No more Calilfornia dreamin’
Civil engineering grad Bailey Benson, ’18, loved making things. She wanted to be involved in commercial construction—a fascination ingrained by both her father, a residential architectural engineer, and her grandfather, a former electrical engineer who would take her to construction sites whenever they walked their neighborhood together. Today, Benson is a field engineer with PCL Construction Services in California.
“My job involves working with everyone from designers to tradespeople, and my days vary wildly,” she said. “I help make sure everything that goes into making a structure gets done, under budget and on time.”
In her first year after graduating from CSE, Benson interacted daily with Walt Disney engineers and Imagineers who bring Disney theme parks and attractions to life. PCL Construction was the general contractor for a building remodel of Downtown Disney District at Disneyland Resort in California.
“I was in charge of the electrical and mechanical scope of work,” she recalled. “I still can’t believe I got to work with and learn from all these creative Imagineers who create all the cool effects.”
For the next 30 months Benson will help build new student housing on the UCLA campus. The 17-story structure will be used as part of the athletes’ village for the 2028 Olympic Games. She hopes someday to build “a skyscraper as cool as the Empire State Building” and encourages younger people to consider civil engineering careers.
“There is this perception that construction work is physically demanding and it doesn’t pay well,” Benson says. “So students don’t even look there. Also, men by far outnumber women in the field. But there is a lot of growth opportunity in this industry, especially for women.”