Deborah Ayars ’74, First Female County Engineer in the Nation

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Deborah was a woman driven to succeed. Her childhood love of math and science led her to Florida Tech where she put her passions to good use. It wasn’t until her second year that she realized her interest in engineering. She earned her bachelor of science in ocean engineering in 1974. After graduation, Deb returned home to New Jersey and landed her first job as a civil engineer. From there, her career only blossomed.

Deb served as assistant city engineer for the City of Vineland and county engineer for Cumberland County. Not only was Deb the first female county engineer in New Jersey, she was the first in the nation and held her role in New Jersey for nearly twenty-five years. Her career was notable not only for this distinction but also for the impact she had in the engineering field. Her legacy in engineering includes establishing her own firm, A-TECH Engineering, which served to mentor young engineers; inventing a model design for a local recycling center; reconstructing the main runway at the Atlantic City Airport; and working on traffic data collection important to cities across New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

“Pride in engineering comes when the designs you put on paper are built and used by people,” she explained. Deb served as the primary author for the Technology Transfer grant, developed in conjunction with Rutgers University, which stands as the certification program for public works supervisors in the state of New Jersey.

Deb also worked on high-profile projects like the Ben Franklin and Walt Whitman bridges (where she is standing in the foreground), the New Jersey Turnpike, Atlantic City Expressway E-Z Pass, and the new World Trade Center site in New York City.

In 2016, she was inducted into the Cumberland County New Jersey Women’s Hall of Fame.

Deb and her husband, Steve, are now retired, enjoying life in Hawaii with one of their three daughters and two of their six grandchildren.

Ayars was featured in Florida Tech’s 60th Anniversary special edition book, “60 for 60: Celebrating Sixty Years of Alumni at Florida Institute of Technology.” Copies are available for purchase here.

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