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Amma Wakefield, B.Eng. '07

(Materials Engineering) | New Canadian Asphalt Advocate

Canadian roads have a new advocate, with McMaster grad Amma Wakefield named as the Asphalt Institute’s first full-time Canadian regional engineer.

The organization, which represents asphalt and cement producers across North America, is headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky, but maintains a team of regional engineers to focus on specific issues and concerns in various geographical areas.

The position is a perfect fit for Wakefield, who has concentrated her attention on asphalt since earning her B.Eng in Materials Engineering at McMaster in 2007.

Along with working in product development, testing and research positions with construction industry companies LaFarge, The Miller Group and Aecon, Wakefield completed a Master of Applied Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering and is currently working part-time on her PhD with a research focus on improving the durability of the roadway material.

Appointed to the newly-created position of Canadian regional engineer in January, she is also the first female regional engineer in the association’s nearly 100 year history.

Since her appointment, she has been travelling across the country to meet with asphalt and cement producers and government road departments to discuss the issues in different provinces.

“A big part of our duty is to work with government agencies to understand the technical challenges related to the performance of asphalt roads so that we can provide support, training or research to solve some of those issues,” she says.

Wakefield says the job is an ideal blend of academic and industry work, and also gives her the opportunity to help people understand “the why of what they are doing.”

“I’ve always felt that when someone connects to the why, there’s a different passion that they put into the work and the quality of the work changes.”