News Stories

National Engineers Week 2016:

Published March 15, 2016

Throughout Engineers Week we asked Wilmington District engineers who started out their careers as pupils to help explain what motivated them to pursue a career in engineering. Civil engineer Leslie Bowles-Early explains her motivations to join the profession. 

Why did you become an engineer?
Bowles-Early: Growing up, my family and I would visit New York City often and I was always fascinated with the infrastructure it offered. I especially enjoyed driving across the George Washington Bridge into the Henry Hudson Parkway and seeing the grand structure of the High Bridge and the “street steps” along the way, next to a busy river. Those structures always captivated me – and still do, to this very day!
Math was always my favorite subject growing up and I knew from an early age that I wanted to do something in that capacity. I was happy to learn that the engineering field would allow me to combine my fascination with structures and love of math in one discipline.

At what age did you know that you were good at math and science, and did you pursue higher levels of math and science through high school?
Bowles-Early: When I was in eighth grade, I began to truly enjoy and appreciate math and science and wanted to learn more. I sought out higher levels of both subjects academically and would pursue activities that encouraged them.

What do engineers do for society?
Bowles-Early: I believe that engineers "keep everything going" – from the roads we drive on, the bridges we cross, to the plumbing in our homes, and the cell phones we communicate with. These great inventions are all possible because of, and stem from, engineering. We provide the foundation of the day-to-day technology and infrastructure we now take for granted -- yet can't live without! I am really proud to work in a field that positively and regularly contributes to society in an on-going basis.

Did your family help motivate you to become and engineer? Do you advise parents of children with aptitudes for upper level math and science to pursue a potential degree in engineering?

Bowles-Early: Absolutely and unequivocally! My family was very supportive in my pursuit of engineering at an early age. My father, in particular, motivated me and gave me the drive to further explore and excel in mathematics and science. He worked as a scientist when I was very young and I would say that this influence, and his passion for chemistry in particular, rubbed off on me. I hope to encourage and influence my young daughters with my passion for engineering. I believe we, as parents, owe it to our children, and today's youth, to introduce them to (and get them excited about) the multi-faceted, influential, and earth-friendly field known as engineering.