WILMINGTON – When Karen Collette retires this month from the N.C. Department of Transportation, it will mark the end of a milestone career for the agency’s first and, so far, only female division engineer.
But Collette says she’s prouder of the work to improve North Carolina’s transportation network than she is of serving as a role model for the next generation of female transportation engineers.
Still, Collette will leave behind a remarkable career that began with NCDOT in June 1990 when she started with the department’s Highway Engineering Associates Program. For more than two decades, she worked in maintenance and construction roles, including assistant district engineer, county maintenance engineer, district engineer and resident engineer.
In 2012, Collette was able to move back to her hometown after being appointed as the Wilmington area’s division engineer.
She led a team that completed numerous transportation projects vital to the Wilmington area, including the completion of Interstate 140, the Brunswick County Causeway and the Surf City Bridge.
“Karen is a fine engineer and a significant role model in the history of our department,” said NCDOT Secretary Jim Trogdon. “She continues to be instrumental in the advancement of female engineers by mentoring those around her. She has made an enormous impact at NCDOT that will live on for years to come.”
Chad Kimes to become the new Division 3 Engineer
Trogdon and Collette are pleased to announce that Chad Kimes, the division’s current deputy engineer, has been appointed as the new Division 3 engineer starting Nov. 2.
Kimes began working at NCDOT in 1989 while attending the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He became a full-time employee in 1994. He has held various positions since then. Including his current role as deputy division engineer, Kimes has also served as project engineer, county maintenance engineer, district engineer, resident engineer, division operation engineer, and division construction engineer.
The Division 3 Engineer manages planning, project development, maintenance activities, and construction projects in Brunswick, Duplin, New Hanover, Onslow, Pender and Sampson counties.
“I am grateful to continue my career at NCDOT and hope to make needed improvements to the transportation system in our region,” Kimes said.