Meet three Lancaster County women who are changing the face of engineering

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Wednesday marked International Women’s Day, and three women in Lancaster County are paving the way for a new generation of women in their careers.

Lancaster County Engineer Pam Dingman said she was often the only woman in her engineering classrooms at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“I knew it was what I really had passion for and I loved, so I just stuck with it,” Dingman said. “The trail was rough, and there was definitely some hard knocks for me personally, but I persevered. Even today, on occasion there still is sexism out there, and I do whatever I can in my position to eliminate that.”

One of the things she’s done in her own office is hire female engineers, two of whom happen to be mother and daughter.

Jena Vogt, a design engineer for the county, said her parents were both engineers, which exposed her to the field early in life.

“It’s really empowering to see role models, especially one being my mom, excel in the engineering field,” she said. “It’s an interesting dynamic, and it is just really great to have her as a mentor outside of work, but also at work to have her there to help me when I need it.”

Vogt said that Dingman is the first woman she’s worked under and that everyone in the office brings something valuable to the table.

Her mother agrees.

“Here, it doesn’t matter if we’re male or female; we’re just an engineer,” said Karen Wilson, a special projects engineer. “We’re respected for what we know, and that’s a good feeling.”

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To encourage younger women to become engineers, the office has created a partnership with Lancaster County’s 4-H Clover College.

Engineers with the county teach classes to children who want to learn more about science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics careers.

“Just to see their eyes light up, we do try to do a lot of hands-on activities,” Wilson said. “It’s exciting just to have that opportunity to work with the new generation, the younger generation.”

Dingman had some advice for anyone considering the career path.

“If this is your dream and your passion, pursue it with all of your might,” she said.

Dingman said the projects the office works on will last for 100 years, which makes the job rewarding.

“There’s not a lot of careers that you can have that have the ability to impact people’s lives for a hundred years,” she said.

And she has big hopes for the future of women in engineering.

“I would love for another woman in the community to take my chair someday,” Dingman said. “That would be awesome if we could continue to have women engineers in the role of Lancaster County engineer.”

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