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Employee Spotlight: District 4 Field Engineer Ava Strough

IDOT Blog – Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Ava Strough has been with IDOT for 12 years, moving up the ranks from civil engineer trainee to her current role as field engineer in District 4 in central Illinois.

Here are some of her thoughts about her job and life outside of IDOT.

Have you held other positions at IDOT?

Prior to permanent hiring, I was a summer engineering intern with IDOT for four summers when I was in col­lege. Then, I was hired into the civil engineer trainee position, which has a built-in promotion schedule over the first three years of employment, from CET to Civil Engineer III. I spent my first six years working in District 6 and now work in District 4.

Tell me about your job?

I am responsible for the supervision of all field construction activities relat­ed to my assigned projects. My team and I verify that the contract require­ments are being met and provide the inspection and documentation needed for proper payment. I work on the jobsite with the contractors to make sure the work they do meets the plans and specifications.

What’s the most important impact of your work?

Providing an end product that is an improvement to the safety, accessibility and quality of the state’s roads and bridges.

What’s your favorite part of the job?

The sense of accomplishment when a project is complete. It is always fulfilling to look back on all the steps that were completed, problems resolved and plans changed to get to the finish line. I also enjoy training newer engineers. I had some really great mentors in the beginning of my career, and I feel that I have a duty to try to be that person to the next group of employees.

Anything to highlight?

I was the resident engineer on the Murray Baker Bridge rehabilitation a few years ago. In addition to structural repairs and a deck replacement, a new LED lighting system was installed. Around the Peoria area, this bridge is known to be lit up in different color schemes for specific events. I think it’s pretty cool to have had a hand in making that project a success.

What prepared you for your current role?

I received a bachelor’s in civil engineering from the University of Illinois. During that time, I was an engineering intern with IDOT in the summers, and that gave me an introduction to the field inspection side of civil engineering. Both were a good start to my career, but my experience working at IDOT has been the best training for my current position. Every day on the jobsite, there is an opportunity to develop my engineering and leadership skills.

What do you like to do outside the office?

I am an avid reader and enjoy improving my needlepoint skills. I primarily enjoy cross stitch and embroidery work.