Tell us about your journey into engineering:
My interest in engineering began when I was in middle school. My science teacher encouraged me to join MESA, an afterschool program dedicated to math, engineering and science for students in lower-income and disadvantaged population areas. At the time, engineering and other STEM careers were not discussed a lot within the minority communities. Through the afterschool program, I participated in many competitions, which took me to regionals and state. From then on, I pretty much knew I wanted to be a civil engineer.
I went to the University of California, Davis, where I majored in civil engineering. In 2008, while in my senior year of college, I discovered Balfour Beatty's internship program and have worked with the company ever since.
Over the last 11 years, I have had the opportunity to work on numerous different civils projects, ranging from large-scale water projects to joint ventures between our infrastructure and rail teams. Currently, I'm working on Balfour Beatty's most significant integrated U.S. Civils and Buildings project, the LAX Automated People Mover – an above-ground airport transport system at Los Angeles International Airport, connecting airport passengers to terminals.
The theme for this year’s campaign is ‘Engineering Heroes’. Tell us about yours:
I've cherished my time working with my past and current female colleagues; they are my heroes, whether project engineers, project managers or project sponsors. I genuinely believe that without their support and guidance, I wouldn't be the engineer that I am today. Each one of them has made a lasting impression that has shaped my experience and my career.
What does International Women in Engineering Day mean to you?
To me, it's about being a small part of the bigger picture and is a day to recognize women internationally in the field. Here, I'm just doing my job on this amazing project, but it's also great to know that women worldwide are building other notable projects. As women in the field, we can come together and have the same principles. It's sort of like a female camaraderie in which we are instant friends with each other and understand the same aspects of being in this group.
It excites me to see the representation and how it has changed over the years. At the LAX project, there are many women, almost a 50/50 representation of women to men. Prior to this, there would be plenty of projects that I might be the only female engineer on the project. It shows that we are visible, we are here as women and are working together to achieve and build things just as much as men, and we deserve to be recognized for that.
What can we do better as an industry to promote engineering as a career path to more women?
I believe it’s crucial to share engineering as a career as young as elementary school. I have two children, with the oldest being four, and I have already shared the idea of engineering as a career with them.
As women in the field, I think it's our job to inject ourselves into our communities and schools to share all the significant and impactful careers you can have as engineers with young girls. It’s essential that we share the fun projects they could be a part of and the can-do attitude that they need to succeed in this career.