Seven Tech Women Chosen for National Construction Leadership Seminar
A Michigan Tech education generates numerous opportunities to hone a student’s professional skills. Last fall, seven Michigan Tech students were invited to attend the Kiewit Women’s Construction Leadership Seminar, a competitive national workshop held at the company’s corporate headquarters in Omaha, Neb. Kiewit, a Fortune 500 construction company, selected 50 collegiate, female leaders to participate in a two-day event designed to challenge and develop their leadership skills.
Emily Blaney, Lauren Krueger, Natalie Parker, Autumn Storteboom and Rachelle Wiegand, all civil engineering undergraduates, and mechanical engineering undergraduates Erika Harris and Erin Richie were chosen based on demonstrated leadership skills, a drive for success and a passion for the construction and/or engineering professions.
“We are so proud of our students, especially with such a strong representation at this nationally recognized event,” said Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Tess Ahlborn. “As for the students, exposure to such a supportive environment of leadership at a corporate level can be a huge turning point for many young professionals in this stage of their career. These women are headed to very high places.”
“It was a wonderful learning experience that really fueled my love for civil engineering,” said Blaney. “I enjoyed the subject matter, the events that we took part in, and the opportunity to make connections with other women in my field. Their knowledge and drive was astounding. ”
Parker said, “One part of the trip that was especially motivating for me was the project management simulation program. We split into ten teams. Each team ran a construction company that was competing with all the other teams. It was awesome to just get right in with a team of women I had never met and run a construction company together.”
Krueger added, “The activity was incredibly realistic in that we assigned staff, bid jobs, hired and trained craft laborers, and kept backlogs. This seminar was the best leadership conference that I have ever been to. I was able to take so much from this event that will actually help me in my career.”
Richie said the best part of her experience was seeing women passionate about the construction industry. “The panel we interacted with ranged from recent grads to nearly thirty years of experience,” she said. I enjoyed being among other women with strong, independent personalities. Being at a school with a 3:1 male to female ratio, it was refreshing and encouraging to meet with a group of women who think like I do, and to know I'm not alone as a woman going into a predominantly male industry.”
The Michigan Tech women were excited and thrilled to be able get to know each other, as well. The group had an unexpected, extra chance to bond when their flight on the way back was canceled due to a fuel tank problem. Stuck in Omaha for an extra night, they went out to dinner and had an especially great time.
Kiewit covered transportation and lodging costs and provided each participant with a company hardhat. The opportunity gave them a whole new look at possibilities for their future. “If the way they treated all of us who attended the seminar is any clue as to how they treat their employees, I would say that working for Kiewit would leave you in good shape,” said Richie.
“I would definitely consider a career with Kiewit in my future,” added Parker. “The projects they are involved in building are spectacular. During this trip, we were able to meet numerous women who worked for Kiewit. All of them had been exposed to amazing opportunities and experiences.”
“Kiewit would be an interesting career choice,” said Blaney. “All of the women we heard from had career goals, and working at Kiewit helped them fine-tune and achieve their aspirations. It seems like a good company for growth as an engineer.”
Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.