Interview with Valerie Merida, PE of GeoStructures
In honor of Women in Construction week, we interviewed GeoStructures’ Preconstruction Design Director, Valerie Merida, PE. Valerie joined GeoStructures in 2004 and oversees a team of design engineers that continue to successfully support customers by preparing engineering designs for the construction of ground improvement technology.
When did you realize you wanted to be in the A/E/C industry?
I first became interested in engineering in high school, but it was not until my first internship that I knew I wanted to be a civil engineer.
Is there someone in your life that led you to this career?
My dad was probably the one who led me toward this career. He is not an engineer, but he was a councilman in the small town where I grew up. He was always focused on fixing and updating the town infrastructure and was always excited about new roads and sewers.
What was your first job in the industry?
I was a summer engineering intern for PennDOT after my freshman year in college. It was a highway interchange reconstruction project. It was my first experience with construction and I loved it.
What has been the most surprising part of being a woman working in construction?
I am surprised that more women do not want to work in construction. It is fun seeing something you have designed being built.
What is your favorite part of your career?
The favorite part of my career is that every day is different. Each day brings a new challenge and problem to be solved. I am fortunate to be able to work on interesting projects surrounded by great people.
Who inspires you?
I have had so many great women in my life that have inspired me. My mother, grandmothers, and aunts have all been great examples of hard work, honesty, and dedication to their family. They inspire me to set the same example for my daughters.
What is the biggest challenge of being a woman working in construction?
For women in construction, I think the beginning of your career is the most difficult. Being the only woman on a construction site in addition to being inexperienced can make it difficult to command respect.
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Find a place to work where you enjoy not just your job, but the people you work with. Having a strong team around you makes the good days better and the hard days easier.
What would surprise us about you?
I have played golf at St. Andrews in Scotland. It is an amazing place if you love golf.
If you are interested in having Valerie and her team provide a project assessment for your project visit: http://www.geostructures.com/project-assessment