Celebrating Women In Construction Week! Meet Maureen Kelly, TFMoran Civil Project Engineer.

March 5 – 11 is National Women in Construction Week.  According to the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) website, “The focus of WIC Week is to highlight women as a visible component of the construction industry. It is also a time for local chapters to give back to their communities. WIC Week provides an occasion for NAWIC’s thousands of members across the country to raise awareness of the opportunities available for women in the construction industry and to emphasize the growing role of women in the industry.”

In celebration of WIC, TFMoran is highlighting our own Women In Construction, one TFMoran woman engineer or surveyor each day this week. TFMoran is proud to have these women in construction, along with other women professionals on our team.

Maureen Kelly – TFMoran, Inc. Civil Project Engineer

Maureen Kelly is a Civil Project Engineer at TFMoran, Inc. who started with the company in January 2017. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts Lowell with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering, along with a Masters degree in Structural Engineering. She was president of the Chi Epsilon Civil Engineering Honor Society Chapter. Maureen stays connected with her alma mater by partaking in student engineering excursions to the Haiti Development Studies Center. She has been to Haiti twice over the past year to help with developing a more sustainable system for waste in the Haitian communities. Her professional experiences include; watershed analysis, drainage assessment, storm water retention, and calculations for residential and commercial structures.

Why did you go into engineering?
The relationship between the built world and the natural world has always interested me. Civilization can coexist with nature if we make it a priority. As the name suggests, civil engineering is one profession where you can study and influence that relationship.

What are the challenges of your job?
Stakeholders on a project often have competing priorities. Through discussion and compromise the project takes a shape that’s suitable for everyone, but sometimes getting to that point is a challenge. 

What do you like about your job?
I love the variety of my work and the diversity of people involved in each project. I’m new to the field, but I know that after 20 years on the job there will still be more to learn. 

What skills does one need to enter the engineering field?
The ability to make mistakes, learn from them, and move on. That one skill gives you freedom to study anything. Objectivity and patience are also very important. Contrary to common belief, it’s not all about math!


Maureen Kelly, TFMoran Civil Project Engineer, continues her engineering assistance in Haiti with UML Haiti Development Studies Center

In early January, TFMoran Civil Project Engineer Maureen Kelly traveled to the southern Haitian city of Les Cayes. Her traveling companions were five seniors in Civil Engineering from the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML), as well as Physics professor and department head Dr. Robert Giles. Dr. Giles founded the Haiti Development Studies Center (HDSC), the educational facility and guest house where the group spent the week. The students are involved in multiple initiatives focusing on education and sustainable development. Maureen acts as a volunteer assistant on these projects.

BASH (Biodigester Aided Solutions in Haiti)

Several students on the trip are working on a biodigester. It collects a mixture of gases, called biogas, from decomposing organic material. The methane in biogas can power cookstoves, refrigerators, and even engines. The remaining material is ideal as a low-cost fertilizer, a vital resource for subsistence farming in nutrient-stripped soils. In Haiti the team learned more about local agricultural practices and available resources, which will inform further research and design. This project has been awarded funding through University design competitions and the team is now pursuing an EPA grant to study the effect of enzyme additions on biodigestion.

Civil & Environmental Engineering Alternative Capstone

As part of their senior capstone course, the students were tasked with exploring options for alternative waste treatment in Haitian households. In Haiti they visited a project site and performed basic soils testing in the area. This experience will inform their spring semester, during which they will focus on treatment options that address challenges specific to Haiti, where the freshwater supply is very vulnerable to contamination. The students will explore alternative methods of waste disposal that don’t put the water table at risk.

Coteaux & Port Salut 

Coteaux is a coastal community where one of the Haitian students at HDSC, Dayana, grew up. Her family still lives there. During the trip our group visited Coteaux to see her family home, walk around the town, and visit a solar energy plant that powers three communities. The solar installation was still in disrepair following damage from Hurricane Matthew. Due to a lack of funds, even municipalities require extensive periods of time to rebuild after storms. The manager at the site was kind enough to give the group a tour of the facility and pointed out the backup generator that has replaced storm-damaged panels.

A major landmark in Coteaux is “500 Marches de la Médaille Miraculeuse,” or “500 Steps to the Miraculous Medal.” This site consists of an impressive set of 500 steps up to the top of a small mountain overlooking the south-western coastline of Haiti, with a sanctuary and statue at the top. The entire team, including Dr. Giles, our driver, and Dayana’s father all made it to the top. We paused at the peak for rest, reflection, and pictures while butterflies and lizards played around us. Upon our return to the base, legs a bit wobbly and lungs well worked, we turned back to see several goats jumping effortlessly on the stairs near the top.

Port Salut, the last destination of the week, boasts a beautiful beach. Last year when we visited Port Salut, it had only been a few months since Hurricane Matthew. The road was washed out and buildings were badly damaged. Trees were down along the coast and while swimming we would occasionally run into pieces of houses that had been washed into the ocean. This year the damage was still visible, but conditions were much improved and many businesses had reopened. It’s important that travelers learn just as much about all that is beautiful about Haiti as they do about the challenges that face our Caribbean neighbors. We always make time to appreciate the wonders of nature, cultural landmarks, and the growth of communities in the face of adversity.

Moving Forward

The Alternative Capstone team has now begun their Spring semester, and will travel to Haiti again in March. Those students who are working on the biodigester have had a very busy few weeks of research, writing, and revisions; their grant application to the EPA will be submitted in early February. With luck, they will be able to pay for their enzyme research and early installations using grant funds. Through donations from friends, family, and alumni, the Haiti Development Studies Center will continue to support student groups who choose to pursue projects based in Haiti.

For more information about the Haiti Development Studies Center or any of the projects discussed above, please feel free to visit www.uml.edu/Research/HDSC or contact Maureen Kelly at [email protected]