VAA Virginia Asphalt Fall/Winter 2022

24 FALL /WINTER 2022 Women of Asphalt Spotlight: ANGELA BEYKE, PE Tigre Hammond, Member Relations Specialist, Virginia Asphalt Association Angela Beyke, PE, Assistant State Materials Engineer, Virginia Department of Transportation A generation or two ago, most women wouldn’t think to look to the asphalt industry for a job, let alone a long-term career. There were few resources and supports for women when entering the industry. As time has past, women have gained greater awareness and unlocked opportunities in the industry, paving the way for upcoming generations to find their footing in a male-dominated industry. This progression is in part due to the efforts of groups like Women of Asphalt, a national coalition founded in 2017 to support women in seeking careers throughout the asphalt industry through mentoring, education and advocacy. Angela Beyke’s story is one that reaches back before such programs existed, and offers further proof of how women have fought for the roles, impact and legacy they hold today. Angela Beyke, PE: Virginia Department of Transportation’s New Assistant State Materials Engineer If someone would have told me fifteen years ago that I would make a career out of materials and asphalt, I would have told them they were lying. Boy, am I glad I was wrong. Growing up, I never really knew what I wanted to do as a career. I had ideas—lawyer, teacher, doctor—but they never stuck. All I knew was that I was good at math and science and wanted to do something with it. Thankfully, I was given my first taste of engineering in high school, and I was instantly hooked. I took engineering courses and tried to narrow down my focus, thinking I had it all figured out. During these classes, I had my first experience being in the minority, since most of the classes had a high male-to-female ratio. One particular group project my senior year was an eye-opener for me. I felt like my opinions and thoughts were ignored and I became very discouraged. Then, I received a piece of advice that I’ve carried with me throughout my career from a teacher I reached out to for help. He listened to how I was feeling and asked if I was going to speak up louder or back down. He said, “You can believe in how people make you feel, back down, and show them they’re right. Or, you can be strong and show them they’re wrong.” Not only did this teacher keep me from walking away from engineering all together, but he also became a voice in the back of my head during hard situations. I enrolled in West Virginia University (WVU) with a plan to major in Mining and Civil Engineering, with a particular interest in remediation of old mining sites. After the first few weeks of classes, I dialed into Civil Engineering. I really felt like I found my niche in the transportation, materials, and concrete and asphalt courses. The civil engineering program had a high male-to-female ratio, as would be expected, but I was able to forge some close-knit relationships with others through my classes, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), and the American Society of Engineers. Along with my degree, one lesson I walked away fromWVU with was how important and how far networking experiences can take you. During the summer between my junior and senior year, I was fortunate to intern for the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) in the pavement group of the Maintenance Division. Upon graduation, I returned to VDOT full time through the Core Development Program, a competitive track for new VDOT employees allowing rotations between divisions. I began in Materials- Pavement Design, learning the ins and outs of asphalt and concrete pavement, Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) and pavement investigations. Within my first year, I observed operations of an asphalt plant, was invited into the field on paving operations and performed field investigations based on premature failures. It was exciting, and every day brought something new. Within ten months, I moved to VDOT’s Asphalt Program and learned as much as possible. I was in the lab learning the tests,