The staff of Folsom Engineering, LLC includes (top, from left) Will Smith, Kristy Alinoski, Tim Eriksen, Rebecca Peterson, Jake Brominski and (not pictured) Ben Siegel. Above, Rebecca Peterson conducts infiltration testing.
March is Woman’s History Month, and one contractor in northeast Pennsylvania appears to be making history of her own.
“We’ve known and worked with Rebecca Peterson of Wyoming County for a number of years now. But, last year, our partnership with her ascended to a new level when she founded Folsom Engineering, LLC,” said Bill desRosiers, Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation’s external affairs manager. “To the best of our knowledge, she is the first female engineer in this part of the state to run her own company, and we are proud to have her in our corner.”
Peterson graduated from Tunkhannock Area High School in 1996 before going on to earn a degree in agricultural and biological engineering from Penn State and a masters in civil & environmental engineering from Lehigh University. “I was drawn to civil engineering because I wanted to be in a technical position that provided an opportunity to work outside,” Peterson said of her career choice.
She served as a manager in consulting engineering for other companies for 15 years, the last one based in State College. When they created a subsidiary for a branch in Tunkhannock, Peterson was tasked with opening and running the office. But there was a disconnect and lag time in getting things done on which she felt she could improve.
“I began Folsom to provide a local engineering firm that could provide stable services for my clients with personnel close to their operations and stable positions for local engineers, geologists, and scientists,” Peterson explained. Folsom Engineering got off the ground just as the coronavirus hit. The pandemic didn’t effect the company’s workload, but the situation hindered plans to establish a physical location. The company is currently run from Peterson’s family farmstead in Mehoopany Township.
Folsom provides design and permitting services for well pads, pipelines, waterlines, compressor stations, and water withdrawals. They also offer construction and post-construction inspection services; and environmental due diligence, environmental compliance and applications of Pennsylvania’s Land Recycling Program.
“Needless-to-say, these are all important to Cabot,” desRosiers remarked. “And Folsom has become one of our go-to third-party firms.”
“Cabot provides the stability that a new, local start-up company needs to succeed,” Peterson said of the partnership. “They make sure that invoices are paid promptly, and they support local businesses to ensure that they can be successful and provide long-term support for Cabot’s local operations.”
Peterson is modest about the historical aspect of her position but offered a summary of how female engineers fare among their male counterparts. The number of women in engineering is growing, she maintains, but not at the rate of other STEM professions.
“Women represent roughly 15 percent of the engineering workforce, but that is up from roughly five percent in the 1980s,” Peterson related. “So the number of women in management roles is likely lower than 15 percent because of the experience required for those roles.”
As Folsom strengthen its partnerships within the natural gas industry and beyond, the firm is poised for growth of its own. Peterson is considering sites for a permanent office, and she hopes to add another engineer and an environmental scientist to her staff of six within a month. The company also provides design and permitting services for residential, commercial, municipal, and industrial development, as well as stream stabilization, stream and wetland restoration services, groundwater investigations, and Phase 1 environmental assessments.
“One of the biggest qualities that we are looking for is that they understand customer service,” Peterson said of new hires. “We want them to be invested in the project and taking care of the clients and making sure that nothing goes wrong.”
Jake Brominski conducts a post construction site inspection.