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Caterpillar Celebrates Women in Construction with Operator Skills Tests, Peer Networking, Industry Updates

Winners of the operator skills tests included, from left to right: Azaria Biven, Kait Burds, and Mackenzie Tackett.
Winners of the operator skills tests included, from left to right: Azaria Biven, Kait Burds, and Mackenzie Tackett.
CLAYTON, NC — Dubuque, Iowa’s Kait Burds took home top honors at Caterpillar’s first Women in Construction Celebration in Clayton, North Carolina. Burds successfully demonstrated her advanced machine operator skills by maneuvering difficult work site challenges in record time with extreme precision.

Burds was one of 18 women — representing Cat dealers throughout the Americas — who gathered at Caterpillar’s Edward J. Rapp Customer & Training Center to compete in the skills tests, learn about the latest industry trends, and network with peers.

“I feel really good; the competition was pretty stiff. It’s good affirmation of the hard work I put into my career,” Burds said. “I hope this event gives women in construction more exposure and gives them the confidence to go out and do things that scare them.”

The skills tests included expertise in the following areas:

  • Small Wheel Loader: Move material through the course to achieve 7.0 to 7.5 tons, then change to forks and use them to move a pallet
  • Compact Track Loader: Navigate an obstacle course using multiple machine functions
  • Small Hydraulic Excavator: Load truck to achieve 10.0-ton payload

Along with the tests, the competitors participated in a panel discussion where they shared best practices, discussed managing a successful career in a male-dominated industry, and talked about the importance of recruiting more female operators and technicians into the workforce.

“The event is a celebration of female machine operators who build our world, advocate and drive awareness for their trade, and highlight solutions that address job site needs,” Caterpillar Marketing Manager Chrissy Metz said. “Each competitor demonstrates advanced abilities operating the latest Cat construction machines and technologies, showing the world the invaluable role women play in the construction industry.”

Air Force fighter pilot, retired Lieutenant Colonel Tammy Barlette, delivered a keynote speech during the opening lunch, where she shared lessons learned from her years in the cockpit that she now applies to everyday life.

The event concluded with an awards ceremony where the overall skills test winner and others were recognized:

  • Overall Skills Test: Kait Burds, Dubuque, Iowa
  • Small Wheel Loader Skills Test: Kait Burds, Dubuque, Iowa
  • Compact Track Loader Skills Test: Mackenzie Tackett, Ray, Ohio
  • Small Hydraulic Excavator Skills Test: Azaria Biven, Indianapolis, Indiana

The list of participants in Caterpillar’s first Women in Construction Celebration and their supporting Cat dealer is below:

  • Kait Burds, Ziegler Cat
  • Daiane da Silva Candido, Sotreq
  • Jordyn Ledford, Stowers Cat
  • Shayla Sublette, Warren Cat
  • Azaria Biven, MacAllister Machinery
  • Ana Gonzales, Thompson Machinery
  • Misheala Brozovich, Wagner Cat
  • Amanda Miles, Gregory Poole
  • Rondalee Wilke, Ring Power
  • Letti Ortiz, Holt Cat
  • Miranda Menchaca, Holt Cat
  • Mackenzie Tackett, Ohio Cat
  • Chelsey Holdosi, Carter Machinery
  • Rachel Riggs, Empire Cat
  • Megan Riley, Empire Cat
  • Alexandra Smith, Milton Cat
  • Whitney Poulin, Milton Cat
  • Carla Vitoria de Araujo Marques, Sotreq
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