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Society of Women Engineers

Celebrating Black History Month: Alishia Ballard

Alishia Ballard’s engineering journey has been one of the most laborious, yet completely fulfilling endeavors she has ever done in her life.

Published On: February 2016

My engineering journey has been one of the most laborious, yet completely fulfilling endeavors I have ever done in my life.

Alishia Ballard

Alishia Ballard

One thing you will recognize about a woman in engineering is definitely you are rare. Another thing that I recognized is being a black woman in engineering, you are almost non-existent. With those two physical characteristics came an unwavering desire to move forward with my education and career goals of being an engineer because the adversity associated with my goals made the end product that much sweeter.

I chose to pursue my degree in Civil engineering, and I had professors that voiced issue with women being out in the field, even going as far to say women should not be doing such a “dirty” job. That type of bigotry really motivated me to push harder. This “dirty job” has taken me to sites I dreamed about as a girl. I was inspecting on top of the Third Street Drawbridge built by the Strauss Company, (same builders of the Golden Gate Bridge), just this past winter in San Francisco, CA. How many people can say they have been on top of that iconic bridge?

Engineering has taken my life to a place that is tough to reach for minority women. At my graduation from San Diego State University, I saw one other black woman such as myself, out of a sea of engineers. I was proud of myself, but I recognize an issue with that. My goal since being out of college and becoming a career engineer has been to spread the wealth of knowledge I learned through engineering and mentorship. I had a mentor that believed in me and wanted to see me succeed like she has, and it is my moral imperative to pass that torch onto many other girls just like me. The parable I live by as a black woman who happens to be an engineer is, “to whom much is given, much will be required.”

And just recently I received a position as a Junior Civil Engineer for the City of San Diego. In this position I oversee consultant design work, construction material evaluations, and design on Public Works Projects. My job consists of planning, drafting, and specification writing for various capital improvement projects within the city.

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