Sami Wallace ’15 comes from a long line of MSOE graduates.
“My father and grandfather both attended MSOE,” said Wallace. “We visited MSOE during St. Patrick’s week my senior year of high school and I knew I would be right at home in Milwaukee.”
Wallace, an assistant superintendent at Clark Construction Group, found her niche in construction when she was in high school.
“I have been volunteering with Habitat for Humanity since high school and knew I wanted to do something construction related for my career,” said Wallace.
While at MSOE, Wallace continued to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and was able to go on three different service trips with the organization. She also was a member of the Lambda Zeta Nu (LZN) sorority, stunt team, Mechanical Contracting Association of American (MCAA) competition team, and the American Institute of Constructors. Wallace’s involvement in campus groups provided her with memorable experiences, valuable lessons and lifelong friendships.
“Being a member of LZN was a huge part of my college experience and I loved being a part of a group of driven, kind and intelligent women.”
When Wallace first started working in the construction industry, she was the only female on the jobsite. However, this is no longer the case.
“There are more and more women coming into this industry, and I am thrilled. My advice to the women just starting out in this industry is to be willing to learn from everyone on the jobsite. Don’t fixate on being a woman—power through and show them that you’re a hard worker and a fast learner.”
Today Wallace serves as an assistant superintendent on the renovation of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. On this large project, she works on managing half of the gallery spaces and is responsible for coordinating with subcontractors to ensure what they build meets the project’s plans and specifications. Additionally, she ensures the work is completed safely and in a timely matter. MSOE equipped her with the skills and knowledge she needed to take on large projects in her career.
“Working so hard at MSOE prepared me for the workload I have now. Additionally, my classes in BIM, estimating, and scheduling directly relate to my day-to-day tasks, so I was able to jump right in when I started my full-time job.”
Although she lives in Alexandria, Virginia, Wallace stays connected to MSOE through the Alumni Association. As the alumni chair for Washington, D.C., she organizes fun events for MSOE alumni in the area. Since she has the inside scoop, they often tour different construction sites or attend a Brewers game when they play in D.C.
“As someone with deep family ties to MSOE, I can’t imagine it not being a part of my life. I am so glad I get to catch up with friends from school and make new ones via alumni events. It also provides good networking opportunities, which is pivotal to life in D.C.”
Wallace and her husband Josh Ruehlow ’14 enjoy exploring new breweries in D.C. and Virginia with their dog Pippa. They also enjoy traveling and try to visit Milwaukee at least once a year.
For current students, Wallace reminds them of the value of an MSOE degree. “MSOE takes hard work, but the investment is worth it. Make the most of your MSOE experience and you will stand out among your peers in the “real world” after college. Keep at it and make sure to take time to rest and have fun.”
Photo courtesy of Clark Construction.