International Women in Engineering Day with Kelsey Tate

On June 23rd, 2014, the first ever International Women in Engineering Day was celebrated in the United Kingdom as a national campaign led by the Women in Engineering Society. 2 years later UNESCO globally adopted the campaign and it has grown to raise the profiles of women in engineering across the world.

We had the chance to talk to one of our very own up-and-coming engineers, Kelsey Tate. Kelsey is an Assistant Staff Project Manager in our Fort Myers, Florida office. While still fairly new to ECS, she has done exceptional work which has earned her recognition both from peers and clients alike. Kelsey gave us some great insight into what her experience as an engineer has been like so far!

What inspired you to pursue a career in engineering?

I originally got into the engineering field wanting to help people, as cliché as that sounds I wanted to study earthquakes, get my PhD in geophysics, move to India and learn how to better build infrastructure to withstand seismic activity. When I got my first internship in geotechnical engineering, I realized I could do that more locally. I fell in love with problem solving instead of problem preventing. In my opinion, a good engineer can problem prevent but a great engineer is one that can problem solve.

If you could go back and give your younger self advice, what would it be?

You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you can’t go around it, you have to go through it.

What is the coolest thing you’re working on right now?

Fort Myers is very much up and coming which is exciting for the engineering field in SW Florida. The coolest thing I am working on right now is the diversity of opportunities I could bring to the office with all this development. What brings me the most joy out of my career is doing a good job on my side of the operation and seeing the project continue with ECS. Everyday I get to watch a project from beginning to end.

What would you say to a female that may be looking to pursue a career in engineering?

There will be people who watch you succeed, help you succeed, and wish it was them succeeding. Don’t let the bystanders make you feel less for all your hard work. You are the only thing standing in your way. Females are underrepresented in this industry, so do not let that intimidate you, rather let that empower you. I would also tell them to call me, reach out, I have been in your shoes. Your success is all of our successes.

What motivates you to succeed professionally?

Nothing drives me more than working with a client and watching that relationship grow. The biggest compliment I can receive is reoccurring work from the same clients. I love being able to build that relationship with them. I have been told it doesn’t matter what you say it’s how you make people feel. I take that into every interaction I have.

How do you overcome professional challenges you may face?

Support. As much as I would love to say I do it all on my own, that would be naïve. Having a good support system and finding that system for yourself makes all the difference. A good culture means everything. I know I have other professionals all around me who will have my back when challenges arise. I have seen it, lived it, and appreciate it. Life isn’t meant to be gone through alone and professional challenges are no different. This is something I need to remind myself of every now and again.

What makes you unique?

Kelsey looked for some outside help with this question. “Kelsey is unique in many ways. First, she always sees the future in a positive sense. She takes a challenge with tenacious positivity and effort to own the outcome. She will win…it’s just a matter of time,” says David Bearce, PE, SI who is the Southwest Regional Manager of ECS Florida.

Professionally, what do you hope to achieve next?

I want the office to succeed both financially and culturally. The offices’ success is my success. Professionally I believe that means taking on any role necessary to see that happen. There is a lot of people I care about work who for ECS and the success of one is the success of all. There is something very satisfying in taking something from ground level to growth and success.

We also got to ask Kelsey a few questions about her life outside of work!

What are three personal experiences that only you have lived?

My favorite memory is doing a cross country trip in my 2012 Kia Soul with my dad to my junior year internship with Rio Tinto Borax Mine. We traveled from Bowling Green, VA to Boron, CA together and I don’t think I have ever had such a good time.

I’ve been skydiving twice. I am a huge adrenaline junkie always looking for the next thing to get that going.

I have summited a bunch of Fourteeners (mountains over 14,000 ft. in elevation) in Colorado, including the tallest mountain in Colorado! Pikes Peak, Mount Sherman, Mount Elbert (tallest), Mount Massive, Mount Princeton, Mount Oxford, La Plata, I did trail work on Mount Belford but never got to summit. Mount Sherman I summitted while leading a bunch of 8-year-olds and carrying half of their stuff so I feel like that one should count double! Some of them I also did as “bombers” which mean up and down in one day!

Who inspires you?

My dad is my biggest inspiration in everything I do. I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to be raised in such a strong and loving family, but even more lucky to have my dad beside me the whole way. No one pushes me harder or believes in me more than him. My dad knows me better than I know myself and what I am capable of. I am proud of the woman I have become today and that is all thanks to the love and support I have gotten from both my parents. Family comes first always. They have been there for the highs and lows, but my dad always reminds me of who I am and what it has taken to get here.

Kelsey is a great representation of the future of women in engineering not only at ECS but everywhere!