Elyse O'Callaghan

Elyse O'Callaghan, B.S.

Marquette University Student Named New Face of Civil Engineering

Reston, Va. – Elyse O’Callaghan, a fifth-year student at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wis., was recently named one of 10 New Faces of Civil Engineering – College Edition by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). This recognition program promotes the achievement of young civil engineers by highlighting their academic success, volunteerism, and dedication to making a positive impact on society through their chosen profession.

Since her freshman year, O’Callaghan has been involved with Engineers Without Borders USA (EWB-USA). Currently she is serving as a project manager for a vehicular bridge senior design project in Guatemala, which is scheduled to be constructed in 2015. Previously, she led an electrical infrastructure project and a pedestrian bridge project in Guatemala.

Her work with EWB-USA earned her a co-op internship with CH2M Hill working as an inspector on the Milwaukee Zoo Interchange project and other projects in the transportation engineering division.

“As an engineer, you affect social welfare and health on a massive scale so you have to live by a code of ethics and morals,” said O’Callaghan on what she finds most rewarding about the profession. “The creativity and imagination needed to come up with solutions to problems both big and small, and the communication and leadership skills to make those solutions culturally and socially appropriate so that they will meet the needs of their end users, make for rewarding work.”

In addition to her volunteer work with EWB-USA, O’Callaghan is also involved in several other service organizations including serving as a high school catechist, the Manresa Scholars Program and participating in MARDI GRAS (Making a Real Difference in Gulf Region and Surrounding) service trips. She also is a mentor for the Future City competition for high school students.

Founded in 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers represents more than 145,000 civil engineers worldwide and is America’s oldest national engineering society. ASCE’s 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, graded America’s cumulative GPA for infrastructure at a D+. The Report Card app for Apple and Android devices includes videos, interactive maps and info-graphics that tell the story behind the grades, as well as key facts for all 50 states. For more information, visit www.asce.org.


Elyse received a scholarship from the American Public Works Association Wisconsin Chapter this past November. The Wisconsin Chapter Scholarship Program is a method to promote the public works professions to undergraduate students throughout the state of Wisconsin. Elyse received one of six $1,000 scholarships and a one-year membership to the APWA. To be eligible for this scholarship, students must be full-time undergraduate student with junior or senior status, be seeking a degree in a field related to public works, have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0, and be sponsored by a current WI APWA member.

Elyse’s interest in engineering stemmed from a young age because both her father and her grandfather are mechanical engineers. In addition, Elyse enjoys building Legos with her 7-year-old brother, when she gets a chance to visit home. However, she decided to pursue a slightly different path than her father and grandfather, going for a civil engineering degree because she enjoys bridges. Elyse chose Marquette because she knew she wanted to attend a Jesuit University for the community and focus on service opportunities that it offers. She also liked the co-op opportunities that Marquette offers within their civil engineering degree program, which made coming to Marquette an easy choice.

Since coming to Marquette, Elyse has become very involved in the community and in student organizations. She works with Engineers Without Borders which gave her the networking and work experience to earn a co-op position with CH2M Hill. At CH2M Hill, Elyse has gained experience in both the field as well as in design in the transportation engineering field. She has served as a tour guide of Engineering Hall since it opened in 2012, and helps with other outreach events such as a seminar for seniors in high school who are considering engineering at Marquette. On campus, she works at the Al McGuire Center as a tutor for the athletes and as a TA for the freshman Civil Engineering course - Intro to Infrastructure. 

Elyse has held a variety of leadership roles within EWB including Project Lead for 2 years on a combination micro-hydro, solar electric system in a community in Guatemala, Project Co-Lead on a pedestrian bridge in Guatemala, EWB Chapter President, and Project Manager for her senior design project which will be a vehicle bridge in Guatemala. The pedestrian bridge project was pursued in conjunction with the organization Bridges to Prosperity, constructed in May 2012, and won a 2013 Best of State Engineering Excellence Award from ACEC as well as a National Honor EEA. Elyse and 3 other chapter members traveled to Washington DC to receive the award in April of this year, and she along with 4 other EWB chapter members recently traveled to Tennessee for the Bridges to Prosperity Bridge Builder Conference in September of this year.

"Elyse O'Callaghan is from Wauwatosa and is a junior Civil Engineering student at Marquette. Elyse is an active participant in Engineers Without Borders where she has lead multiple student groups in various projects from a pedestrian bridge to an electric utility project in Guatemala. She is also a participant and student leader in MARDI GRAS. This student organization provides aid to those affected by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Elyse is also an active participant in the Appalachia Service Project that provides renovation and restoration to homes in the Appalachian Mountains. Elyse is also a member of Chi Epsilon. Elyse has been an intern at CH2M Hill for the past two years and is sponsored by David Kuemmel, retired Commissioner of Public Works for the City of Milwaukee, retired Adjunct Professor at Marquette University." -APWA January 2013 Newsletter

January 2014


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