Few kids really know what career path they want to pursue before entering high school. When asked, many will say that they want to be a firefighter, doctor, nurse or professional athlete.
For Victoria Ballestero ’14, MBA’18, a double graduate from Clarkson University, civil engineering has always been part of her career plan.
âI tell people I’m a freak of nature because I knew from the age of 12 that I wanted to be a civil engineer,â Ballestero says.
Hailing from Ballston Spa, New York, Ballestero’s meteoric rise in the civil engineering and design industry was cemented when she was recognized as one of five recipients of the National Young Professional of the Year award. from the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC). She was also recognized as ACEC’s 2021 Young Professional of the Year in Metro Washington. Ballestero received prior recognition as the Maryland Building Industry Association Rising Star Award in 2019 and was named Outstanding Young Engineer of the Year in Maryland in 2018.
The ACEC National Award recognizes professionals under the age of 35 who have contributed to the engineering industry and made an impact on society.
“I was a little emotional,” admits Ballestero of his response to the phone call informing him of the price. âIt is truly an honor to be recognized. The work that land use engineers do is truly underestimated, so receiving national recognition for my efforts is deeply rewarding.
âBeing a young woman and getting that recognition is also very important. Much of this industry does not represent the diverse population right now, so this is something I was aware of as I was building my team. We have a diverse group and I couldn’t have done it without them.
Ballestero credits being around his family’s business, an on-site civil construction company in Saratoga Springs, New York, to influencing his early desire to become a civil engineer. She describes her father, Antonio Ballestero, as an industrious, enterprising, self-taught second-generation construction superintendent who would bring in the house site plans and annotate them with a red Sharpie. âHe instilled in me the importance of constructability in design. This influenced my desire to design practical and logical projects on paper.
After obtaining his Bachelor of Civil Engineering from Clarkson, Ballestero joined DS Thaler & Assoc. in Baltimore as a design engineer, where she learned the basics of land use planning, zoning, land use and rights engineering. She then accepted a position as a Project Engineer at AECOM in 2016. Ballestero was hired by ATCS, PLC in Largo, Md., In 2018 to launch the company’s office in Prince George County, Md., Where she leads a team of professional engineers, planners and land surveyors to deliver innovative solutions to the residential, commercial, mixed-use, institutional and industrial sectors. She is a mentor to junior staff across the organization and a corporate champion for continuing education, professional development, women in leadership, and diversity, equity and inclusion programs.
The civil engineering experience of the Ballestero site in the DC metro area includes pioneering the design of borderless streets in The Yards West, near Nationals Park, a multitude of residential developments, a veterans housing project and a range of mixed-use developments, among others.
âClarkson prepared me exceptionally well for starting a career in civil engineering,â says Ballestero. âBut in this industry there are some things that just cannot be learned in a classroom. You cannot imagine some of the challenges you will face until you have actually experienced them. There is a lot of on-the-job training. “
In addition to her professional accomplishments, Ballestero is President of the Maryland Society of Professional Engineers and Vice President of Associates on the Executive Committee of the Maryland Building Industry Association. She is a member of the board of directors of the Foundation for Applied Construction Technology for Students and a member of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Advisory Council at Clarkson.
Passion is a word that Ballestero uses frequently but does not take lightly. She founded a scholarship at her alma mater high school for students with a passion for volunteering, something she has immersed herself in throughout her life. âI firmly believe in making frequent deposits into the Cosmic Karma Bank. It is important to give back without expecting anything in return, âsays Ballestero. Of his volunteer time with Clarkson, Ballestero said, âIt is imperative that those who have had the opportunity to turn back the clock with a helping hand to support the communities that have enabled them to thrive. “
Outside of her professional commitments, Ballestero is married and has run nine marathons, including the Boston Marathon. She is a triathlete, a rock and ice climber, a backpacker and a great traveler.
With so many recognized accomplishments to its credit, Ballestero continues to focus on site civil engineering projects that will impact underserved people. âAlthough ATCS is a multidisciplinary engineering consulting firm, my main interests are in solving complex land use planning issues in order to improve the community,â Ballestero says. âChanging the landscape of my community and mentoring the next generation of engineers is what gets me out of bed every morning. “