Daughter carries on legacy as McBride Engineering marks 50 years

  Mary McBride, president of McBride Engineering in
  Homewood. The firm is celebrating its 50th year.

  (Photo by Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)
 
Mary McBride is happy to carry on her father’s work as president of McBride Engineering Inc. in Homewood. The firm marks its 50th year in business this year.
 
Joseph McBride had worked as a consultant and then for the Cook County Forest Preserves when he decided to start the civil engineering and surveyor business in 1968. 
 
Each of his eight children worked in the business doing odd jobs from the office on 183rd Street. One of Mary’s tasks was running the blueprints machine.
 
After she graduated from Homewood-Flossmoor High School, McBride went to the University of Notre Dame thinking she’d train to be a math teacher.
 
“I was always interested in math. I worked hard at it,” she recalled. “My father helped me. He would gladly do homework with me or answer questions, so when I got to college I was doing very well in my math classes.”
 
A counselor suggested she switch her major because of her background. When she told her dad she was going into civil engineering “he was glad that I finally woke up,” she says with a smile.
 
McBride was one of only six women in her class of 60 engineering majors.  Even after she’d graduated it wasn’t easy.

“In the early days, if I was at the table with developers that didn’t know me I was mistaken as the secretary,” she said. 
 
McBride married, started a family and moved to Maryland. She got a stipend from the University of Maryland that helped her cover the cost of a master’s degree in civil engineering. Her thesis was on water resources with an emphasis on managing storm water.

When she graduated, few jobs were open to her. She accepted a position with a consultant that was helping plan the Washington, D.C. area Metro.
 
“The actual design and construction was expensive because of all the things that were in the way,” she remembers.  She worked on the project as a utilities engineer.
 
In 1992, she and her husband and their four children moved back to Illinois and McBride joined the business that had relocated to Hazel Crest and served as the village’s engineering firm for more than 25 years.
 
McBride Engineering relocated back to Homewood in 2017. Its work includes residential, commercial and industrial projects, whether that is getting a plat of survey ready for a property sale or designing plans for adding on to a house or business and everything in between.  The firm will help with the permits for construction, plans for project bids, mapping entitlements and understanding the property title and boundaries and easements. 
 
“You need permitting from different agencies, and meeting code and then construction layout, budget to construction and record drawings,” McBride explained.
 
Joseph McBride died in 2013, but chances are he’d be proud of what his daughter has been doing with the business. 
 
“We’ve done small individual projects to big things for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District on the Thornton Quarry water detention project” that went on for a couple of years. Overall, the firm’s work is “a great variety of projects with interesting pieces,” she said.
 
The firm has 12 employees and has hired H-F High senior Mark Oliver as a part-time staffer to help the firm convert its paper files for a paperless office. 
 
“We also have offered him insights into the world of work and what engineers do,” McBride said, noting Oliver is thinking about an engineering career. He has been in H-F's Project Lead the Way program for three years taking engineering and architecture classes. PLW is a national program meant to increase interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The H-F curriculum covers civil engineering, digital electronics and architecture.
 
Most recently McBride Engineering was the engineer for The Clubhouse built at 183rd and Governors Highway by the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District and it handled the conversion of the Bank of Homewood into LaBanque, downtown Homewood’s boutique hotel. 
 
It worked on Butterfield Point, did subdivision work for Heather Hill 5th and 7th additions in Flossmoor and helped alleviate flood plain issues at the H-F Ice Arena.
 

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