Interview with Ewa Bauer, Chief Engineer for the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District

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Ewa Z. Bauer‐Furbush, P.E., is the Chief Engineer for the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District. Her career as a civil engineer spans 30 years. She joined the District in January 1995 as the Deputy District Engineer. Prior to that, she worked for the California Department of Transportation. In her capacity as Deputy District Engineer, Bauer has successfully managed numerous engineering design and construction projects ranging from the massive Seismic Retrofit Project to the Toll Plaza Paving Project. Bauer hails from Poland where she earned a Master of Science in Civil Engineering, cum laude, from Swietokrzyska Polytechnical University and a postgraduate diploma in residential architecture from the Warsaw Polytechnical University.

How did you get involved in transportation?

My parents, especially my father, encouraged me to study advanced math and physics in high school. He told me when I was very young that the belief that boys are better at math than girls was simply not true and that such notions should not stop me from doing what I believed was right for me. In college, I studied civil engineering including subjects related to transportation planning and design and construction of bridges, highways, streets, and airports. This led to some amazing career opportunities in the transportation industry.

What do you think is the most critical issue facing the SF Bay Area transportation industry today?

The state of disrepair of our roads and bridges. Most streets and highways resemble obstacle courses because of potholes and cracked and subsiding pavement. We need to make consistent, year‐by‐year investments, at every governmental level, in rebuilding and maintaining streets, roads, highways, and bridges. We cannot continue with an “act only when there is a crisis” approach. While drama associated with crisis is great for the front page news, a good, practical approach of routinely taking care of transportation infrastructure before crisis happens is a much more cost-efficient approach.

What would you like young women interested in a career in transportation to know?

Until we learn to teleport matter, transportation will remain essential to commerce, leisure, and many other aspects of human activities.  This is why transportation will continue to offer great career opportunities.

Who do you get inspiration from?

Positive, critical thinkers. I am against blind conformism that very often breeds obstructionism. Critical and out‐of‐the‐box thinking when used to solve problems was, is and will be the engine of human progress in its best sense.

What books are you reading right now?

Mr. Putin by Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy. I am very interested in the psychology of what makes people become who and what they are, and what makes some people crave power more than anything.