Women in Construction Week 2021 Profile: Caroline Burger
City of Madison Engineering shared one profile a day as it celebrated National Women in Construction Week, March 7-13, 2021.
MADISON, WI – Math on a piece of paper has power, especially when it comes to designing or finding an answer, or solution to a problem. But making the math matter in real life, and the process easier to get to the solution, is what Engineer Caroline Burger is all about.
“There’s something about seeing a design on pieces of paper come to life with an excavator or a backhoe or crane …” Burger said, “Something about seeing your thought come to life in 3D.”
Burger is an engineer for the City of Madison Engineering Division, specifically in the stormwater section, which focuses on water quality, potential flooding solutions and overall design of the stormwater system in the City of Madison, but her journey started in Superior, Wis. “In high school, I was kind of drawn to the math and sciences, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Burger said. “I knew that I needed to go to college and get a good job because that’s what my mom told me to do. So I asked my favorite biology teacher for a major where I could use math and science and help clean up lakes and rivers. He said environmental engineering.”
Some good advice from mom and her teacher and a solution to her search for the right career path landed her at the University of Wisconsin— Madison with an undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering with an emphasis on environmental engineering, a graduate degree in civil engineering with an emphasis in construction management and post-graduate work surrounding advanced hydraulics.
Burger went on to work for Earth Tech/AECOM and Brown and Caldwell for nearly two decades before landing at the City of Madison Engineering Division in 2019.
“If you have the skills and the desire to work in the construction-related field, jobs and careers are waiting for you,” Burger said. Her first solution to find in her new position at the City included relief for residents impacted by the 2018 flooding, specifically residents on Waite Circle.
"The culvert under the bike path failed, and the City did an emergency slip-line,” Burger said.
After a number of conversations with residents impacted, she coordinated the solution, the long-term fix, for those living in the area with a construction project completed within seven months.
“Seven months completion is unheard of in the City,” Burger said. “We’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback from people living in this area.”
Throughout her career, Burger said she’s never felt like she’s missed an opportunity or come across roadblocks being a woman in a male-dominated industry, something she’s glad continues to improve for other women in the same position. However, she believes there’s still room for improvement and more women to join.
“We’re especially lacking in higher positions in companies, but I think women are getting there,” Burger said.
Progress and a future of solutions, thanks to an industry with engineers like Burger trying to lead by example for other young women who may be searching for the right career path like she was.
“I have a daughter— and she does not seem to be at all inhibited by what is quote unquote for a man or a woman, so I have high hopes that my generation kind of continued to help pave the path for anything they want to be.”
Making math matter is what she’s focused on each day, as designs come to life, and projects provide solutions for residents in our community.
City of Madison Engineering shared one profile a day to celebrate National Women in Construction Week, March 8-13, 2021.
- Hannah Mohelnitzky, Public Information Officer, City of Madison Engineering Division, 608-669-3560, firstname.lastname@example.org