Anne Bigane Wilson: Leader and mentor
Anne Bigane Wilson credits much of her success to the female engineers who came before her. So naturally she feels it is only right to guide and inspire young women learning to be engineers today.
Wilson also credits her father, Edward Bigane, with instilling in her the importance of integrity.
"Personal integrity is, above everything else, key to dealing with people both personally and professionally," she says. "I've found this to be the most important factor in my success over the years."
And she has achieved a great deal of success. Wilson has been an innovator in her family's fourth-generation business, Bigane Paving Co., diversifying it by acquiring two Chicago-area asphalt manufacturing operations, Reliable Ogden LLC and Ogden Avenue Materials. Both are now part of the Bigane portfolio.
In 2017, Wilson became the first person to receive a Construction Engineering and Management Outstanding Alumni Award at Purdue. Two years later, she won one of Purdue College of Engineering's highest honors, the Distinguished Engineering Alumni/Alumnae Award — given in honor of her outstanding professional career and service to the community.
"Honestly, I was in total disbelief when they told me I would be receiving the DEA," she says. "I've always seen this award as a really big deal, and for someone like me to have been selected — well, I was just blown away.”
In addition to her professional successes, Wilson has, time and again, given back to her community in Chicago and to her alma mater. Throughout her career, she has been at the forefront of ethical construction practices, green initiatives and the promotion of women in STEM fields. For the latter endeavor, she regularly partners with Purdue's College of Engineering to ensure that the female engineers of tomorrow have every opportunity possible to succeed.
Wilson is a past president of both the American Subcontractors Association and the Federation of Women Contractors and is the co-founder of Purdue's Women in Construction program, which promotes the professional development of young women in construction and helps recruit and retain women in Purdue's CEM program. She is also a longtime member of CEM's Industrial Advisory Board and is often invited to be a guest lecturer at universities throughout the U.S.
To further encourage young women interested in engineering, Wilson is a registered mentor on MentorNet, an online program that pairs students with successful women in the STEM fields.
To Wilson, this is simply her way of "paying back" all the opportunities that were afforded to her.
"These young people, they're the next generation of engineers — they're the ones with the new ideas that will take our world further ahead," she says. "It's only natural we should help and encourage them. It is a benefit to everyone."
NORTH AVE. BEFORE (above) AND AFTER (below): One of Wilson's most memorable projects was for Chicago's North Avenue Bridge reconstruction project in 2005. Her company developed an asphalt mix for a temporary bridge during the reconstruction that withstood the Windy City's notoriously harsh winter weather. The bridge would be used for more than a year and withstood the traffic and weather throughout.