Meet Michelle Winkelmann, PE, Transportation Section Manager at Burns & McDonnell Engineering Company, Inc. (www.burnsmcd.com)
Tell us a little about your business. – We are 100% employee owned, where every employee of Burns & McDonnell is an owner and is dedicated to the success of the company. We are a multi-disciplinary engineering firm that supports the design and construction of critical infrastructure.
As a transportation engineer and project manager, I have supported the planning, design and construction oversight of transportation infrastructure projects from rural county roads to multi-level interchanges. Our projects support the transportation backbone of America moving people and goods safely and efficiently. Public health, safety and welfare are paramount in what we do. Our projects involve all modes of transportation from pedestrian and bicycle facilities to roads and bridges, to rail.
How did you get started in the business? – When I was growing up, I thought that an engineer drove a train, not having any idea what engineers did or what an engineering degree could provide. My now husband, Tim, was studying to be an engineer, and at that time in my life, I knew I wanted to be a professional at something. I thought if he can do it, so can I. Not really an inspiring story, but it worked out in my favor as I am passionate about making the world a better, safer place. What better career that one that impacts the lives of people every day?
I have had several large expressway projects that I was fortunate to manage over the years that physically changed the landscape and provided much needed improvements to our infrastructure. My most important achievement, however, I believe has been mentoring others and providing the platform for them to grow professionally.
Tell us a little about your family. – I have been married to my husband, Tim, for 27 years. We have two children; our son Max is a mechanic for John Deere and our daughter Faith will be a sophomore at Kansas State University studying agronomy. After over 20 years living in Kansas, we moved back home to Nebraska in 2017 where Tim transitioned from a career in facility management to work the family farm.
What do you see as one of the biggest turning points in your life? – The day my children were born. They give me the will power to be an example for them to be proud of.
What is the most unique or interesting thing about you that most people probably don’t know? – We have 1200 peonies planted in our front yard, yes that is a lot of flowers and no I do not have a green thumb.
Who inspires you? – My dad has been the ultimate example of honesty, integrity and a hard work ethic. He has always supported me and never placed limitations on what he thought I could do or accomplish, making me believe in myself and my abilities. He inspires me to never give up and take challenges and turn them into opportunities.
What local nonprofit organization(s) are you passionate about or involved with, and are there any special reasons why? – I am currently the Nebraska State Director of MathCounts. MathCounts is a national middle school mathematics competition. This is an opportunity for these smart, amazing youth to shine. Every year I help with these competitions, I am amazed with these talented students, and they reinforce how bright the future can be. Supporting and encouraging youth in STEM fields is essential to growing and maintaining our engineering workforce. We need to expose these talented youth to the amazing opportunities and careers in STEM fields.
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