Meet our Portland Staff!

Aspect is not only launching a new Portland office, we're also welcoming new staff with expert knowledge of the region. Peter Stroud joins us as a Senior Associate Engineering Geologist with over 30 years of experience on engineering, engineering geologic, geotechnical, and environmental projects. Mark Swank joins us as a Senior Engineering Geologist with over 14 years of experience performing engineering and geologic analysis for schools, dams, and infrastructure projects in the greater Portland area. Here are five questions we asked to get to know them better. 

Pete Stroud

Pete Stroud

1.       Where are you from? If you’re not from the Pacific Northwest, what brought you here? I was born in a small town north of San Francisco and grew up in Sacramento. After going to college and working in northern California for several years, my wife and I took a 10-month trip to explore Alaska, Canada, and travel around the US. At the end of the trip, we thought we’d settle in the Pacific Northwest. We both had good college friends who lived in Portland. We stopped to visit and never left—we’ve lived here now for 29 years!

2.       What inspired you to pursue geology? What made you curious about it? From an early age, I enjoyed backpacking—particularly the above-timberline, glaciated, granitic Sierra Nevada mountains. I loved the out-of-doors and for college I applied to be a forestry major. It was so popular at my chosen college that there were no spots available! I took advantage that the college had openings for the “undeclared” major.  I took Intro to Geology my first term and really enjoyed it. The Department Chair encouraged me to declare being a geology major.  I never regretted the decision, and I realized it wasn’t the forest that turned me on, it was those rocky mountains!

3.       What do you like best about your area of expertise? What excites you and keeps you motivated? Geology has so many applications, and as a result I’ve been a geologist in so many types of projects: mineral exploration, watershed restoration, groundwater supply, fluvial geomorphology, landslide mapping and mitigation, geotechnical engineering, environmental assessments and cleanup, and dam removals. The variety of projects keeps work interesting and there’s always more to learn. Also in my personal time, it’s great to look around at the landscape, evaluate the geomorphology, and try to figure out what geologic processes shaped the land.

4.       What do you do like to do when you aren’t working? I enjoy photography, reading about the early exploration of America, sea kayaking, biking, backpacking, white water rafting, cooking, eating Cajun foods, watching Blazer games and college football, and sampling microbrews.

5.       Where in the world would you like to travel next? For the longest time I’ve wanted to go to Africa and finally did so this year. For the next foreign trip, I’d like to go to Costa Rica and /or Peru. 

Mark Swank

Mark Swank

1.       Where are you from? If you’re not from the Pacific Northwest, what brought you here? I was born and raised in the South Bay Area (San Francisco Bay Area), and my wife and I moved to Portland about 10 years ago. The housing market was a little crazy in Silicon Valley in 2006, and we were looking for a place to locate that was affordable and fit our lifestyle. My wife worked for Intel so we looked for locations where we could both transfer with our jobs, which narrowed the possibilities to Scottsdale, Folsom, and Hillsboro – Hillsboro being the easy choice.

2.       What inspired you to pursue engineering geology? What made you curious about it?After graduating with my bachelor’s degree in Soil Science/Env. Management in 1999, my first job was working on a NavyCLEAN project with IT in the Central Valley on the closed Crows Landing Naval Air Base as an environmental scientist. I worked a lot with the lead geologist and what he was doing seemed far more interesting than what I was doing. I had always intended to get a Master’s degree in something – just wasn’t 100 percent what at the time I graduated. After my first engineering geology class in my Master’s program, I knew landslides and faults were for me. California has lots of regulations when it comes to faults that require a CEG stamp and I worked for a guy during my graduate studies that specialized in fault and geohazard studies for residential properties. Moving to Oregon put an end to the fault investigations, but landslides and the Northwest go together quite well.

3.       What do you like best about your area of expertise? What excites you and keeps you motivated? What I like best is that my work is something new all the time and no project is the same. I’ve always had a hard time explaining to people what I do for a living because it is so many different things, and I like that. I’m motivated and excited to always be learning something new. I would have left this field a long time ago if I had to do the same thing every day.

4.       What do you like to do when you aren’t working? I like to hang out with my family and vacation in warm, preferably tropical locations. For hobbies, I swim regularly, ski in the winter, play in a couple of soccer leagues, and hike.

5.       What five people would be your dream dinner party guests? Albert Einstein, Jon Stewart, Hemingway, Picasso, and Maria Theresa.