• STEM Hero Awards •
Mari Gonzalez is a Civil Engineer and Project Manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Operations division in the Los Angeles District. Her most significant accomplishment to date stems from her pioneering leadership of project delivery teams in the modernization of the electrical systems at the Brea, Hansen, Sepulveda, and Whittier Narrows dams. Her efforts will immensely improve the resiliency and operability of the four dams through the replacement and enhancement of electrical systems that are over 50 years old, making a vital contribution to the rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure.
Ms. Gonzalez’ role encompasses civil engineering duties for a wide range of projects associated with everything from the development of regional and local flood control, to general water supply, to environmental restoration and enhancement. She also has quite an impact on recreational areas. She brings her diverse skillset to multiple complex projects with budgets of up to $2 million, and she masterfully shepherds them from design through to contract construction awards on time and on budget.
Ms. Gonzalez grew up in Illinois as a daughter of Mexican immigrant parents who never had the opportunity to even attend high school. Their emphasis on hard work, perseverance, and education inspired her to pursue a career in STEM. She attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she became involved in the local chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and served the organization in multiple leadership roles, including secretary, treasurer, and academic advisor. She was cited with an Excellence in Research Award before she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering.
Upon graduation, Ms. Gonzalez took a job as a civil engineer at the Illinois Department of Transportation before earning her Master’s degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of South Florida. While at USF, she was named a National Science Foundation STEM Scholar, and co-authored her first published scientific paper while performing research for UNESCO-IHE Delft Institute for Water Education.
Before joining the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Ms. Gonzalez worked as an Environmental Engineer for the EPA, and as an Engineering instructor for the non-profit Project SYNCERE where she was named Instructor of the Year.