Earlier this year, PennTerra Engineering welcomed a new team member to the Environmental Department: Margaret Franson.
“Our Environmental Department has almost doubled this year,” noted John Sepp, P.E., President of PennTerra. “With Margaret’s interest in stormwater, we have plenty of projects for her to put her skills to work.”
Franson is excited to join the team; she knows what direction she wants to point herself and the water that is in her charge.
“I want to design things – the stormwater aspects,” Franson said. “To help reduce flooding and get water where it should go.”
After graduating from Bellefonte Area High School, Franson went on to earn a degree in Civil Engineering from Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport. A graduate of the class of 2021, she initially accepted a design position with Harris Smariga & Associates in Frederick, Maryland, but has now found her way home again.
Franson’s exposure to the world of engineering began many years earlier, right here in Centre County.
“I became interested in (civil engineering) because of my dad,” credited Franson. “I’d help him survey when I was younger. Just looking at the plans and seeing the construction was fun to watch. I was the instrument woman. He’d be out with the prism pole, picking what shots he needed. I’d enter them into the total station.” Afterwards, the pair would return home, export the data points, and create basemaps. From the survey field, Franson went on to help her father in additional capacities.
“I would do inspections,” she recalled. “Making sure the pipe was placed correctly, checking its cover (the dirt on top) and slope. I would inspect paving depths, measuring the thickness of each course, and checking that the right types of curbs were installed, per the plans.”
Unbeknownst to her at the time, Franson was already visiting PennTerra project sites around Centre County.
“As part of a class, I actually toured The Rise when I was at Penn College,” Franson recalled. “It was a completely different engineering project for State College.”
The mixed-use high rises in downtown State College were part of what attracted Franson to PennTerra.
“I liked the projects and the team aspect,” she said.
With a few months under her belt, Franson has found her groove with her new team members.
“I like it a lot,” Franson smiled. “There are abundant opportunities for training. And it’s nice being at a company with other females. It’s empowering.”
Franson and her fellow employee-owners go to lunch and networking events together, as well as play on the PennTerra softball team.
“It’s a fun activity to do after work,” Franson stated. “We get out of the office and spend time together.”
On her morning commute or on her way to the softball field in the afternoon, she is now looking at the passing scenery with a keener appreciation.
“It’s exciting to know that whenever I drive by these things, I designed that basin,” acknowledged Franson. “It’s just fun to track projects and see it go from an idea to actual real life.”
Now, Franson can begin passing her engineering knowledge to the next generation.
“William is nine months old,” said the new mom. “This time next year, I hope to be married (to fiancé, Nick Roche) with my EIT (Engineering In Training certification).”
While William is celebrating his first Independence Day, his mom might be grilling up her famous bacon and cheese smashburgers or taking the family on a hike through Spring Creek Canyon.