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Suzanne Beale, BEng Mgt '88

Civil Engineering & Management | Bridge Collapse Inspires Career

Suzanne Beale was in high school when she saw what she recalls as “a cool movie” capturing the collapse of the four-month-old Tacoma Narrows suspension bridge in Washington State.

Watching that failure of engineering ignited an enthusiasm for roads and bridges that has stayed with the 1988 Civil Engineering & Management graduate for more than three decades.

“Since then I’ve been fascinated with the combination of code and art that goes into the design and construction of bridges and roads,” she says. “Each bridge, road section, interchange, intersection has its own flair and distinct nature, which allows freedom for the designer to express beauty in the layout, along with providing for the requirements of codes and guidelines.”

Her enthusiasm took Beale through roles as a transportation systems engineer, and a project engineer, and a manager. In 2000, she was certified as a Professional Traffic Operations Engineer with the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), and in 2007 named a Fellow Member of ITE.

In 2004, she moved to a position with the Town of Whitby, where she is now Commissioner of Public Works.

While her current responsibilities go far beyond transportation infrastructure and include oversight of the community’s parks maintenance, forestry, waste management, and fleet management, she says her engineering degree has continued to serve her well.

“I’ve been extremely fortunate to work in various capacities in both the private and public sectors, and each role has been rewarding and a learning experience,” she says. “I think my career highlight is that engineering is so much more than I thought it would be – and I continue to learn each day.”

Whatever the inspiration, she encourages today’s students to follow their passion and enthusiasm.

“A career in engineering isn’t easy, so you need to love what you are doing,” she says. “But if you do then you will be successful your entire career.

“Also be real and learn how to communicate well with everyone.”