Building a Career Abroad

Wanting to make a difference in the world, Emily Foote (BSCE '10, MSBCM '18) took a chance on engineering. That chance landed her in Queensland, Australia.

Bechtel engineer values professional experience in Australia

Wanting to make a difference in the world, Emily Foote (BSCE ’10, MSBCM ’18) took a chance on engineering. That chance landed her in Queensland, Australia.

Born and raised in Akron, Ohio, Foote had big plans growing up — none of which included becoming a civil engineer. The idea was introduced to her by her uncle, an engineer, who encouraged her to give Purdue University a chance.

“At first, my mind was dead set on going to law school,” Foote said. “But, after learning more and more about both engineering and Purdue, my interests began to shift. Among the colleges that accepted me, Purdue was the first. My mom immediately saw the twinkle in my eye when we entered West Lafayette for our visit. We both knew it was where I was supposed to be.”

Foote said the reason civil engineering was so appealing was because of steel bridges. After her introduction to the Purdue student bridge team while a senior in high school, engineering became the only option.

As a senior, Foote coordinated the National Student Steel Bridge Competition. Coordinating the event was a full-time job but the lessons and skills she developed through it, benefited her greatly in her current career as a construction superintendent for Bechtel.

“Event planning and managing a budget definitely helped me grow in my career” Foote said.

But, as she approached the final months before she earned her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, Foote said she “wouldn’t have changed anything about my time at Purdue, but I still hadn’t been abroad.” With that in mind — and wanting to make the most of the time she had left — Foote sought study abroad opportunities and decided to enroll in the Olympic Gold study abroad program in London.

While in London, Foote said the “most interesting experience on this trip was meeting with Bechtel and witnessing their projects firsthand.”

Foote said she was immediately impressed with Bechtel and the company’s work, and it gave her a definite idea of what she wanted to do and who she wanted to work for. Shortly after graduation, she moved to Houston to work for Bechtel in the subcontracts department where she was soon given her first on-site job in Queensland, Australia, on Curtis Island.

“It was a roller coaster of emotions moving to Australia out of college” Foote said. “Things really changed for the better for me, it felt good to live in a college-like environment again.”

While working in Australia, Foote was contacted by Bechtel CEO Bill Dudley to help coordinate and plan the upcoming Purdue study abroad to Australia that following year. Foote said she used her personal and professional experience to balance the student curriculum with seeing Bechtel’s latest projects.

“The stars aligned for me to help assist in planning this trip” Foote said. “It was all about balancing the curriculum with cool stuff in all honesty. Discovering everything you could do in construction truly fulfilled me and helped me realize this is what I was born to do.”

To this day, Foote said she remains heavily connected to Purdue through sports and events — and her co-workers are all very well aware that being a Boilermaker is a part of who she is.

“I couldn’t be happier with the way things in my career have gone and I couldn’t have a better employer,” Foote said. “It amazes me how interconnected my career has been with Purdue. Witnessing how full circle everything has come in my career through Purdue has been incredible.”