Shari Bryant is one of Todd & Sargent’s drafters based in the Ames office. As a drafter, she creates structural and spouting drawings and has the opportunity to work on the slips as an inspector to ensure the rebar is placed correctly and the concrete is curing as expected. Read on to learn about her path into construction:
How and when did you decide to go into construction?
I had been with the same valve company working in a variety of roles for about 15 years and wanted to get into something completely different. Not only did T&S give me an opportunity to learn a new discipline in the construction industry, but I also love that what we do is so connected to agriculture.
What did your path into construction look like?
I have an applied associated degree in mechanical design from Marshalltown Community College. My dad suggested I look into drafting since the company he worked for was looking for more drafters, so I took an intro class at MCC and it just clicked. I started as a drafting co-op with a valve company at the end of the semester, then moved to tech support and teaching of the CAD software. My last couple of years with that company, I was a designer for HIPPS (High Integrity Pressure Protection System used in oil and gas facilities) then to specials, which are customized parts per customer requirements. I then came to Todd & Sargent after 15 years of being a mechanical drafter.
Both my dad and granddad worked at Fisher as machinists, so I became 3rd generation along with my sister who is a civil engineer. It just runs in the family.
What do you enjoy most about your job/working in construction?
As a drafter, it is so fun to watch the drawings you created come to life, whether you’re witnessing it firsthand on a slip or just seeing update photos.
What do you think are some hurdles – real or perceived – that women face in construction?
Some women may assume that they won’t be accepted. Honestly, as long as you work hard and keep trying to improve, no one cares what gender you are.
As for being a woman in a male-dominated field, that’s something I’ve always done. I was on football and wrestling teams as a kid, joined the Air Force, and worked security on and off until I started college. One thing I’ve noticed is that the guys I’ve worked with or trained with didn’t just tolerate me, they actively had my back.
What is your favorite thing you’ve done during your time in construction?
I love doing inspection on slips. It is one thing to have an idea, but seeing how the structures are actually built is essential. It lets you see what works and what it takes the crews to put it all together.