June 2022 Centennial Engineer of the Month

June 2022 Centennial Engineer of the Month – Brenda A. Villarreal, P.E.

Brenda Villarreal is a Project Manager at WSP – one of the world’s leading professional services firms. Brenda’s background is in structural engineering but her current work consists of organization transformation and disaster relief field operations—for disasters such as Hurricane Laura and Hurricane Maria. She graduated in 2016 with her B.S. in civil engineering from Virginia Tech. Brenda has a strong passion for learning and mentorship and has been very active as the ASCE VA Second VP since 2016. In her free time, she enjoys learning and teaching others about personal finance, propagating new plants, and traveling the world.

Centennial EOM Questionnaire

Question 1. What do you consider your major achievements in civil engineering in our Section area?

  • My major achievements as a civil engineer has got to be both projects below:
    • I designed prestressed concrete beams for 13 bridges for the I-285 & SR400 Reconstruction Design Build for GDOT
    • The design of the Stringfellow bridge in NoVA for the Transform I-66 P3 Design Build project

Question 2. Why did you decide on a career in civil engineering?

I decided on civil engineering because I wanted to serve my community at a large scale by providing resilient infrastructure

Question 3. Provide some career guidance for young civil engineers.

My biggest advice for young civil engineers is as follows: 

  • Start networking as soon as possible. Having a solid network opens many doors.
  • Get involved in various projects and duties early on in your career so you can discover what you like or don’t like. The earlier you figure that out, the better.
  • Take your PE early! The engineering content is fresh in your heads and most young engineers have less responsibility (work/personal) earlier in their career than 4-6 years down the line. Taking the exam early allows more time to study and prep for the PE.

Question 4. What do you consider the major challenge to a career in civil engineering?

It’s easy to get “pigeon-holed” in a certain job, but don’t lose sight of all the other opportunities out there in the civil engineering discipline. 

Question 5. Tell us about your volunteer activities. What is the motivating factor for volunteering? How has being a volunteer enriched your professional career?

My motivating factor for volunteering is the joy I get from self-less acts by helping others. Volunteering has also enriched my professional career by allowing me to meet like-minded individuals and growing my network. A few of my volunteer activities are listed below

  • 2nd Vice President for ASCE Virginia Section since 2016
  • Camp Counselor/Mentor for the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) Engineering & Construction Camps
  • Engineering & Construction Camps Committee Chair for Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) NoVA Post