Andrea Lacasse, PE Breaks Ground in Bridge Design and Construction
Celebrating Women Making an Impact in the AEC Industry
By Regina Sibilia
Senior Engineer Andrea Lacasse has shaped her 16-year career in the AEC industry working as a leader in bridge design and construction. At Tighe & Bond, she works on bridge design and guides municipalities through the management of their bridge inventory. Discovering structural engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst set Andrea on her career path. She loves how structural engineering is tangible and she can share her great appreciation for bridges.
“I think people who are bridge engineers are very passionate about bridges – it’s the architecture, it’s the function. I’m definitely a person where if a friend sees a bridge, they take a picture and send it to me or if we’re driving by a construction site, I’m rubbernecking to see what’s going on,” she laughed.
Andrea balances the technical aspects of design with the need for oversight of public policy. While working in construction at the start of her career, she contributed to many bridge rehabilitation projects. She found it discouraging to see bridges deteriorate due to a lack of maintenance and guidance for municipalities.
“I identified that bridge management was an issue and I didn’t want to be just designing and constructing while being unaware about how to address this problem. So, I started looking for engineering and public policy programs to learn more about how the government works, and how bridges and transportation are financed,” explained Andrea.
Since obtaining her master’s in engineering and public policy from the University of Maryland, she has used her expanded expertise to provide economic analysis of transportation projects for clients.
Andrea is one of a few women leading the charge in structural engineering where overall the percentage of women is vastly lower compared to other engineering disciplines. She encourages other women to be trailblazers as well.
“If you’re interested and excited about construction or structural engineering follow your passion. Don’t shy away because of the lack of women in the field,” said Andrea. “Especially in construction, there are potentially some situations where you may feel intimidated by men that are uncomfortable with the idea of a woman in power in an industry that generally doesn’t have women leaders. I had to work harder and prove myself but it’s definitely worth it in the end.”
She looks to the women working in many other facets of engineering and environmental science throughout Tighe & Bond for inspiration. Especially her colleague Vice President Tiffany Labrie who Andrea says is unmatched in her drive, leadership, and wholehearted commitment to everything she does, including her work.
Andrea is a role model herself, helping to build a strong team of bridge engineers at the firm and establishing round table discussions about best practices in the industry. She has been involved in industry groups such as the Transportation Research Board and is currently part of the West Springfield Planning and Construction Committee. Throughout her career, she has worked to give back to her community through FEMA’s Urban Search & Rescue program and STEAM initiatives for young girls through the Flying Cloud Institute. As a mentor, she shares this advice for young women entering the industry.
“You need to be your best advocate. If you are sitting around waiting for opportunities to just happen it’s going to take a lot longer to get where you want to go.”
No matter what discipline women choose as they seek out careers in the AEC Industry, Andrea serves as a leader they can look up to and a mentor they can depend on.