“Get back in the kitchen.”
Taunts from boys wouldn’t phase Lea Gamble when she walked into her high school engineering and construction classes. Two degrees and seven years in the construction field later, she’s living a full life and making her impact in local architecture equipped with tools she earned from Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne.
“In the beginning, it was definitely a struggle being a young girl in construction,” Gamble says. “A lot of women end up having to work a lot harder just to earn respect on the job site.”
Gamble started her career with a general contractor when she was just 20 years old. She says getting the respect she has now took time, but after several years in the local industry, she’s built a network and garnered a well-deserved reputation. Whatever pushback she’s seen in the past, she says she didn’t experience any of that during college.
“Everyone at Ivy Tech was very accepting.”
Ivy Tech introduced itself to Gamble through her high school classes. She says it attracted her because it offered everything she wanted to do and was close to home. It was after her experience meeting with a professor at Go Ivy Day that she decided to commit.
“I liked how a lot of it was hands-on learning and small class sizes. And all of the instructors had real-world experience. Many of them had second jobs, so they could actually teach us things that they have learned first-hand.”
She also values the connections she made with her classmates and professors, many of whom she still speaks to today. She says former Building Construction Management program chair Jim Brunson continued to be a mentor to her after graduation, and she’s still in contact with adjunct Design Technology instructor Richard Washburn.
With all the support in college, Gamble graduated with an associate’s degree from the Construction Management program in 2016. That’s when she went to work for a general contractor for four years before going back to finish out Ivy Tech’s Design Technology program. This allowed her to see the more technological side of the industry and led her to her current career with Moake Park Group.
“I still love the construction side of things, and that’s still very much a part of what I do, but I’m also able to bring the technology part that I love into the mix as well.”
Working as a BIM (Building Information Modeling) Technician, Gamble not only gets to create 3D models based on a building’s structure but also showcases how a space can be used. Her current work focuses on educational institutions with projects ranging from something small like planning a secure entry for an elementary school to building an entire new school.
In the future, she hopes to focus on more sustainable construction. Last year, she became an LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Associate which can help advance her career in the green building industry. Right now, she’s studying for the LEED AP BD+C— the next step in LEED credentialing— and hopes to take that exam this year.
In case you missed it, March 5-11 was Women in Construction Week. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up nearly 11% of the construction industry, and that number is growing. Gamble is passionate about the work she does and offers this advice to any woman seeking a similar path:
“Don’t let anybody stop you from doing what you want to do. Especially when you’re in high school, what somebody else says is not going to matter five, ten years from now.”