Mary Behrend Impact Award presented to Paula J. Dombrowski

Women's Engagement Council board members Melanie Ford and Priscilla Hamilton present the Mary Behrend Impact Award to Paula J. Dombrowski.

Women's Engagement Council board members Melanie Ford, left, and Priscilla Hamilton, right, present the Mary Behrend Impact Award to Paula J. Dombrowski, the Engineer of Record for the Burke Center at Penn State Behrend.

Credit: Penn State Behrend

ERIE, Pa. — Paula J. Dombrowski, a structural engineer and owner of Forensics Engineered in Cincinnati, Ohio, is the recipient of the second annual Mary Behrend Impact Award, presented by Penn State Behrend’s Women’s Engagement Council (WEC). 

The award was established to recognize individuals who have made contributions that advance the purpose of WEC, which was founded to support and lift women through programs related to women, to the college, and to the greater Erie community. Dombrowski was honored at a luncheon in late March in Behrend’s Lilley Library.

“Paula has left her fingerprints all over Behrend — literally,” said Priscilla Hamilton, a WEC board member who chaired the award committee.  “She was the Engineer of Record for the Burke Center, which houses our School of Engineering and our Black School of Business, and her Pennsylvania Professional Engineer’s stamp is on the plans.”

Following graduation from Penn State, where she studied at Behrend before earning a degree in architectural engineering at University Park, Dombrowski began her career in Erie at H.F. Graygo & Associates and Steele Structural Engineering. Over the next twenty years, as a structural engineer, she served as project manager and Engineer of Record for large building projects. More recently, she has focused her work on building forensics, assessing structural defects. She is the founder and principal/owner of Forensics Engineered, LLC, in Cincinnati.

Dombrowski returns to Behrend every year for the Women in Engineering program, where she shares her educational and professional journey with local high school and college students. 

“Paula’s amazing professional accomplishments and dedication to advancing and empowering women through her direct mentorship exemplifies the spirit of Mary Behrend,” Hamilton said.

“There are just not enough words to express my gratitude to WEC for their recognition of my efforts,” Dombrowski said “The Mary Behrend Impact Award is a genuine honor and boost to my soul.

“I enjoyed my time at Behrend, with much laughter during golf class and plenty of late-night study sessions to pass challenging classes like thermodynamics and statistics,” she said. “By chance, I was also able to tack on a finite elements class, which provided a great engineering analysis foundation that I use every day.”

Dombrowski and her husband, Dean, have two children — Kyle, 22, and Gillian Grace, 20 — and reside in Cincinnati. 


Heather Cass

Publications and design coordinator

Penn State Erie, The Behrend College

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