While the number of female role models in the architecture, engineering and construction is still less than ideal, Chix Dig It-Celebrating Women in Construction exists to empower women in all aspects of the industry. Last month’s Chix Dig It — Celebrating Women in Construction luncheon, which drew nearly 200 attendees from the AEC industry to The Renaissance Raleigh-North Hills Hotel, was themed “Hidden Figures: The Untold Story of Women in Engineering.”
The 2018 Chix Dig It luncheon featured a lively panel discussion with four Triangle-based female Registered Professional Engineers who are in various stages of their careers.
Through an interactive Q & A session, each member of the panel shared her own personal stories, giving the audience insight into what it’s like to be a leader in a traditionally male-dominated field. As panel moderator Matt Smith, Executive Director of the Wake Tech Foundation, introduced each panelist, he read a short bio with a personal touch. GroundBreak Carolinas is pleased to share his introductions with our readers.
Anna Lynch, P.E., CEO, Lynch Mykins Structural Engineers
Anna found her love for structural engineering in high school while building a bridge out of popsicle sticks for a project. Even though during her college years she often doubted herself, she began her career in 2003 as a structural engineer at what was then Stroud Pence. After 14 years of working her way up the ladder to Managing Director of the Raleigh office, Anna (along with partner Dave Mykins) made a bold move by trying to acquire the firm. Jump ahead a year and Stroud Pence, a company in business for 40 years has become Lynch Mykins Structural Engineers. Her success has been featured in the Triangle Business Journal, TBJ’s 2016 “40 under 40” Leadership Awards, and in the Virginia Construction Journal.
Although you might think Anna never takes her CEO hat off, you can find her speeding the streets of Raleigh in her Maserati, salsa dancing late into the night, or paddle boarding on the weekends. Did I mention she has an adorable “kitty model” named Clementine? So cute in fact, Clemi has her own Instagram following. You can follow her @ClementineTheCat2018
Priscilla Tyree Williams, P.E., City Construction Projects Administrator, City of Raleigh
Live or work in Raleigh? Like it when nice things get built? Well, you have Priscilla Tyree Williams to help out. She is one of three women on the CM team that oversee major projects that make our lives better. But if you are one of the contractors working for her – get ready, she is known to be a tenacious owner’s rep!
She is from the home of the Super Bowl winning Eagles and decided that she wanted to choose one of the coldest schools in America, Syracuse, to pursue her degree in Civil Engineering. That, in and of itself is pretty amazing, but what really gets me excited is that she was the FIRST African American woman to get this degree!
On the personal side, you can find her on fall weekends either arguing with her Steelers loving husband Melvin on Sunday afternoons or working with Girl Scout Troop 489. She also has a passion for the arts which allows her to go out often and devour her favorite food, hamburgers!
Lynette Royster, P.E., Senior PM, BREE & Associates
- Leaping over small puddles and contractors laying pipe.
- Doing inspections by day and after midnight with a miner’s flashlight.
- Evading mosquitoes, poison ivy and snakes. Outrunning sewer rats, WHATEVER IT TAKES.
- Going back to the office for a quick shower and clothing change for the next adventure of pre-proposal and client meetings.
Always having boots, safety vest and hard hat in hand, you never know what the day may bring… this job is truly versatile… Jill on the spot…always prepared. This sounds like a job any girl would dream of… especially a female engineer by the name of Lynette.
Hailing from the snow capital of the Triangle, Roxboro. Receiving her prized degree from the land of the wolves during the Valvano era. Spent 10 years traveling to every nook and cranny in the Carolinas as a Signal Opt Engineer with NCDOT. Jumped into private industry and never looked back. Has been with BREE & Associates, Inc. in the Bull City for the last 12 years.
Heather Denny, P.E., COO, Wells Global
Growing up, Heather diligently went to voice lessons every week on a path to be an elementary school music teacher or minister of music. In the 11th grade that path changed when taking a test on vectors. The math teacher said if you do well on this test you should be an engineer. Heather aced the test while others cried their way to gym class.
That put her at NC State for Civil Engineering-Construction Option. Looking back, maybe it was a sign when she loved projects such as building watersheds or bridges out of different materials to see which failed first.
Coming out of NC State, she went to work as an estimator with McDonald York Building Company. Over a 22-1/2-year career she worked to focus the company on client experience with a niche in corporate and life sciences. This focus took a $20 million a year company to $70 million with a diverse client base. After building the company and a solid executive team, Heather asked what’s next… and started a new career at Wells Global this summer.
Heather has an instinct to win and that can most definitely be seen when she is at an auction! When she sets her mind to winning an auction — she does! Fortunately, the winning feeds her desire to travel as she has “won” trips to Maui, a working ranch in Montana, and Turks and Caicos. Her auction addiction also supports her other interests in working to make our community a better place. She is currently the incoming chair of Triangle Family Services in addition to board participation in the Triangle Chapter of the American Red Cross and John Rex Endowment.
Results from 2018 Chix Dig It Luncheon
The proceeds from the 2018 Chix Dig it luncheon will provide educational assistance to young women who want to pursue a career in engineering. Chix Dig It host Patricia Lucas Smith is collaborating with the Society of Women Engineers (SEC) in the Triangle region to distribute this year’s scholarships. To date, Chix Dig It has been able to raise and distribute over $15,000 to institutions of higher learning in North Carolina.
To learn more about Chix Dig It, visit www.serving4success.org. For future sponsorship opportunities, or related information, please contact Patricia Lucas Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919.669.1208.