2023 40 Under 40: Jennifer E. C. Judge, P.E.

Aug. 22, 2023
Jennifer E. C. Judge, P.E., Track Section Manager and Project Manager, HNTB

One word to describe yourself: Driven

Alma Mater: Northeastern University

Fast fact about yourself: I’ve traveled to 35 countries. When in a foreign city, I like to use their transit and collect a transit card, my most recently being the Budapest Metro.

What’s your best experience on transit and what made it memorable?: The Hakone-Tozan Railway in Japan. Located on Mt. Hakone, this mountain railways primary line includes several switchbacks in order to climb the mountain, with its final line a funicular segment to bring you from Gora to Sounzan for spectacular views of Mt. Fuji on the Gondola.

Jennifer E. C. Judge, P.E., is the track section manager at HNTB. She initially started her career in 2013 at HNTB as an intern at the Chelmsford, Mass., location, possessing a strong desire to learn and grow as a rail track design engineer. Rising through the ranks over the past decade, she has developed highly advanced track design skills utilizing the latest computer-aided design (CAD) technologies on a range of rail projects for agencies across the New York Metro area. She has taken on lead roles on numerous large projects—such as the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s (CTDOT) Metro-North Railroad Walk Bridge, Amtrak’s Susquehanna River Rail Bridge Reconstruction and Expansion and Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) Hudson Line to Penn Station New York Planning Study. Judge has developed a wide range of capabilities within the track discipline, including complex alignment design, trackwork design, dapping plans, detailed construction phasing, conceptual design/alternatives analysis and detailed corridor modeling.

Judge has shown outstanding initiative and commitment to planning and completing tasks and demonstrates a high level of personal accountability. She effectively communicates with her team, as well as clients and stakeholders. Judge shines as a results-oriented project manager, driving measurable success for Metro-North Railroad (MNR) on its On-Call Services Track Engineering and Design project and Hudson Line Study while always delivering quality work on time, on budget and to the client’s satisfaction.

Judge’s hard work and commitment to the industry was recognized by Railway Age in their “Top 20 Under 40” list in 2021 for her breadth of knowledge, experience and achievement in the railroad industry. At HNTB, she has served on the steering committee that developed the Diversity and Inclusion Group in the New York Office. The group launched in August 2020 to promote and advocate for inclusion and diversity both in and out of the office. HNTB’s corporate office utilized her as a resource to develop similar programs in other offices across the country. She also serves on the membership committee of Women’s Transit Summit (WTS) International – Greater New York Chapter, an organization dedicated to building the future of transportation through the global advancement of women.

Judge is also actively involved in the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association (AREMA), serving on Committee 11 – Commuter and Intercity Rail Systems. She also recently participated in The Eno Center for Transportation – Mid-Manager Program.

In her current position as the track section manager and a project manager in the New York Rail Department at HNTB, she has grown her roles to include being the deputy department manager, assisting the rail department manager in operations, delivery and sales. Judge has also assumed responsibility as a client service leader of MTA, where she leads a team focused on the MNR Business Unit in developing new relationships with the client and positioning the firm for future work. Jenn has taken on major roles in delivering on some of the office’s biggest projects, including track lead on the MTA Penn Station Access, Amtrak Susquehanna River Bridge and CTDOT Walk Bridge projects. She recently served for two years as the office onboarding manager responsible for overseeing a team of ambassadors with whom she works to provide a smooth assimilation into HNTB for new hires and transfers.

Judge stepped up to lead the networking/social subcommittee when HNTB’s New York Office established its young professionals group, HYPE (HNTB Young Professional Experience), in 2015. Judge led HYPE from 2016 to 2019, when the program expanded to encompass professionals of all ages, adding subcommittees that focused on community service, sports and employee recognition, among others. Judge served on the steering committee that created the successor of HYPE, called SPAN (Sparking People, Activities and Networking), and led its rollout. Both HYPE and SPAN were the first programs of their kind at HNTB. Numerous other HNTB offices have contacted Judge directly about how to start such groups in their own locations.

“I have known Jennifer throughout her nine-year career at HNTB. As a former transit/rail department manager and former New York Office delivery manager at HNTB, I have had the opportunity to observe Jennifer take on many leadership roles, including leading diverse teams in proposing, winning and delivering complex rail projects. She approaches her work with a strong vision and has an excellent ability to work collaboratively with an experienced group of people. She is trusted by her colleagues and clients to deliver,” said Amtrak AVP Major Programs, Tunnels & Systems Derick Hallahan, PE.

Is there a specific experience that led you to where you are today?

Growing up in New York City, I always had an innate interest in and appreciation for public transportation. Upon starting college in engineering, I was quickly drawn to the transportation engineering classes, especially one I was able to take that took place abroad for two months in The Netherlands studying its transportation systems, including highway, railway and lots of bikeways. What sealed the deal for me in rail was my first co-op working in track design. I absolutely loved the work and never looked back, going on to do my next co-op at HNTB in track designand then starting with them full time after graduation.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

What I enjoy most about my job is tackling challenges and problem solving on my projects. Working primarily on projects in the northeast, right-of-way space is often limited and constraints abound. Workshopping solutions for the alignment, using different structure types or coming up with other options to solve the current challenge is something I truly enjoy and one of many reasons I was made for engineering.

Accomplishment you’re most proud of and why?

An accomplishment I’m most proud of is my work on the Walk Bridge Program for CTDOT and Metro-North Railroad. I started on this project fresh out of college as a junior engineer supporting the development of the 30 percent track design alternatives. Over the course of my career and the project, the track design for Walk Bridge truly became my own and I moved up to become the lead track engineer, eventually getting to Sign & Seal the Final Track Design myself. This project went into construction earlier this year and I’m looking forward to seeing it complete. 

About the Author

Eman Abu-Khaled | Associate Editor

Eman Abu-Khaled is a recent graduate of Kent State University with a bachelors in journalism. She works through Endeavor Business Media with Mass Transit as an associate editor. Abu-Khaled brings a fresh perspective to the visual side of journalism with an interest in video and photography work.