Skip to main content

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Celebrating Alumni

Leslie Labruto, BE 2011

Director of Resilient Communities with Clinton Climate Initiative

Leslie Labruto

  Read how Leslie Labruto's passions fuel sustainable solutions globally.






Meg Pirkle, BE 1989

Chief Engineer, Georgia Department of Transportation


 A Vanderbilt University School of Engineering alumna is the first female chief  engineer for Georgia’s transportation department.

 Meg Bryson Pirkle earned her Vanderbilt bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in  1989 and went to work for Georgia Department of Transportation’s planning  department the same year, later earning her master’s in civil engineering from  Georgia Tech. She’s currently director of GDOT’s Permits and Operations Division  and will take on her new job effective Jan. 1.

 “I appreciate the confidence and faith the board and the commissioner have  placed in me,” Pirkle said in a news release about her promotion. “I am proud of  the time I have spent working with the excellent employees of this department, who  are so passionate and committed to our mission. I look forward to our continued efforts to improve the state’s transportation system.”

Prior to her current role, Pirkle served as a ssistant to the chief engineer, guiding GDOT through the strict parameters of spending $930 million in federal stimulus grants for transportation improvements. More recently, she spearheaded implementation of the Governor’s Winter Weather Taskforce’s recommendations.

Mike Banasiak, BE 2009

Engineer-diver at Collins Engineers

Mike Banasiak Directly after graduating VU, the last thing I wanted was a  desk job. Working as an engineer-diver for Collins  Engineers, I perform underwater structural inspections of  bridges, tanks, and water front facilities across the  country. We routinely respond to emergency events, and  my work has taken me coast to coast, to potable water  pumping facilities in Chicago, Navy bases in Florida, and  crystal clear rivers in Idaho. Racing  the concrete canoe  for ASCE highlights to me the fact that engineering  doesn't have to be all calculations, and codes; it can be  adventurous and fun!








Payton Dobbs, BE 2000

Global Head of Sales Operations, Nest Labs (Google)

Payton Dobbs

 After graduating from Vanderbilt in 2000, I studied architecture at Harvard's  Graduate School of Design briefly before taking a job with Deloitte Consulting in  San Francisco. There, I worked as a consultant to various Fortune 500  companies  helping advise and implement enterprise applications, such as SAP.  After  recognizing I lacked broader business knowledge and looking to make a  career  move, I went to London Business School to pursue an MBA with a  concentration  in Finance. I spent my summer internship working at Google as a  Product  Specialist within their AdSense organization, then joined full-time within  Sheryl  Sandberg's Online Sales & Operations group. I managed sales teams  focusing on  the financial services sector spanning everything from venture-  backed startups  up to our largest customers at Google. In 2010, I won Google's  'Great Manager  Award' and was recently recognized with the top leadership  award within our  Americas Large Customer Sales organization. Subsequently, I  have joined a  recent acquisition of Google's in the home automation space, Nest  Labs, to lead  their global Sales Operations team.



Lauren Johnson, 2013


Lauren Johnson

 After graduating from Vanderbilt, I started work with ExxonMobil in  Environmental Services as a Project Manager. I work on sites, that  because of their past use, require some form of environmental remediation  work to clean up the soil or groundwater at the property. I am involved in  projects utilizing a variety of engineering controls such as caps, sheet pile  barriers, pumping systems, and oil/water separation. As a project  manager, I interact with others within ExxonMobil as well as third party  property owners and consultants and the State. Vanderbilt provided the  engineering background along with the project management and  communication skills necessary for this role.






Sonja M. Davenport, 2013

Stonefield Engineering 

Sonja Davenport

 After a short stint as a Civil Engineer  at the NYC Parks Department, I  decided that I would enjoy working for  the private sector and landed my  current job at a small engineering firm  called Stonefield Engineering. Our  firm specializes in site development  and traffic engineering, primarily for  real estate developers. I work on the  site team designing site layouts and  developing site plans for commercial  and residential properties. This  includes grading and drainage,  utilities, landscaping, and a little bit of  creativity! Site development in New  Jersey involves a lot of environmental  permitting with the NJDEP, and I am  making it my personal professional  goal to become our resident expert in  environmental land use. The great  thing about working at a small office  is the flexibility to develop your own  career and passions. Through my  company I have the opportunity to take courses at a local university to become certified in wetland delineation and landscape design. There is a lot of room to grow and learn in the field of civil engineering, and I am enjoying pursuing it even after graduation. 

 Jodie Leeka, 2010 & 2011


Jodie Leeka After graduating from Vanderbilt with a civil engineering  undergraduate degree in 2010 and construction management  master’s degree in 2011, I moved to Washington, D.C. to work for  general contractor Clark Construction. There, I spent some time  negotiating subcontracts for multiple construction projects and then  transitioned to project management operations on site. My first  project was renovating the World War II Memorial on the National  Mall, followed by expansion of an existing terminal at Ronald  Reagan National Airport. I received in depth exposure to nuances of  improving existing, operating facilities and implementing quality  control measures to ensure designs are met.

 I'm currently working at Deloitte as an Engineering and Construction Consultant. My peers and I bring diverse backgrounds to provide  clients with guidance to effectively procure, develop, and/or manage  their capital assets. I have evaluated a proposed passenger railroad soliciting funding for design and construction sufficiency and risks. Additionally, I have introduced critical path method scheduling tools to equip non-construction industries manage their initiatives.

Working on the concrete canoe for three years at Vanderbilt equipped me with valuable, hands-on experience with managing project schedules, budgets, and teams, material construction processes, and industry standards.