Meet Alexander Crownover, a Mechanical Design Engineer at Professional Engineering Consultants in Wichita, Kansas. His down-to-earth approach to upping his engineering game is creating a strong workplace community.
Set up for success
Alexander was born in Topeka, Kansas, but spent his formative years in Wichita, two hours south. The son of a law enforcement officer and educator, Alexander and his two younger sisters were given “everything we needed to succeed.”
Alexander discovered he had a knack for soccer. His parents made sure he had as many opportunities as possible to play. From traveling leagues and indoor tournaments to his middle and high school teams, Alexander clocked hundreds of hours on the field.
When he wasn’t playing soccer or attending school, his family was very active in 4-H and their local Catholic church community. Alexander’s faith is still important to him. “It’s always been a big part of my life,” he explained. “And the Wichita Diocese’s tithing stewardship program is one of the main reasons that I was able to attend a really great private high school.”
Always competitive and high-achieving, Alexander humbly explained that he “was never the smartest kid in the class, but I worked hard and was always learning from the people who were better than me.” This ability to focus, work hard, and connect with others set the stage for later success.
An early interest in design
Alexander can’t point to the exact moment that he started to consider a career in construction, but he has vivid memories from childhood with a K’Nex set. K’Nex sets (similar to Legos) challenge kids to design and build everything from model cars and bridges to cranes and Ferris wheels.
“I was construction-minded even as a kid,” Alexander explained. “I’d spend hours building those elaborate sets and work through the entire instruction booklet. Every holiday, I’d look forward to another/new set.”
Alexander’s aunt, who works as an aeronautical engineer, was the first to encourage him to consider engineering. Then a 4-H event on Kansas State University’s campus included a tour of the architectural department and illuminated his path forward. “I loved it. I was amazed. And I thought so clearly, ‘This—architecture—is what I want to do.’”
Forging a path in architectural engineering
One of Alexander’s best friends, who was a grade ahead, was also an aspiring architect. After his friend’s first year at Kansas State, he reported back to Alexander: “Architecture is great! You barely have to take any math!”
“At that point, I was in calculus II,”Alexander recalled. “And I was good at it. I liked math. I didn’t want to be done with it forever.” His love of math informed his educational journey going forward. As he sought a course of study that could satisfy his love of design without sacrificing his love of math and science, he discovered architectural engineering.
“It’s like you take all the artsy stuff out of architecture,” Alexander explained, “and you put in all the math-y stuff—that’s architectural engineering. I knew it was for me.” Incidentally, Kansas State, just two hours north of Wichita, has one of the best undergraduate architectural engineering programs in the country. For Alexander, it was a no-brainer.
He declared his major his freshman year, and after exploring concentrations in structural and electrical, Alexander landed on mechanical. “It just made the most sense to me,” he said. He earned his bachelor of science degree in architectural engineering.
Gaining experience and putting down roots
During college, Alexander completed an internship in Houston, Texas, and spent a summer as a full-time 4-H camp staff member in Junction City, Kansas, facilitating low ropes obstacle courses. After opportunities to travel and gain diverse experience, Alexander knew he wanted to return home to Wichita.
“I always envisioned myself coming back here,” he said. “It’s always been home—it’s where my family is, where my wife’s family is, and it’s a great place to raise a family of our own. I knew this was where I was headed long term.”
He wasn’t very familiar with Professional Engineering Consultants (PEC) before he saw their presentation at K-State. After interviewing he did a company visit to their headquarters in Wichita. “I crossed my fingers, because I knew I wanted to work here.”
What most impressed Alexander about PEC was its culture. When he toured the offices, he met people who started their careers with the company and were on track to retire from it, too. Many employees were supporting large families and said they felt stable in their positions but also challenged to grow. For Alexander, it was a perfect fit.
Contributing to the PEC community
“More than climbing any ladder, I’m interested in being the best engineer I can be and shaping the culture here at PEC,” Alexander said. In his eight years at the company, he has organized lunch-hour tabletop gaming sessions and a reading club, where team members read short stories that they discuss over a meal.
During his time at PEC, Alexander also started a family with his wife, Sarah. Their two young sons inspire Alexander to keep growing in his profession and build a happy, thriving work culture.
“I love being in this role, and I love being at PEC,” Alexander said.
Launching OpenSpace at PEC
In addition to creating opportunities for social connections at the company, Alexander’s efforts have included taking ownership of new technologies such as OpenSpace.
Alexander first learned of new documentation solutions through friends in the construction field who had already launched platforms in their jobs. “I like to stay up to date on tech stuff,” Alexander explained. “So, I was excited to hear about this, and I knew 360° cameras and new software could be really cool in an engineering capacity.”
He dove straight into research.
In the spring of 2022, Alexander discovered OpenSpace. Attracted to OpenSpace’s speed of site capture, ease of use, and programmatic flexibility, he began the process of pitching a trial to PEC leaders. Every new tech integration at PEC requires a “champion” to oversee its implementation. Alexander eagerly stepped into that role.
In June of 2022, PEC launched OpenSpace to capture existing site conditions on projects ranging from healthcare infrastructure to sports stadiums and schools. PEC has since rolled out OpenSpace to its Wichita office and other Midwest locations.
“I’ve got three or four cameras here in my office,” Alexander said. “One in the Fort Collins office, one in Lawrence, Kansas, one in our civil engineering department, and I’m trying to get one to the Kansas City office and Oklahoma offices, too.”
Alexander’s purview now includes training new users on OpenSpace, troubleshooting issues, and expanding use of the platform throughout PEC’s nine offices. “It saves so much time,” he said. “Everything is documented, and we have access to all of it in our offices. I can share it with everyone offsite, and I can even pull it up in a meeting with the architect. It’s incredible.”
What does being a Pathfinder mean to you?
“To me, being a pathfinder is a lot of what it sounds like,” Alexander said. “It’s about finding a path from point A to point B. But here’s the thing—you can’t be a pathfinder until you’ve been a path follower. You have to learn the ropes, and at some point you will become competent and confident enough to start searching for new routes.”
Throughout Alexander’s career, he has exemplified this trajectory, learning the fine points of his role at PEC and investing the time and effort to learn from others to become the best engineer possible. With greater confidence, he embraced innovation by introducing new technology that is transforming how PEC works.
“The last step here—the finality of all this—is that once you have found this path, you have to make sure that others can follow the route behind you,” Alexander said. “You have to make that path easier for the next person.”
Pathfinders are power users like Alexander who excel at using OpenSpace. You can check out all of our published Pathfinder Spotlights in the OpenSpace Community gallery. If you’d like to be a Pathfinder, submit your Pathfinder application today.