has been said of Willa Wilcox Mylroie that she is a professional who
always more than gets the job done.
throughout her career and personal life she has demonstrated a zealous
commitment to her community and profession by contributing to an
extensive and diverse list of organizations. Among the groups that have benefited from Willa’s participation
and leadership are the Boys and Girls Scouts, parents-teachers
associations, Thurston County, Washington, the Transportation Research
Board, American Association of State Highway and Transportation
Officials, American Society of Civil Engineers, the Planning Association
of Washington, and ITE.
ITE, Willa distinguished herself as the first woman to be elected
president of District 6, the first woman to become an international
director, and the first to run for international vice president.
Her platform included "encouraging participation of the
membership in public and professional activities to assist the
decision-making process through the support of a well-informed
it is not surprising, as noted by Wolfgang S. Homburger, former District
6 international director, "that most professionals with whom she
worked never thought of Willa first as a 'woman in engineering'."
Though she she started her career at a time when there were few
women in engineering, she quickly was accepted as an equal and became
regarded as an excellent and dependable professional.
She continually searched for innovative means to improve results.
Her unassuming professionalism also proceeded her, as she was
known to approach every task quietly and efficiently, but always with
graduating in 1940 from the University of Washington, Willa began her
illustrious transportation planning career as a "stenographer and
junior engineer" with the Washington State Department of Highways.
During the following 18 years, she dedicated herself to
engineering education, both as an instructor and as a student. As an engineer for the Army in the early '40s, she taught
drafting classes for women. She
then went back to the University of Washington and completed her
master's degree in 1951. In
time, she would become an assistant professor at the University of
Washington and an associate professor at Purdue University, during which
time she also was the supervising engineer on a research project for the
Bureau of Public Roads in Washington, D.C. She returned to the
Washington State Department of Highways in 1958 as a research and
special assignments engineer. In
1969 she was appointed head of the Washington State Department of
Transportation's Research and Special Assignments Division.
has authored or co-authored many articles and reports, for such media as
the Highway Research Bulletin
and Washington State Highway News,
among others. Willa also is
listed in many distinguished directories, as well, including
"American Men and Women of Science," "Who's Who of
American Women," "Who's Who in Engineering," and, in
Great Britain, the "Dictionary of International Biography."
honors include the Professional Recognition Award from the American
Society of Civil Engineers (1978), Order of the Engineer (1976), and an
Appreciation Award from the Planning Association of Washington (1974).
could not have had a more distinguished association with ITE.
She joined the Washington Area (now Section) in 1959, and helped
organize the award-winning WesternITE Journal. The
following year she became area co-chairperson.
At the Western Section level (now District 6), she quickly rose
through the ranks, holding every office including section president in
the national level, beginning in 1961, Willa served on many committees
that have shaped ITE, including Resolutions (1970),
Constitution and Bylaws (1971 and 1977–78, for which she served as
chairperson), and Institute Name Change (1972–74, for which she also
1972, she chaired the ITE New Constitution Implementation Committee.
was elected to the International Board of Direction for 1973–75. The
Institute subsequently honored Willa in 1979 by awarding her the
Certificate of Appreciation in Recognition of Outstanding Service.
her retirement from the Washington State Department of Transportation,
Willa and her husband Don Fassett have enjoyed a more leisurely
lifestyle that includes sailing in Puget Sound.