WIC Week 2024: Five questions with Claudia Rea and Traci Rogala

Photos of Claudia Rea and Traci Rogala

The College of Engineering is proud to celebrate National Women in Construction (WIC) Week. The focus of WIC Week is to raise awareness of the opportunities available for women in the construction industry and to emphasize the growing role of women in this field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 1.3 million women are making their mark on the industry and represent 10.8% of the total workforce. With new construction job opportunities expected to increase in the U.S., companies will be looking to recruit more women than ever before.

Two seniors studying construction management at Wayne State University ― Claudia Rea and Traci Rogala ― shared their perspectives on the value of their education, career prospects and the outlook for women in the field.

What inspired you to pursue a degree in construction management?

REA: I previously studied mechanical engineering and found myself more interested in civil engineering and construction. With an associate degree in engineering from Schoolcraft College, I love seeing projects and things being built from the start through the finish. Learning about Wayne State's program sparked my interest to give it a try.

ROGALA: I learned about construction management through a family friend and was fascinated by its diverse career opportunities. The flexibility of work and the potential to contribute significantly to communities caught my attention and inspired me to pursue a degree in construction management.

What are your career goals, and how is your Wayne State education preparing you to achieve them?

REA: My career goals are to work hard and obtain success through it. Being the best I can be is something I try to do every single day. The Wayne State construction management program is unmatched and has provided me with countless tools to help me succeed in this field.

ROGALA: My goal is to become a successful construction manager, continually expanding my industry knowledge and taking pride in the projects I work on. Wayne State is preparing me for these goals by providing an excellent education. Through supportive faculty and students, networking opportunities, and career support, Wayne State has equipped me with practical experience and industry insights.

What obstacles have you faced in pursuit of success in this field, and how did you overcome them?

REA: I switched my major to construction management in 2022 and was unsure if it was the right move for me. I quickly realized that my decision was a good one and felt at home in the program.

ROGALA: A major obstacle I encountered was navigating the industry without previous experience. Construction management is expansive and ever-changing, requiring continuous learning. To overcome this, I fully utilized my resources. Engaging in classes and seeking mentorship from industry professionals, colleagues and professors helped me gain valuable insights and understanding. Asking numerous questions enabled me to better comprehend my work and stay updated with industry trends.

What practical experience (internships, co-ops, team-based projects) have you gained?

REA: I have worked in the automotive industry for a tier 1 supplier focusing on electrical engineering. Recently, I started as an intern at Walbridge and have been working on the Gordie Howe bridge since May 2023. I am also working on a handful of projects that relate to electrical contracting, in correlation with my senior capstone class at Wayne State.

ROGALA: Through team-based projects and an internship as a project coordinator, I gained significant practical experience. My communication and project management skills have evolved, along with my ability to collaborate within a team setting.

What advice would you give other girls or young women thinking about a career in construction?

REA: Be open to all possibilities, as you may not know exactly where you will end up at a given time. Taking time to enjoy the journey is important as well. There are less women in construction as compared to men, but I think of it as an advantage. I think the key to advancing is to set yourself apart from others. Being a part of such a small percentage is an advantage as you're already different from many others. Setting goals is a great way to see and experience progress.

ROGALA: I highly encourage young women to explore the incredible opportunities in the construction industry. By developing skills, seeking mentorship and remaining confident, any young woman can excel as a construction manager and make a meaningful impact in the industry.

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