University of Minnesota Duluth senior Bella Larson has been awarded the Roberta Dwyer Civil Engineering Scholarship, which honors the legacy of one of Minnesota’s first female civil engineers.
Larson, a Duluth native who hopes to pursue a career in transportation engineering after graduation, is the second student to receive this prestigious award.
“I’m very honored to have been selected for this scholarship and grateful to the donors who made the award possible,” Larson said. The scholarship will help cover the cost of tuition and books for her final year at UMD.
A civil engineering major, Larson joined LHB as an intern last May, based in the firm’s Duluth office. “Right away, I got a glimpse of real-world problems that engineers must solve,” she said. “What excites me the most about engineering is the opportunity to use my creative abilities and problem-solving skills every day.”
Respected & revered
Scholarship namesake Roberta Dwyer was similarly passionate about the challenges that came with complicated engineering projects. After graduating from the University of Minnesota in 1982, she was one of the first female engineers hired by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, where she worked for nearly four decades. She oversaw some of the most complex projects in MnDOT’s District 1 Duluth office and worked on such large-scale projects as the final extension of Interstate 35 through Duluth (1992), the I-35 Mega Project (2010-12), Piedmont Avenue reconstruction (2004), and the U.S. Highway 53 bridge relocation in Virginia (2015-17).
“Roberta had a vast knowledge of engineering and was very respected across the Northland community,” LHB COO Joe Litman said. “She mentored many young engineers and strove to empower women through her involvement in the American Association of University Women and other organizations that support equity for women. She understood firsthand the challenges that female engineers can face in the industry.”
Supporting diversity in engineering
Dwyer died of cancer in 2020, just a week after retiring from MnDOT. Shortly after her passing, LHB established an endowed scholarship in her honor at UMD, with a $25,000 gift. Additional contributions from LHB and other firms and donors have grown the fund to nearly $70,000. Proceeds from the endowment will fund scholarships for two civil engineering students each year, with a preference for female students and/or students who enhance the diversity of the student body.
“We’re delighted to honor Roberta Dwyer’s legacy with this scholarship,” LHB CEO Rick Carter said. “We hope this gift signals our own support for increased diversity in engineering, and that other firms and individuals will join us in this cause.”
Want to support diversity in civil engineering?
Click here to contribute to the Roberta Dwyer Civil Engineering Scholarship.