Nancy Hayes
Nancy Hayes
Senior Project Manager, CSA Design Group
El Paso, TX
Office
(o) 1.915.877.4155

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  • Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have?

    I went to Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.  I have a BSE (Bachelor of Science in Engineering) Specializing in Environmental Engineering.  Mercer had a unique program where your degree was in general engineering and you specialized in a particular discipline.  This program allowed me to test the waters before I decided what type of engineer I want to be.  

  • What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work?

    One of the main aspects of my job is communication.  I have to communicate with the client and the County, City, Utilities, and even the community members.  As a civil engineer I get to design the project but it all comes back to communication.  I have to determine what the client wants and need and then figure out what is allowed and what the regulatory official is going to require.    If you do not communicate well the project will go nowhere fast.
    Other activities that I do are all the required calculations to prove the design is stable and meet all the required ordinances.   I also draft many of my design and prepare the submission package.  

     

  • What do you like best about being an engineer?

    I read on your website that one of the engineers likes the shocked look on people faces when she tells them she is an engineer.  I have to say it is entertaining when people ask what you do for a living and you say engineer and that split second when they try to figure out what to say and usually end up saying, “well you must be smart.”

    But the best part is not the shocked looks or the comments, its designing something new.  It is looking at the problem and being the one to solve the issue.  I love finding the solution and then seeing it come to life, to know that my idea will live on long after I have gone.

  • Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of?

    Early in my career I discovered I had an aptitude for stormwater.  Stormwater is one of the aspects most civil engineers do not like to deal with since it is more art than science.  Since I was one of the few engineers who like to design stormwater systems I was tasked with designing the systems for many different projects.  This allowed me to come up with new ways to deal with the stormwater.  Some of those ideas were later adopted by local counties and cities.  It is really cool to see your design become a detail other engineers will use.  I know as regulations change those design will become obsolete and removed but for now they are a part of the community.

  • What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career?

    One of the main challenge I faced as an engineer is learning to be myself.    When I graduated I try to be what I thought an engineer was, then I tried to be like everyone else (one of the guys).  I discovered that neither of those personalities were me.  Finally I accepted who I was and learned to dress and act professional as well as feminine.    One of the most powerful lessons I learned was accepting that I can be assertive and that I know what I am doing, and not letting others make me feel bad for not being meek or traditional.  

  • Please tell us a little about your family.

    I am a married mother of three beautiful and intelligent children (one boy and two girls).  My husband is in law enforcement and is really supportive of my career.  I always tell people when they ask about my husband is I had to find a strong man who was not intimidated by my job.

    My dad and brother are airline mechanics and my mother is a hairdresser.  I grew up in a traditional middle class family.  My father encouraged me to look beyond female careers and then complained that I was too outspoken.  But without his and my mother support I would have given up long ago.

  • What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals?

    I am in the middle of my career; actually I am closer to the end than the beginning so in 10 years I am hoping I am considering retirement.    But for the next year or two my goals are to get more involved with the community.  I have spent much of my career focused on getting my professional engineering license and then advancing to management.  Now that I am there and I have no desire to own my own firm I want to encourage others.  

    One of my favorite things to see is at my kids career day is a young kid who wants to be an engineer gets really excited because I am the first “real” engineer they have met.  

  • What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices?

    I moved around a lot growing up so when I was in 4th grade I could not do basic math.  I got real lucky and had a teacher name Mrs. Lee Musocco who saw potential in me.  She stayed after school to tutor me on her own time to catch me up with the rest of the students.  If it was not for her I do not know where or what I would be doing today. 

  • What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering?

    I would tell any young women going into engineering to learn how to be professional and to trust herself.  Also learn to listen to those who work for you and with you.  Some of my best designs come from listening to the suggestions from the drafters who work for me.  Finally there is a power and strength in being a woman, learn to embrace it.  You will see the world differently than the men and that is a good thing.  It will lead you to better and unique ideas that will change the world.

  • Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book.

    I horseback ride as well as take photos.  I also belly dance.  I realize that is not a hobby many would associate with an engineer but I spend all week with men so having a couple hours a week to just hang out with a group of women laughing and having fun is great.

  • Why did you choose engineering?

    In high school I actually wanted to design airplanes (it sounded cool).  My father told me that electrical engineering would allow me to do that.  After one semester of electrical engineering classes I changed my mind and switched to environmental engineering.   Once I graduated college I got a job (temporarily) as a civil engineer, 15 years later I am still working as a civil engineer.

    What I like about civil engineering is the longevity of my work.   Unless a building is a work of art it will be torn down.  Cars and plans will become obsolete.  But a road and the infrastructure that the world needs to live will last generations.  Even if you remove the road the scar remains.  Civil Engineering is the only field I know where you literally leave your mark on the world for generations. 

  • Describe what you do in your current work situation.

    I work for a smaller firm so that allows me the opportunity to do all aspects of the project. I write the proposal to get the project, design the project, coordinate all communications with the client and the regulating authority, and even clarify the plans for the project to the contractor for construction.

Biography
I am a licensed profession engineer in Texas, New Mexico, and Virginia. I have 15 years of experience in land development specializing in stormwater design. Working as a project manager, I am in charge of reviewing submittals, Request for Information (RFI), coordinating with reviewers and the client, and ensuring everything is submitted on time and within budget. I have also had the opportunity to work as a County Engineer for Fauquier County, Virginia reviewing drawings and being a part of the team that shaped the county’s storm water policy and procedures. This has given me the ability to see a project from the point of view of the client and the reviewing agencies. My experience has given me the opportunity to work in many different aspects of land development design. These include road design, site layout, parking layout, stormwater management, sanitary sewer & water layout, and landscaping. I also understand the problems and challenges in working in a field dominated by men. It has been fun learning that men communicate differently and how as a woman to be taken seriously as an engineer. In addition to being a civil engineer I am also a mother. Learning to balance being a parent and a professional engineer has been a challenge, but I love watching my kids discover engineering and growing up knowing their mom is an engineer. I am committed to help kids, especially young ladies, discover civil engineering. Anything is possible and only in civil engineering can you literally leave your mark on the world.
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Volunteer Opportunities
  • I am willing to be contacted by educators for possible speaking engagements in schools or in after school programs or summer camps.
  • I am willing to serve as a sponsor or coach for an engineering club or team.
  • I am willing to serve as science fair judge or other temporary volunteer at a local school.
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