News & Insights

International Women in Engineering Day 2021 - Engineering Heroes

Each year on June 23 we tip our hats to recognize the efforts, sacrifices and achievements of female engineers around the world for the International Women in Engineering Day.

We are lucky at Cardno to have many talented female engineers who are working on projects that are truly making a difference for communities.

From structural engineers working on the next big commercial tower, to environmental engineers helping future proof the environment for the next generations, all the way to maritime engineers helping developing countries receive essential supplies via ports, we have them all at Cardno and are thankful for their bravery, hard work, and commitment to the engineering industry.

Carin Pires is a Maritime Engineer based in our Brisbane office. She is living out what she calls her “second engineering life”. After having several years off to raise a family, Carin came back to the industry through Cardno Ports & Maritime team and started working in a part-time basis, connecting developing countries to the world through the delivery of ports projects. After completing her education in Maritime and Civil Engineering between Portugal and Finland, Carin started her career in the UK and moved to Australia 12 years ago. Having worked around the world and for many large consultancies she is grateful to Cardno for granting the restart of her career after becoming a mum and keeping a healthy work-life balance.

“I’m forever grateful Cardno gave me my second engineering life after 7 years out on maternity leave, my work-life balance couldn’t be better with my little team!”
Cardno Employee Carin Pires and her kids

Heather Schwar is a Senior Water Resource Engineer based in Milwaukee. Heather attributes her family and children as her motivation to be responsible and implement sustainable practices on all of her projects. Heather has worked on projects around the world including the United States and New Zealand, including erosion control, stream, shoreline, floodplain, and wetland restoration and mitigation projects. Heather engages the local communities and governments when implementing sustainable engineering plans on projects to ensure there is a fair outcome for everyone involved.

“The world we are leaving for future generations is in our hand right now. Sustainability should be more than a business practice, it should be a lifestyle.”
Cardno employee Heather Schwar conducting stream assessment

The theme of International Women in Engineering Day is ‘Engineering Heroes’, we asked both Carin and Heather who their engineering heroes were.

“I’d say my engineering hero is Luis Costley-White, my old family friend and mentor who sadly passed away a few years ago. He was a highly successful Portuguese-English mechanical engineer, always dedicated to the port industry. His passion for the engineering world, for mentoring and improving young engineers’ education and goals shaped my education and career. While in my last stages of university I’d seat with him for hours in his office, just across LISNAVE Lisbon old shipyards that he helped to build and manage, and we would talk about my future, how to get to my goals, and about his life and his big projects, such as rebuilding large tankers broken in half to the hydro lift in the LISNAVE Setubal Shipyards that we visit several times. He shared his successes and his fails and the lessons learnt will always stay with me.

His passion for the environment was also a driven force for me to keep my path in the Maritime field and shaped my final thesis in Environmental Port management systems. Luis worked in his office until his late 80’s until his health gave up on him and we always kept in touch. I miss talking to him and he would be thrilled to hear about all the new technologies and new projects around.”

“My engineering hero would be my Master’s advisor, Dr. John Hoopes, University of Wisconsin. He had so much enthusiasm and passion for teaching. He taught me how to apply engineering in the real world and look at what’s really important in a problem. 

For three years, he would accompany me and another student on a 6-hour long road trip to our project site. We would stay for 2-3 days over the weekend, carrying in our supplies and equipment about a mile into the woods, doing manual labor to install and monitor the project, only to have the long drive back Sunday so we could attend classes Monday morning. He never complained about attending, was excited to go actually.

Some of my favorite memories are sitting in a restaurant with him and my fellow grad student and we’d be discussing the hydraulics of the stream or a home work problem we had. He would grab a napkin and start writing out equations and talk to us about different ways to look at things. I would take his napkins home with me and sit down with a model or calculator to check his work. He was always so accurate with “back of the napkin” calculations.

Just an inspiration. I think of him often when I faced with a project that seems insurmountable.

Its not just on INWED that we should celebrate the accomplishments of our women engineers, but every day!