Masters Profile: Elizabeth Neely
Current Job Title: Consultant, Advisory Services Sector, WSP
Undergraduate Degree: Mathematical Sciences and Art, Colby College
CEE Master’s Program Path: Master of Engineering (MEng) – Civil Engineering, 2015
Tell us about your job!
I work at WSP as a consultant in our Advisory Services Sector, which provides high-level strategic services for our clients, who are primarily public transportation agencies. Ultimately, we help our clients procure, develop, manage, finance and invest in their programs and projects. For me, I am on the finance side—I help transit agencies (heavy rail, light rail, bus rapid transit, and ferry systems) find ways to pay for their projects, and map their financial plans for them.
What’s your favorite thing about your job?
It's always changing. I'm always working on different projects at the same time, so it allows for a lot of variety, which I love. I also have evolved since starting in my group, and can work on different modes and different projects than originally assigned (like freight projects in the Midwest, which is completely different than my original projects for light rail on the East Coast).
Why did you choose Duke for your master’s degree?
I chose Duke for a number of reasons: 1) I needed a program that was more theoretical because I had not received an undergraduate degree in engineering, and knew that if was more theoretical, I could keep up with my math background; 2) I spoke to a variety of professors at different schools to better understand the curriculum, and felt Duke’s was the best fit for me; 3) I spoke to the company I was targeting after my graduate degree (actually, where I currently work), and asked their opinion; 4) My sister was getting her MBA at Fuqua, so having family close was appealing, and; 5) I'd always wanted to go to Duke—it had been a lifelong dream.
How did Duke help prepare you for your current job?
Duke was a great place for me to start my learning process with engineering. Primarily, my adviser (Henri Gavin) was my biggest resource. He knew my goals and made sure that I stayed on a path that made the most sense—which included taking classes outside of Pratt. I found it really helpful that he encouraged that and supported that.
What advice would you give a master’s student just starting at Duke?
Map out your path before you arrive at Duke. After you have been admitted, map out various paths that would work for you and that could help you choose classes, professors, extracurricular activities, internships, full-time jobs, etc.