Linda D. Phillips, PE, PMP
- MS Civil Engineering 1984
- BS Civil Engineering 1977
Linda Phillips turned a 20-year career in industry and second career in teaching into a long history (over 27 years) of leading humanitarian endeavors in Dominica, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, and Chile.
Following the advice of her father, Phillips earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Michigan Tech in 1977 and an MS in Civil Engineering from Tech in 1984.
Upon earning her MSCE in construction management she accepted a position with Planmark Architecture and Engineering, a division of SuperValu, Inc. She was appointed vice president in 1991 and director of project management in 1995.
In 1997, she took a leave of absence from Planmark to be a visiting assistant professor in the Building Construction Department, College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech. She also served on the University of Minnesota Construction Management advisory board to develop the new CM degree and also taught in the program.
Phillips went on to teach at Michigan Tech in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department from 1998–2008, instructing classes in project management, professional practice, project scheduling, and senior design.
“Both my parents taught,” she said. “I grew up wanting to teach, but chose civil engineering and project management as my dad felt there would be more opportunities for me in engineering. However, throughout my years as a project manager, I sought every opportunity to teach and train or be trained as an instructor. After 20 years, I traded a successful career for my childhood dream, and I have not looked back.”
In 2000, at the request of her students and before national Engineers Without Borders began, Linda created the Michigan Tech International Senior Design (ISD) program. She mentored more than 160 Michigan Tech students from various disciplines with 15 offerings of the ISD from 2000-2008. Her international initiatives laid the groundwork for other outreach programs including the Michigan Tech Chapter of Engineers Without Borders.
The capstone international senior design program that she started continues to be offered annually at Michigan Tech. The senior design course provided a unique way to merge service learning, international experience with civil engineering design.
“I believe in opening students’ minds, hearts, and their engineering ‘tunnel vision’ through active learning and hands-on activities whether in the classroom or situated in the developing world. I believe replicating industry activities or removing students from their typical U.S. comforts captures students’ attention. They are able to think outside the box while learning that civil and environmental engineering is really about helping people.”
Phillips went on to offer a similar senior capstone course at the University of South Florida (USF) in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in 2008 until she retired in 2011.
In 2010, she received a national award from the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE), the International Division’s Global Engineering and Engineering Technology Educator Award. In 2011, Phillips received national recognition from the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP) with the Wiley / AEESP Award for Outstanding Contribution to Environmental Engineering & Science Education.
Phillips is a key author and illustrator for the book, Field Guide in Environmental Engineering for Development Workers: Water, Sanitation, Indoor Air.
Phillips is a charter member of the Michigan Tech President’s Council of Alumnae, established in 1996. She was inducted into the Civil and Environmental Engineering Academy in 1997. She has been a mentor and speaker for Women in Engineering at Michigan Tech.
“Through my teaching and experiences, I have grown to see the world differently and my teaching has evolved,” Phillips said. “My teaching philosophy is this: give and receive knowledge to help the people of the world improve their lives.”
Phillips is also happy to say, Michael Paddock, one of the 2020 Humanitarian Award recipients, began his service engineering work through her 2003 and 2004 international classes. She will be thrilled when former students are nominated for the award because they experienced life challenges and learned life-changing lessons in an engineering design class.
In recognition of her humanitarian efforts, Phillips will receive the Michigan Tech Alumni Humanitarian Award in 2023.