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Setting Her Sites

By Ruth Keyso, Director of Alumni Relations & Giving

If you find yourself in rural Hackberry, La., keep your eyes open for Meghan Pesch ’07. She’s the 27-year-old project engineer in a hard-hat, steel-toed boots, and fire-retardant clothing working on the construction site of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility.

Meghan has been with CB&I, an American engineering and construction behemoth, for five years. She started in a rotational training program, which exposed her to all sides of the business, from engineering and construction, to procurement and investor relations. She later took on a role as lead civil engineer at an ethylene facility in Houston before landing her current position as project engineer in Louisiana, helping to construct a facility to move natural gas through the Gulf of Mexico and the Panama Canal.

She describes her complex role simply: “I make sure that the project is moving forward and the engineering disciplines are aligned,” she explains.

A civil engineer by training, Meghan can pinpoint the moment in time when she chose this industry for her career. The year was 2003; the place was LFA.

“I had freshman physics with Mr. Dean. He was an aerospace engineer. The examples he gave in class, the things he did, had tangible application,” she explains. “This was my first introduction to engineering; he was the first engineer I’d ever run across.”

Inspired by the real-life application of the discipline, Meghan went on to earn her degree in civil engineering from Tufts University. When she graduated, she thought she’d work in design, perhaps constructing buildings or bridges. But the exposure she received at CB&I made her realize there’s a lot more to the industry than designing steel and concrete structures. There’s fieldwork that involves a multidisciplinary approach, something that appeals to her.

A typical day has Meghan up early and on site for a 6:30 a.m. safety meeting with engineers, construction management, and craft people—those who dig the dirt and pour the concrete—followed by hours of troubleshooting problems in the field. These might include misalignments between a pylon and a foundation; obstacles standing in the way of steel beams; or other issues that require conferencing with the home office in Baton Rouge. Solving problems keeps her occupied and intellectually challenged, she says.

“The problems are usually interdisciplinary; there might be 1,000 solutions, but what would be best from a scheduling, cost, and safety standpoint?” Meghan explains. “It’s not just a math problem anymore; you have to think strategically.”

Having a good attitude is also key to succeeding in her field, she says. Meghan has had to relocate as projects demand—West Virginia, England, Texas, Louisiana. While it can be challenging to adjust to a new locale, each place has prepped her with skills that will help in attaining her long-term goal of becoming a project manager.

Her advice for young people entering the workforce? Be open-minded.

“That’s something that LFA taught me,” she says. “Know that there will be steps [along the way] that are not exactly what you want to do. But it will help you in the long run. Keep things in perspective. Look at the big picture.”

Meghan Pesch graduated from LFA in 2007 and Tufts University in 2011 with a degree in civil engineering. She lives and works in Louisiana.

Posted by Ms. Grace Kim in Fall 2016 on Tuesday October, 11, 2016
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