, Muskogee, OK

Local News

November 4, 2012

Road designer on new path

Civil engineer turns to volunteering at school


Meet Gaila Hiebert Martin

AGE: 40.

HOMETOWN: Webbers Falls.

CAREER: Retired engineer.

EDUCATION: Webbers Falls High School, 1989; Bachelor of Science in civil engineering, Oklahoma State University, 1994.

FAMILY: Husband, Rick; three sons, Brenden, Trenten and Landren, and a grown stepdaughter, Andrea Martin.

CHURCH: First Baptist Church.

HOBBIES: “I have such a basket full, you wouldn’t be able to write it all down. Painting, poetry, writing. Sometimes I take a hobby, work on it until I burn out.”


near home

Gaila Hiebert Martin said her father worked in construction, living in 17 states before settling in Webbers Falls.

“He was working on the McClellan-Kerr Navigation System when he saw the falls and loved them,” she recalled. “His second job in this area was the Muskogee Turnpike. He decided to start his own business here. Mom said she was glad because she could stay at a place where she could watch the bulbs she planted in fall come up in the spring.”

Martin said her father’s expertise was in heavy construction. She said he built container ponds for a Kerr-McGee plant near Gore.

“He and my brother are now working on the five-year decommissioning of the plant,” she said.

She said her father has not been too skilled at computers.

“But he has an amazing head for estimation; he’s very good at quickly estimating distance,” she said.

When her father said something was 47 inches, that’s about what it was.

She said she developed the knack for estimating over the years.

“If I go to a site, I pretty much know a distance,” she said. “But when you’re 20 years old, you just don’t know.”

Growing into  


Martin recalled being “pretty much committed to becoming an engineer” by the time she got to high school.

She said she always enjoyed building things, “and you get to do that in civil engineering.”

Engineering was a growing field for women by 1989, when Martin started at Oklahoma State University. However, she said, most women were not attracted to the same type of engineering that interested her. She said there were plenty of women in her general engineering classes during her first two years in college. Most were interested in becoming petroleum engineers.

“During my last two years in school, there were three girls and 40 guys in each class,” she said. “I’ll estimate at 40 guys, but remembering three girls is pretty solid because they were always the same three girls.”

She said she hasn’t been to an engineering class in the past few years,

Martin said she was fortunate to get a job straight out of college that was close to home. She said Holloway, Updike & Bellen had worked with her father.

“They had good, clean plans you could work from,” she said. “It’s a company with a good attention to detail.”

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