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Member Spotlight: Elsie Eaves, Civil Engineer

A founding and life member of SWE, Elsie Eaves served on the SWE Board of Trustees and is credited with numerous “firsts” in the engineering world.

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Member Spotlight: Elsie Eaves, Civil Engineer

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we’re taking a look back on the accomplishments of civil engineer, Elsie Eaves.

head shot of civil engineer Elsie Eaves
Elsie Eaves, civil engineer

When Elsie Eaves was elected a SWE Fellow in 1980, it was said that she “always encouraged women by her active example and participation.” A founding and life member of SWE, she served on the SWE Board of Trustees and is credited with numerous “firsts” in the engineering world.

After receiving her degree in civil engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1920 and working for a variety of employers, Eaves headed to New York City and began employment with McGraw-Hill. Her job, in 1926, was assistant on market surveys for Engineering News-Record (ENR). She became director of market surveys for ENR and director of market surveys for Construction Methods and Equipment, another publication, shortly thereafter. In 1932, Eaves became the manager of Business News.

Her career in the publishing field was a series of firsts. In 1929, Eaves originated and compiled the first national inventory of municipal and industrial sewage disposal facilities. Next, she compiled statistics on needed construction, which helped revitalize the construction industry during the Great Depression. In 1945,

Member Spotlight: Elsie Eaves, Civil Engineer
(Left to right) Society of Women Engineers President Lillian Murad, Elsie Eaves, and Mary Murphy enjoy a conversation at the 1952 American Society of Civil Engineers Centennial of Engineering in Chicago, Illinois.

she organized and directed ENR’s measurement of “Post War Planning” by the construction industry that was used as the official progress report of the industry. Under Eaves’ direction, the “Post War Planning” statistics were converted into a continuous inventory of planned construction. This has become ENR’s “Backlog of Proposed Construction,” an index to more than $100 billion of construction activity. Another of her unique “firsts” was defining the limits and editing the pilot issues of Construction Daily, a daily news service.

 

Eaves’ other notable accomplishments include:

  • First woman to be licensed as a professional engineer in New York State
  • First woman member, life member, honorary member and associate member of Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
  • First woman member of the American Association of Cost Engineers (1957) as well as the first civil engineer
  • First woman elected Chapter Honor Member of Chi Epsilon, the civil engineering honorary

 

About the Author

Jill S. Tietjen, P.E., President and CEO of Technically Speaking, Inc., is a Fellow, Life Member of SWE.  She served as the 1991-1992 National President.  A member of the Boards of Directors of Georgia Transmission Corporation and Merrick & Company, she has been inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame.

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