration, the need for power coordination among various disciplines from a healthcare perspective and a lot more.

Learning, collaboration and delivering a great client experience aren’t just reserved for projects.  At AE Works, those are fundamental to the firm’s culture and core values of leadership, integrity and craftsmanship.

“Everyone at AE Works takes the core values seriously and puts them into action. It’s a big reason why I decided to join the AE Works team full time,“ Tori states.

AE Works’ values of leadership, craftsmanship and integrity have been a part of the firm’s foundation since Day 1, now nearly thirteen years ago.  Today, the firm puts those values into action as a certified B Corporation, meeting rigorous standards of social and environmental performance like other innovative firms such as Warby Parker, Ben & Jerry’s and Patagonia.

“The B Corp certification, our work on projects, and the awesome people – these aspects are all difference makers at AE Works and an opportunity to create a world where everyone is relevant.  I have the opportunity to make a positive impact everyday – and I get to use my passion for engineering to make that happen. That is simply awesome,” Tori remarks.