REAL PROS: Mary Fair, Engineer

By Lydia McAllister on Friday, September 25, 2020

Mary Fair

Job: Aviation Project Manager
Employer: Garver
Alma mater: University of Arkansas
Degree: Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering

How did you decide to go into engineering?
“Growing up, I always wanted to be an architect like my grandfather. While my math skills grew, my artistic skills hit a growth stunt. When it came time to make a decision for college, I liked the idea of studying structural engineering, because it allowed me to still work on buildings without having to necessarily be artistic. However, my peers insisted that engineering would be ‘too hard’ so I went to my first day of orientation as a math major. When I realized that path was not for me, I decided to switch to an undeclared business college major. After I saw the long list of electives the business college required, I decided that wasn’t for me either. Ultimately, I decided to believe in myself and go with my gut, and that led me to study engineering.”

What is your job like?
“As a project manager on Garver’s aviation team, I have the opportunity to work hands-on with a variety of clients in Arkansas and Louisiana. I manage numerous general aviation and air carrier airports, where I assist with a range of projects, including new pavement construction, pavement and lighting rehabilitation, drainage improvements and others. My responsibilities include design team management, overseeing plan and specifications preparation, construction management and coordination with federal and state agencies.”

What was your training like?
“I graduated from the University of Arkansas College of Engineering in 2012. I took the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam in 2012 and obtained my Engineering Intern License. I interned at Garver the summer before my senior year of college and started working full-time after graduation. I became a licensed professional engineer in Arkansas in 2017 and [in] Louisiana in 2019.”

Why do you love your field?
“I love serving my clients and seeing projects from conception to closeout. Nothing can replace the feeling of working hard to design a quality project, to seeing it constructed and utilized by your clients, pilots, and friends. It is an honor that my clients put their trust in me to provide them the best quality product that allows them to serve their community.”


Why It's Hot
Employment of civil engineers is projected to grow 6% by 2028. “All indications are that the outlook of the industry is strong. Engineering and construction are economic generators, which allows the industry to excel in all types of economic conditions,” Mary says.

The Degree You'll Need
 Civil engineers need a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, in one of its specialties, or in civil engineering technology. They typically need a graduate degree and licensure for promotion to senior positions. Arkansas requires licensure for civil engineers, so students have to pass that exam before becoming certified.

The Paycheck
The average annual wage for civil engineers in Arkansas is $75,240.

"Engineers are oftentimes problem solvers for clients. Students who want to challenge themselves and use their problem-solving skills to help improve communities should enter engineering. Engineering is a competitive field, but the competition is what drives innovation.” –Mary