Inspiring Women in AEC

Industry news

By Savannah House

Women are doing incredible things in the AEC industry. In celebration of their achievements, we’ve highlighted some of architecture, engineering and construction’s brightest stars. Each of the women featured here is driving innovation and flying high in her respective field.

We explore what makes these professionals tick and the value they bring to their projects—and the AEC industry at large.

A mentor in the construction industry

As CEO of Juneau Construction, Nancy Juneau says that she’s used to hearing mixed reactions when people hear that she’s CEO of a construction company. They range from “That’s so cool,” to “Really? What kind of construction?”

One of Juneau’s early jobs was at a structural engineering firm. She loved it. Today, Juneau helps other women get a foot in door by acting as a mentor for women in construction.

Juneau says that culture and doing the right thing are key to running a successful company. Her firm has won numerous accolades in Georgia, where it’s headquartered.

Juneau knows that women can stand out in the AEC industry and is committed to supporting others achieve that goal.

Juneau makes her firm stand out—and keeps it moving forward—by encouraging a strong company culture and adopting new technology to attract the next generation of employees.

Pioneer of sustainable communities

Not only does she believe in the power of sustainability, Katrina Urbanik is also the force behind Katrina Urbanik Architecture.

A 2020 AEC Excellence Awards winner, her most recent project is WILD, a sustainable residential community in Norway faced with high sea levels. Designed to move like a floating village, the key to this impressive and futuristic project was to make WILD carbon-negative, and to set the consumption of other resources in a self-sustaining loop.

“[The goal was to] develop a sustainable village that was both a private and residential and a tourist destination,” Urbanik says. “[We also had to make it] carbon-negative so it generates more energy from renewable resources than it generates.”

Learn more about WILD, a 2020 AEC Excellence Awards winner.

A trailblazer in engineering

As founder of New York City-based structural engineering firm Hatfield Group, Erleen Hatfield is not content with resting on the laurels from her illustrious career of more than 25 years. Yes, Hatfield has won acclaim for her interpersonal skills, but colleagues say it’s her technical prowess that really sets her apart in the industry.

A lecturer at Yale’s School of Architecture, Hatfield’s impressive roster includes the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

“Not many women run their own firm,” Hatfield says. “The idea of trying to set out and be an example for women was certainly part of the reason I started out on my own.”

Hands-on generative design experts

For years, Lilli Smith, Senior Product Manager for Generative Design in Revit, has harbored a passion for re-envisioning the way buildings are designed. Her background as an architect was instrumental when she joined Revit Technology during its early startup days. Smith has worked on a number of Autodesk tools, including Dynamo, FormIt, Project Refinery and Vasari.

Now she’s staying true to her original mission of reimagining buildings: Smith is at the forefront of Generative Design in Revit, a powerful technology that generates data-driven design options based on inputs and constraints that help AEC professionals iterate to the best one.

Jacqueline Rohrmann—known to many as That BIM Girl—is a civil engineering grad from TU München, who caught the industry’s attention with her YouTube channel, where she shares tips and tricks for Revit as well as reports on latest trends of the construction industry.

Winner of the 2019 Autodesk University Design Slam, she is passionate about BIM and everything from robotics to AI. She recently finished her master’s thesis on “Design Optimization in Early Project Stages – A Generative Design Approach to Project Development” and is now a Design Manager at Tesla.

Smith and Rohrmann recently teamed up to host a hands-on workshop at Autodesk University, Dynamo from BIM Automation to Generative Design. This on-demand 4-part workshop will increase your knowledge of generative design workflows and help you learn how to do data-driven design exploration.

Jacqueline Rohrmann, along with other young designers, are leveraging the power of machine learning, automation, and generative design to change the industry for the better.

Committed to high-performance buildings

Jill Kurtz is key to sustainability initiatives at Page, a multidisciplinary architecture and engineering firm. An advocate for sustainable design, she helped her firm adopt the American Institute of Architects (AIA)’s 2030 Commitment–a pledge to design carbon-neutral buildings, developments and major renovations by 2030. 

“We have a responsibility as architects and engineers to clients and communities to use our expertise to help create higher-performance buildings,” Kurtz says. “AIA 2030 was a perfect fit for our firm, and that’s why we were an early adopter.”

The Queen of Prefab

As Head of Industrialized Construction Strategy and Evangelism at Autodesk, Amy Marks meets with leading architecture and construction firms to discover how they are deploying industrialized construction techniques, such as DfMA (design for manufacturing) and prefabrication.

Known as the Queen of Prefab, Marks is helping enable a transformational change to optimize industrialized construction through the convergence of design, construction, manufacturing, and operations.

Amy Marks aka the Queen of Prefab talks about the critical role designers will play in industrialized construction.

The future of the AEC industry will run on advanced technologies such as digital twins and collaborative design, while meeting the accelerating need for sustainability.

These women’s remarkable achievements show that they have a lot to contribute in spearheading these revolutionary efforts.

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