As an expert in Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE), PROTEC17 member Kirstin Thornton spends her days streamlining processes that make everyone’s jobs at Pierce County easier. From transportation and roads to maintenance and sewers, she supports engineering projects that effect all areas of Pierce County.

Thornton started with the County in 2007 in the budget and financing office after graduating from St. Martin’s University with a degree in Mathematics. In her 12 years with Pierce County, she’s worked in construction inspection and design groups as an Engineering Technician before landing her current job as an Engineering Technician 3 in the Program Management group within the County Engineer’s office two years ago.

With her broad background in project management and expertise in AutoCAD – the computer program that engineers use to design systems and projects – Thornton’s days consist of providing CAD/CAE support to other Engineers and Engineering Techs.

One of her big projects has been to create a manual to standardize engineering processes and procedures throughout the County. This manual helps make workflows more efficient by creating templates, consistent symbols, and an enhanced file management system for engineering projects.

“It’s really rewarding to create processes and procedures that make everyone’s day-to-day job a little easier, and operations more efficient for Pierce County,” said Thornton.

In addition to the manual, Thornton conducts training and provides continual guidance to employees at Pierce County on best practices to ensure that everyone is on the same page with regard to using the new procedures. She also is managing the development of a corresponding webpage with the content of the manuals.
Thornton has her hands in many other projects as well, including using Auto-CAD for internal space-planning at Pierce County; the ongoing management of technology assets so that Engineers and Techs can efficiently run the software they need to do their jobs; and planning trainings to advance her team’s work goals.

Recently, Thornton decided to get more involved with PROTEC17. With contract negotiations coming up, she wanted to get the latest information first-hand. Plus, long-time member-leader Troy Lee has started to talk about retiring within the next few years. Thornton wanted to make sure that all of his institutional and union knowledge didn’t leave when he leaves, so she stepped up to participate on the Pierce County Chapter leadership team as a Regional Executive Committee (REC) delegate.

At the chapter meeting in May, the team discussed new events and activities to get people more involved during contract negotiations and beyond, including a potential summer social event.

“I have lots of ideas, and I’m excited to be a part of this team,” she said.

When she’s not working or doing union stuff, Thornton enjoys spending time with her family, including her six-year-old son, who loves the new PROTEC17 swag!