Each year DiscoverE dedicates an entire week to celebrate and spread awareness about engineering: how engineers make a difference around the world, increase the awareness of the need for engineers, and bringing engineering to life for kids, teachers, and parents. One day of Engineers Week each year is dedicated as Girl Day. This day focuses on inspiring future generation of girls to learn they have an important place in the engineering field!
Inspired by Girls Day, we’re highlighting the amazing team of women engineers at our firm. Even today, in 2019, only 13% of engineers are women. These hard working, intelligent, and creative women are on a mission to grow that number. We sat down with a few of the women engineers at ms to ask them questions about their industry, how they got to where they are today, and advice they have for the future generations of female engineers.
HOW WERE YOU FIRST INTRODUCED TO ENGINEERING?
“I was exploring what kind of career would be of interest to me and had read an article about the Suez Canal, the effect on the environment and how engineers were involved in the effort to control these environmental issues. I was really passionate about the environment and thought engineering would be a great career to effect change.” – Val Croasmun, PE, AICP
“My father is an electrical engineer and my grandfather was a civil engineer. As a kid, my five siblings and I would spend a lot of time in my dad’s shop helping wire electrical panels or build cost estimates for electrical components for his business. He gave us a lot of exposure to the problem solving and work ethic needed to be an engineer. Now, myself and two of my sisters are engineers.”- Emily Preston, PE
WHAT IS THE BEST PART ABOUT BEING AN ENGINEER?
“Each day brings new challenges and learning opportunities. I am able to constantly develop new skills which will be useful as my career matures. I enjoy being able to collaborate with a team each day and not knowing what the next day might bring, whether it be in the office or on a job site. No single day is the same, so it keeps me on my toes.” – Anna Belovic
“Helping the public by designing beautiful and safe projects that provide clean water, connect communities, and protect our environment.” – Monica Backs
“The best part of being an engineer is the empowerment I feel knowing that I can take on any unique project with problem solving and the right team members to make a difference in our community through transportation.” – Emily Preston, PE
WHAT IS A BEST “ENGINEERING MOMENT” YOU’VE HAD? AND/OR A FAVORITE PROJECT YOU HAVE BEEN A PART OF?
“Best moment may have been taking water samples from a boat on the Sandusky Bay on a nice, warm, August day. The best project I’ve worked on is helping implement master planning improvements for Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District. Great people and great projects that will enhance the camping and outdoor experience for thousands of people at multiple locations for years to come. Just having the opportunity to work outdoors, often in or near water, makes it seem a lot less like ‘work.’” – Kathy, McBride, PE, CCCA, LEED GA
“I am currently working on a three-mile widening project with the Pennsylvania Turnpike. I’ve had a hand in the drainage design, environmental permitting, right-of-way acquisitions, and other roadway features. It’s the biggest challenge of my career to-date.” – Patricia Wardy
“My favorite project I worked on was Ft. Duquesne Boulevard. One of my best moments was the ribbon cutting for this road as it was my first one. I still love walking down the sidewalk and telling my kids all about the project.” – Laura Lesher
“Since I am pretty new to engineering, I’ve had a lot of exciting firsts this year. I think successfully creating a HEC-RAS model mostly on my own was a big personal accomplishment. I also passed my fundamentals of engineering exam this year, which is a big step in pursuing my professional engineering license.” – Monica Backs
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR YOUNG GIRLS PURSING ENGINEERING?
“Be confident in your abilities, communicate directly, stop apologizing, advocate for yourself, ask to be involved in projects you are interested in, take initiative to improve the process, have a hard conversation when you need to, volunteer to do things above and beyond your project work, set and maintain professional boundaries, learn the business, network, and most importantly, be yourself.” – Stephanie Johnson, PE, ENV SP
“Never stop learning!” – Candance Krnich
“It’s cool to be studious, smart, and ambitious. Believe in yourself and don’t be afraid to ask question and be curious. Just because this is a male-dominated field doesn’t mean girls can’t be included, successful, and satisfied. It’s very rewarding to make a contribution to a successful project. There are so many opportunities for women in engineering and lots of ambitious women to look up to… men too!” – Kathy McBride, PE, CCCA, LEED GA
“Believe in your ability! Sometimes it is hard to remain confident in a profession that is still primarily pursued by men, but you have a lot to offer, including but not limed to, creativity, intelligence, and problem-solving. You can do anything the guys can do!” – Monica Backs
“Stick with it and believe in yourself. There are so many different engineering degrees you can pursue, so make sure you are aware of as many as you can be, and choose the one that sparks the most interest to you. No matter what, when you obtain an engineering degree, you are capable of anything.” – Anna Belovic
“Define your own success and set your own standards.” – Patricia Wardy
“Don’t let the math scare you off. Engineering is a great career and never boring.” – Val Croasmun, PE, AICP
”Being a female who is interested in engineering is an asset, not a hindrance. Take advantage of any opportunities for scholarships, networking, and mentoring.” – Laura Lesher
“Don’t be discouraged from engineering because you don’t think you’re smart enough. Engineering is like sports or anything that takes consistency over time to develop your skills. You need to keep showing up.” – Emily Preston, PE
WHAT IS A BENEFICIAL ASPECT OF WORKING IN THIS INDUSTRY?
“After working as an engineer for five years, I decided to take time off to have and raise my children. After 13 years at home as a full time mother of 4, I was able to go back to engineering part time. I am grateful to have a career that has allowed me to do this.” – Laura Lesher