Helping to oversee the fourth largest state-owned road system in the country is no small task for Casey Lucas. She’s spent her post-graduate career doing everything from designing roadways to managing multi-million-dollar projects. But, it’s the impact she’s had on the lives of young engineers that’s helped her leave a lasting legacy in the Palmetto State.
Lucas graduated from the College of Engineering and Computing with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 2010. She immediately went to work for the South Carolina Department of Transportation as a roadway design engineer before moving to assistant program manager and now program manager. Lucas says her career with the SCDOT started even before graduation.
“While there are lessons that will be learned in the workforce, the fundamentals taught at UofSC were necessary for me to be where I am today,” she said. “Attending school in Columbia also allowed me to be centered for ample internship opportunities, which I took advantage of at the SCDOT while going to school. There are numerous engineering firms and opportunities within walking distance to campus. As an engineer who spends a lot of time in the Upstate, I love for it to be known that I am a proud Gamecock!”
Her pride for her alma mater can be seen through the time Lucas volunteers with CEC students. In February 2020, she was instrumental in gathering a group of CEC alumni for a women’s luncheon on campus.
“Programs like the Women’s Power Luncheon would be nothing without our CEC alumni,” said Brian McCaster, Inclusive Programs Coordinator at the CEC. “We appreciate people like Casey who show up for our undergraduate students and help them find their place in engineering and computing.”
As a program manager, Lucas oversees projects from selection, through design and into construction in Greenville and Pickens counties. She’s currently working with others at the DoT to use smart infrastructure tools — like drones, 3D models and more — in a project to alleviate congestion along Woodruff Road in Greenville.
Lucas says that for a heavily congested corridor like the one on Woodruff Road, having integrated signal timing can have a large impact. The signals, incorporated as part of the new interchange project, track real-time congestion to modify signal timing to better serve local commuters.
“As a part of my congestion relief project, smart infrastructure is being incorporated in a different way by focusing on the use and need of the alternative route,” said Lucas. “The proposed design incorporates multi-use paths and sidewalks for bicyclists and pedestrians, as well as the potential to accommodate future public transit opportunities once constructed. They’re design features that can enhance the livability and quality of life for the community.”
That dedication to making her community better doesn’t just stop with her job. Lucas was named the Preconstruction Employee of the Year by the SCDOT in 2019 for the impact she’s had on people’s lives.
“While my professional qualifications were cited in my nomination, I am most proud of being recognized as a culture changer,” said Lucas. “This was for my efforts to connect young engineers at UofSC with SCDOT career opportunities and my care for women in the workplace.”
As she works to connect students to the possibilities at the DOT and beyond, Lucas has advice for CEC students preparing to graduate.
“First, congratulations,” she said. “What a huge accomplishment and milestone you are about to conquer! Second, take the EIT and PE exam ASAP. Don’t put it off. It’s the final step, and you’ve got this!”