Civiltech’s Jennifer Hyman, P.E. recently completed the Illinois Road & Transportation Builders Association (IRTBA) Emerging Leaders Program (ELP). In August 2021, Jen was selected to the program which recognizes emerging leaders from member firms and is designed to provide these exceptional individuals with additional growth and educational opportunities within the industry. The program offers the emerging leaders the opportunity to interact with established leaders and network with fellow leaders to help advance and promote the future of the transportation industry.

Civiltech congratulates Jen on this achievement and has enjoyed hearing about the program through the year. Working in a question and answer format, Jen provided this recap of the program.

Looking back at the programs and events what did you consider high points? Which events did you enjoy the most?

The field trips were the highlight of the program for me.

Our first field trip to Springfield in March was a great learning experience. ELP members were asked to advocate for 3 different agenda items on behalf of the Road Builders to our workplace and home district representatives. We needed to both inform them of our position on a particular topic, and ask them for support. It was certainly new territory and a challenge for me, which made it exciting!

We also had the opportunity to visit Ogden Avenue Materials and Prairie Materials Yard. This trip was a great reminder of all the aspects of the transportation and construction industry involved in making a project come to reality, particularly for me in the preliminary engineering stage. We saw the production of both asphalt and concrete pavements, and tested our appetite for heights at the top of the storage silos!

The grand finale of the program included a trip to Washington DC. It is truly an exciting time in our industry with the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which was the focus of our briefings and conversations with Congressmen and women. We broke into small groups to meet with our various home and workplace representatives, largely advocating for support of the I-290 Improvement project. We met both with representatives’ staffers and representatives themselves; I was even fortunate enough to have the opportunity to meet my workplace representative, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, in the U.S. Capitol building.

On top of the experiences at the field trips that were part of ELP program was getting to know my fellow ELP members more in depth. Our class included a range of industry leaders who work in the field, as consultants, and on the planning side, to those even in marketing, trucking and banking. I enjoyed getting to know them both personally and professionally, sharing experiences and expertise, and expanding my network of fellow Road Builders. I look forward to seeing them again at future Road Builder events.

Was there a particular industry related topic of which you feel you now have a deeper understanding and/or something completely new that you learned?

Working in the preliminary engineering phase, I do not interact with contractors or subcontractors very often. During our seminar sessions, I learned a lot about this side of the industry including how to resolve issues in the field, banking, bonding, and insurance, and budgeting/financials. I even added to my engineering acronym library when we talked about WIPs (Work In Progress reports)!

Did you enjoy meeting with State and Federal government officials and lobbying for transportation engineering issues? Is that something you would be interested in doing again the future?

Absolutely. While I wouldn’t find myself becoming a lobbyist anytime soon, I saw the importance of being the expert in the industry and bringing that level of information forward to those in the position to make real change.

Was there a take away from the program that you feel you can apply to your role at Civiltech and/or your engineering career?

Throughout the ELP program, we talked about how we are “in an industry of relationships”. These relationships can help foster problem solving and innovation, enhance communication, and improve workflows. The ELP program provided the opportunity to build relationships and encouraged further involvement in the industry that I may not have sought otherwise. Whether it is through Road Builders, other professional societies, or even across teams internally, I feel this mantra will benefit my role and career at Civiltech.