Community Spotlight: AMC Engineers

February 5, 2014

I AM UAA
Community Spotlight: AMC Engineers
Seven of AMC Engineers’ 32 employees are UAA alumni or students

Thirty-three years ago, David Adams and Boyd Morgenthaler founded AMC Engineers and almost immediately started working on small projects for the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Front, Deborah Morales and Tyler Corey, and, back, Grant Birmingham, David Boggs and Christian Dougherty are UAA alumni working at AMC Engineers. Alumni Jacquelyn McGary and Mark Langberg and UAA student Brandon Grimshaw also work at the firm. Philip Hall / University of Alaska Anchorage

Front, Deborah Morales and Tyler Corey, and, back, Grant Birmingham, David Boggs and Christian Dougherty are UAA alumni working at AMC Engineers. Alumni Jacquelyn McGary and Mark Langberg and UAA student Brandon Grimshaw also work at the firm.
Philip Hall / University of Alaska Anchorage

With the support of a dedicated group of engineers, AMC grew into one of Alaska’s most prominent electrical and mechanical engineering consulting firms. It now employs 32 people. As the firm grew, UAA grew as well, because AMC took on progressively larger projects that punctuated the university with these beautiful, sophisticated and useful structures:

• UAA/APU Consortium Library: $44 million (total cost)
• Ecosystem/Biomedical Health Laboratory: $4.7 million
• UAA residence halls and dining facility: $27.9 million
• UAA Aviation Technology Center, at Merrill Field: $6 million
• UAA Health Sciences Building, $46.5 million
• Alaska Airlines Center (sports complex): $82 million
• UAA Engineering & Industry Building: $74 million

“Over the years, we’ve got a lot of support and business from the university,” said AMC Engineers President Pat Cusick, a UAA/UAF alumnus. “A lot of us went there and it is our local university. It’s our responsibility as members of the community to help support it. We also appreciate the strong support UAA has for the engineering profession. When UAA started its Bachelor of Science in Engineering program, we started seeing locally grown engineers start showing up here.”

Alaska engineers are valuable, Cusick said, because they are familiar with the state, comfortable here, not as likely as Outside hires to leave Alaska and take a firm’s substantial training investment with them.

AMC Engineers returns the favor, reaching out to boost students who want to get their engineering education at UAA.

Morganthaler, a mechanical engineer, helmed the firm until retiring two years ago, but tragedy ended the life of the firm’s co-founder.

David Adams, 52, an electrical engineer, died June 30, 2004, in a traffic accident that occurred while he was traveling with his son and the Alaska Shooting Stars youth shotgun team to Missouri to compete in an NRA sporting clays shooting competition. The night before, Adams had celebrated the grand opening of one of his many triumphant projects—the spacious new C Concourse at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

In his honor, AMC Engineers established the David D. Adams Memorial Engineering Scholarship, which awards $1,000 per academic year to assist students seeking bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering at UAA.

The firm also offers the AMC Engineers Scholarship, to assist mechanical engineering students who want to attend UAA.

Cusick has worked for the firm for more than 30 years, as has AMC’s chief financial officer, Sandy Houlihan. AMC’s vice presidents are Dave Shumway and Ken Ratcliffe, who have each worked for the company for more than 20 years.

AMC contributes to UAA in other ways.

The firm donated $5,000 to UAA’s engineering department to help fund design and building of a Baja buggy for UAA to enter in the Society of Automotive Engineers’ annual challenge.

And, AMC pledged $50,000 for the new UAA Engineering & Industry Building. “We were the first company to make a pledge for that,” Cusick said.

In addition to giving funds, AMC also moves UAA graduates (and students) into jobs at the firm. One employee, Brandon Grimshaw, currently attends UAA. Mark Langberg, a mechanical engineer at AMC, took arctic engineering courses at UAA in the 1980s. The following people all also attended UAA, currently work for AMC Engineers and share advice with people interested in studying engineering (and other fields) at UAA:

• Grant Birmingham earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering and is currently enrolled in UAA’s Master of Science in mechanical engineering program. “Engineering isn’t always finding one right answer. Sometimes there are multiple options that provide an effective solution.”

• Dave Boggs earned a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering from UAA. “Learn how to learn and enjoy the process; an engineering consultant is never bored or lacking new things to learn and apply.”

• Tyler Corey earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from UAA. “Get involved! Classroom performance is important, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle. UAA has many clubs, engineering and non-engineering related, that will help you apply the knowledge you’ve gained in the classroom and allow you to network with other students and professionals.”

• Christian Dougherty earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from UAA. “My education at UAA was able to prepare me for the problem-solving work that engineering is. It wasn’t about teaching me everything needed for a career in engineering but teaching me to be able to approach any problem and find a solution.”

• Jacquelyn McGary, the marketer for AMC, earned a UAA Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and public communications, with a specialty in telecommunications and film. “It helped me interview people, understand what’s important, what important information I need to convey.”

• Deborah Morales earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from UAA. “With so many courses required for the electrical engineering degree, my semesters were heavily loaded with up to 19 credits. I had to push myself to the limit every semester, both mentally and physically. UAA has prepared me in prioritizing, organizing and time managing, which are three main traits in being successful.”

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