Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award - Anne Bigane Wilson
The College of Engineering’s Distinguished Engineering Alumni/ Alumnae Award is presented to men and women who have distinguished themselves in any field in ways that reflect favorably on Purdue University, the engineering profession or society in general. These alumni/alumnae are engaged in cutting-edge engineering work, and their record of accomplishments is indicated by their growth into positions of increasing responsibility.
In 2019, Purdue Civil Engineering alumna Anne Bigane Wilson (BSCEM '79, MSCE '81) received the award.
Wilson says that what she learned at Purdue about the importance of collaboration has been crucial throughout her 38-year career: “Construction is a very collaborative business. At least, it should be. I have found that projects are the most successful when all stakeholders are working together.”
And Wilson has seen a great deal of success. She has been an innovator with her family’s fourth-generation business, Bigane Paving Co., diversifying it by acquiring the Chicago-area asphalt manufacturing operations Reliable Ogden LLC and Ogden Avenue Materials. Both are now part of the Bigane portfolio.
Wilson also credits much of her success to the women engineers who came before her. So, she naturally felt it was right to act as a guide and inspiration for those who follow her.
“It’s very important to me that I pay it forward and make sure it’s easier,” she says. “I stand on the shoulders of the women who came before me. They led by example and showed me that I, too, must live and work as an example for the next generation of engineers.”
In addition to her previously mentioned professional successes, Wilson has, time and time again, given back to her community in Chicago and to her alma mater. Throughout her decades of success, she also has been at the forefront of ethical practices, green initiatives, and the promotion of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
This commitment to STEM promotion extends to Purdue, where she continues to partner with the College of Engineering to ensure that the women engineers of tomorrow have every possible opportunity to succeed. To her, though, this is simply her way of “paying back” for 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,” Wilson says. “It’s only natural we should help and encourage them. It’s a benefit to everyone.”
NORTH AVE. BEFORE AND AFTER: 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.