Mulkey speaks at McKimmon Center

October 23, 2003

Oct. 15, 2003
Technician
By Kenneth Ball, staff writer
Copyright 2003 Technician.

"I didn't start my business to get rich," Barbara Mulkey said of her 10 years as an entrepreneur.

Whatever her motivations may have been, 10 years ago, Mulkey, an N.C. State alumnus and resident of Cary , founded what is now one of the fastest growing engineering consulting firms in the Southeast. Mulkey, president and CEO of Mulkey Engineers & Consultants, spoke at the McKimmon Center Tuesday afternoon. In her talk, "Barbara Mulkey: From Kitchen Table Leadership to Boardroom Success," she spoke on her experiences as an entrepreneur and an engineer.

Mulkey graduated from NCSU in 1977 with a degree in civil engineering, and received her master's degree in the same field in 1984. After holding various positions in the public and private sector, Mulkey founded her firm in 1993.

Her firm is involved in numerous high profile engineering projects in the area, including the Progress Energy project in Raleigh, the I-77/Tyvola Interchange and the Fayetteville Street Renaissance. Mulkey Engineers & Consultants has also worked on the Arther Ravenel, Jr. Bridge in Charleston .

"I think it's really cool that she's in a male-dominated field," said Anna Cook, a master's student in civil engineering, who describes Mulkey as one of her role models.

As one of few women in the civil engineering field, Mulkey overcame many obstacles during her career. However, she said she was able to balance the personal and entrepreneurial parts of her life to overcome adversity and become a very successful businesswoman.

Mulkey's talk was fifth in a series of lectures developed by the Office of Public Affairs and co-sponsored by the Engineering Entrepreneurs Program (EEP). Tom Miller, vice provost for distance education and learning technology applications and professor of electrical and computer engineering, opened the program Tuesday afternoon. Miller, founder and director of the EEP, started the Entrepreneur's Lecture Series as a result of his close involvement with NCSU graduates who succeeded in the business world as well as in their studies.

"These students were in many ways succeeding in spite of their education," Miller said, regarding some of the alumni that were invited to speak in the past.

Miller doesn't mean to downplay the value of the excellent technical education NCSU provides its students. Rather, he recognizes the importance of entrepreneurial skill in today's competitive marketplace.

"I can't teach anyone to be an entrepreneur, but if I can help unlock that tendency and help them understand their own potential then I think I've done my job," Miller said.

"I think this is one of those things they have at State that you might not always find out about, but you hear about it and say 'Oh, I think I'll go to that,'" said Gabrielle Serang, who attended an Entrepreneur's Lecture for the first time yesterday.

"It gets you away from sitting in the classroom," Branch Smith, a graduate student in civil enginneering, said.