STEPHANIE, FOREIGN SERVICE SPECIALIST,
CONSTRUCTION ENGINEER: I’m Stephanie, I’m a Foreign Service Specialist,
and I’m a Construction Engineer. I was born in Canada to American parents
so I have dual Canadian citizenship. I graduated from Texas A&M University
with a degree in civil engineering, and after that I worked in
the private sector for a while. I never-I won’t say I never
thought about the State Department. They came to Texas A&M
for a recruiting fair, but they seemed to only to be looking for
electrical engineers at the time. I happened to read about
the State Department again in a little blurb at the back of
my professional society magazine. There was a little ad that said,
Would you like to travel overseas, do you wanna support our
diplomatic missions abroad, contact us.” And so I did, and that was-that
brought me to the State Department 5 years ago as a Civil Servant. I was a Civil Engineer
for 3 years within our Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations,
and, after a year or so, I realized there actually was a
specialty of Construction Engineer. Our job overseas as a
Construction Engineer is to oversee and manage the
contractor who builds our embassies. We basically make sure that the
U.S. government gets what it pays for. We do in some parts
do inspections, but it’s mostly for a
quality assurance aspect. There is a fair amount of walking
around in the dirt and the mud, and around the concrete, but
a lot of it is-it’s a managerial job. You oversee a staff of site engineers,
who review shop drawings and submittals, and it definitely takes
the managerial side that you have to, as an
engineer, sort of think with the other side of your brain, and
get into the managerial aspects of it. You need to be able to work with
people from other cultures because, as a Construction Engineer overseas,
you’re going to be working with engineers from the local-
from the host country, and they know the
local host country requirements that you don’t know, and perhaps
the construction practices that the local workers will be using
that you’re not aware of. So, it helps to have an understanding
of a lot of-it helps to have an understanding of
how other people work, and how you can facilitate things
without getting too much into the weeds of the technical aspect because
that’s the contractor’s job, and that’s the designer of record’s job,
but you’re there to make sure that you interpret the contract requirements
for the contractor, and that you ensure that the project continues smoothly. With the earthquake in Haiti, the Embassy there was one of
the few buildings that was basically untouched. I understand the damage that
it received was only superficial. We still had electricity
with our generators, we still had clean water, we had
a structurally sound building, and that was a big success
because we had to-that was the prime example of why
the U.S. Embassy is there. They were there to help
the host country rebuild, and they’re still serving that function. I look forward to the chance
to represent the cultural ideals of the United States,
and to show women overseas that the United States
is a place that supports equality for women and that
women can be in fields like engineering and construction,
and that it’s important for women to be in the work force the same as men.