Elsie Eaves Trailblazer

Portrait of Elsie Eaves

Born: May 5, 1898

Died: March 27, 1983

Education: University of Colorado

Known for: Pioneer in civil engineering

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Civil Engineering Pioneer

Elsie Eaves was  the first woman to be a full member of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Elsie Eaves was born in Idaho Springs, Colorado in 1898. In 1920, at the age of 22, she graduated from the University of Colorado with a civil engineering degree. After graduating from college, she worked for the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads, the Colorado State Highway Department, and the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad.

In 1927, Elsie became the first woman to be a full member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Around this time, Elsie began making the most of her engineering education. She decided to make a career change and joined the Engineering and News-Record (ENR) as an assistant manager for market surveys.

She eventually became the manager of the Construction Economics department at ENR. While in this position, she directed ENR’s measurement of "Post War Planning" in the construction industry. This data was used by ASCE and the Committee of Economic Development to decide and estimate what work could go forward promptly when World War II ended. She then converted the data into the first continuous database of construction in the planning stages.

In 1945, she became the manager of Business News and continued there until she retired in 1963. After retiring, she was and advisor to the National Commission on Urban Affairs on the subject of housing costs. She also advised the International Executive Service Corps about construction costs in Iran.

In 1957, she was the first woman to join the American Association of Cost Engineers, where she eventually became the first woman to be awarded an Honorary Life Membership. In 1979, ASCE awarded her and honorary membership in recognition of her achievements.

Elsie Eaves died on March 27, 1983 in Roslyn, New York.

Photo credits:
Photo from the Walter P Reuther Library at Wayne State University (PhotoID: 1946).