Construction engineering grad encourages aspiring female builders


December 11, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2018 commencement. Read about more graduates

Growing up, Sylvia Faszczewski had an affinity for math and hands-on projects. This skill set drew her to the field of engineering. Sylvia Faszczewski Sylvia Faszczewski. Download Full Image

“As many other college students can relate to, I struggled to decide upon a specific area in engineering to pursue,” said Faszczewski, a construction engineering major in Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. “But I saw the most growth and opportunity to make an impact through engineering.”

After receiving valuable advice from Kristen Parrish, an associate professor of construction engineering, Faszczewski discovered the perfect fit. She found the undergraduate program offered a rigorous engineering challenge and also gave her the freedom to choose a career in engineering design or construction management.

“It was the best of both worlds,” says Faszczewski. “I could not see myself in any other degree program.”

Faszczewski’s hard work reflected her passion for the field, earning her the Robert J. Wheeler Memorial Scholarship and the Charles and Nancy O’Bannon Scholarship for Construction to support her academic studies.

Faszczewski found most professors in the construction engineering program had industry experience or were currently working in industry. One example is Chase Farnsworth, a faculty associate in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment who serves as a senior project development manager at the construction company Mortenson.

“Some of the most valuable information I’ve received is advice based on true industry experience from professors,” said Faszczewski. “The information isn’t something students would be able to find in a textbook, which makes it priceless.”

Outside of the classroom, Faszczewski focused on supporting aspiring female builders with a “we can do it” mentality. She served as co-president of ASU’s Advancing Women in Construction initiative, an industry-led mentorship and grant program aimed at increasing the number of women in the construction management program and seeing them successfully graduate.

The women in the program also serve as role models for K-12 students at education outreach events, such as the Annual Wagon Build or Girls-Make-A-Thon.

“I’ve been given the privilege to create a strong and positive impact on the female construction community,” said Faszczewski. “My AWIC team has been able to reach (from) top construction female executives to young elementary school girls. We’re spreading the message that although we may be a minority in a male-dominated field, we can do it, and we can do it exceptionally well.”

After graduation, Faszczewski has accepted a full-time position with Mortenson Construction's Wind Energy Group. She’ll be traveling around the country building wind turbines.

Amanda Stoneman

Science Writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

480-727-5622

Fulfilling a dream and shaping the automotive industry's future


December 11, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2018 commencement. Read about more graduates

Richard Mortensen is proud to be accomplishing his goal of earning a degree in engineering, but returning to college and managing his time with a family of four children was challenging. Richard Mortensen Richard Mortensen. Download Full Image

After working in the industry as an automotive technician, Mortensen wanted to attend his hometown university to earn an engineering degree.

“To me, engineering is about making things better for those around us in our community, our nation, our world,” he said. “By being an engineer, I get to be a part of a team that makes these goals a reality.”

Outside the classroom, Mortensen joined the Arizona State University EcoCAR3 team. The international EcoCAR3 competition tasked university student teams with developing high-tech, environmentally friendly cars. Mortensen applied his automotive industry knowledge as part of ASU’s EcoCAR3 mechanical team, working on the design and layout of high-voltage cabling fixtures on their hybrid Chevy Camaro.

Team projects also taught him to keep an open mind while working with a group.

“There are many ways to accomplish a task or goal, and you might find one that works better than the option you chose,” he said.

Senior Lecturer James Contes was instrumental in Mortensen’s educational journey. Contes showed him there’s always something new to learn even if you know the profession well.

That advice will be important as Mortensen moves into the next phase of his career. He has noticed the automotive and energy industries are rapidly changing and wants to be part of new developments as he moves to search for his next job.

“I want to have the opportunity to be a source of the change we are seeing and be able to provide for my family,” Mortensen said.

Despite the past four years of busy school and family schedules, Mortensen enjoyed getting the chance to spend time with his kids at ASU football games. After graduation, he’s looking forward to having more time and resources to give his children experiences that will help them grow.

Monique Clement

Communications specialist, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

480-727-1958