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Environmental Engineering Success Stories

About me:
Ruth Cathers
B.S. in Environmental Engineering (2016)
Wade Trim, Asheville, NC

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as an Environmental Engineer:
I am currently working on site development designs for Architects and Developers across the country. The projects range from site grading to utilities planning, and even stormwater runoff. My duties include AutoCAD drafting, technical calculations, and hydrologic/hydraulic modeling.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
Being a quick learner is absolutely essential to be successful in most consultant positions. In this field, there is a diverse range of software which is constantly changing. It is especially important to be able to self-teach to develop the knowledge and experience necessary to keep up with the advancing technology and standards. Additionally, a good attitude and strong soft skills are required to maintain pleasant client and sub-consultant relationships.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Environmental Engineering?
My advice to current students is to envision your future! Pick the brains of current environmental engineers, your professors, friends who have held internships, etc. to try and get a clear picture of what they actually do on a daily basis. If you feel connected to duties that water resources, remediation, and air quality engineers perform, then chances are that Environmental Engineering is for you.


About me:Patrick Goddard photo
Patrick Goddard
B.S. in Environmental Engineering (2016)
POWER Engineers, Inc., Cincinnati, OH

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as an Environmental Engineer:
My work covers a wide range of disciplines. I design industrial wastewater treatment systems, develop site plans for electrical substations, model stormwater runoff and sanitary flows, as well as provide permitting support for clients. I have also provided construction administration support to ensure that one of our system designs was installed according to plan.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
The most important skill for a engineer is to be able to adapt to different situations and problems that any given project presents. The client may have certain ideas which you need to be able to work with and incorporate into your design. Programs such as AutoCAD Civil 3D, ArcGIS, Storm and Sanitary Analysis help immensely in the design process and being able to navigate them efficiently is essential to my role. Skills such as effective communication, technical writing, and a quality assurance/quality control mindset are important to providing quality work to the client.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Environmental Engineering?
The most important piece of advice I could give to prospective environmental engineers would be to try out different areas of the field. For example, I interned in a consulting role and in a industrial permitting role before deciding that I preferred consulting and wanted to make a career in that field. There are also many different opportunities within the major through technical electives, trips to treatment plants and facilities, as well as job shadow opportunities that will help you determine which area of the field you enjoy the most.


About me:
Supreya Kesavan
B.S. in Environmental Engineering (2016)
Accenture, Boston, MA

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Technology Senior Analyst:
Currently, I work as a technology consultant at Accenture. Consulting can be such a vague term, and to be honest before I started my job I was not entirely sure what I would be doing! As it turns out, it is because you can play some many different roles within one job title, which is my favorite part of the field!
   
Most of the roles I have played have been as a business analyst which means I design user experiences for softwares. I have worked for a variety of environments from telecommunications to hospitals. We try to create designs that put humans at the center of the experience. I know it sounds like common sense, but it's actually a new wave of thought in software design! Therefore, I directly interface with clients of all levels from COO's to users in a call center to understand and create empathy for the users of the system. Then, I take the requirements collected as well as the pain points noticed and create a functional design for the software. I also get to work with UI/UX designers who create the visual and interaction design, and developers who eventually build out the vision. I am responsible for maintaining the requirements, creating the designs (with assistance from my team of course) as well as general project management of driving the completion of project adhering to timelines and budgets. Working at a company like Accenture who is thought leader in the future of technology, I have had the ability to work with all the buzzword items from blockchain to AI.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
There is no homogeneous set of skills that make you successful in consulting. I thoroughly believe that most consulting firms looks for people with diverse backgrounds and experiences who are willing and fast learners! Consulting is a face paced industry, so it is important to have the ability to manage time and keep organized; there is always so much happening at one time! Furthermore, effective verbal, written, and visual communication is essential. A client is entrusting us to carry out their vision, and think outside the box.

In addition, when I first started it was odd because I never report to one particular "boss". Your manager changes from project to project, which is uncomfortable at times, but really empowers you to own your career! Managing up is just as important as managing down in consulting. As a result, I think that willingness to take charge and accepting and learning from failure is incredibly key. I have been thrown into situations where I was unsure that I would be able to deliver, but because of being proactive and communicating to recieve help when needed, I was able to stay ahead of any potential risks. It's definitely a learning process to understand your limits of when to ask for help, though.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Environmental Engineering?
While I do not do traditional environmental engineering work, my advice to you is to keep an open mind! There are many paths to get to where you want to be, and do no be discouraged when you do not immediately reach it. As I started to learn at the end of my college career through courses in geography, public policy, etc. the environment/sustainability touches more aspects of life than I ever imagined. I remember feeling a bit unsure about taking a job outside of environmental work, but I believe the broad perspective I have gained will be invaluable.
 
My passion is still sustainability and I have found ways to incorporate it into my everyday work as well I hope to one day drive change in the field through technological development.


About me:Caitlin McNeil photo
Caitlin McNeil
B.S. in Environmental Engineering (2009)
M.S. in Environmental Engineering (2010)
Battelle Memorial Institute, Columbus OH

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Research Engineer / Project Manager:
I work within research teams to investigate and solve energy issues including carbon dioxide emissions and future energy sources. My role also focuses on working to design, plan, and execute field, lab, and office work with other engineers and other science-based majors to develop technical solutions for clients' (industrial/commercial/government) issues.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
The key skills required include a general understanding of scientific principles like having controls in experimentation and having a good basis in technical/design thinking while being able to apply these concepts to all types of problems, whether in your area of expertise or not. Communication and connection with diverse (age and background) personnel and being able to translate the technical into common terminology as you would for someone with no technical experience in the subject matter.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Environmental Engineering?
If you learn engineering and scientific principles and have a good foundation to work from, you can work in almost any area and learn concepts as you go. The willingness and openness to learning new concepts and working in new areas is very beneficial – don’t box yourself in, there are lots of opportunities out there!


About me:Jake Marzec photo
Jake Marzec
B.S. in Environmental Engineering (2015)
AECOM (formerly URS), Columbus, OH

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as Graduate Water Resources Engineer:
As a water resources engineer, I am involved in projects relating to water conveyance/distribution systems, stormwater management, and water/wastewater treatment. My responsibilities include writing and editing technical reports and memos, using AutoCAD Civil 3D to create and edit design plans, and using ArcGIS and PCWMM to create hydraulic models for conveyance/distribution systems and stormwater management related projects.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
To  be a successful water resources engineer, it is important to be, or become, proficient in AutoCAD, ArcGIS, and PCSWMM. Also, great communication skills, and strong writing skills are important when working in the consulting engineering field.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Environmental Engineering?
Environmental engineering was the perfect major for me because it drew from chemistry, applied mathematics and even some biology. The major is suited for those that are interested in working in water resources engineering, environmental remediation and air pollution control engineering. I would advise those interested in majoring in environmental engineering to determine the impact they would like to make as they grow into environmental engineers. If this impact includes solving problems relating to air/water pollution and other environmental hazards, then the environmental engineering major may be the best course of study for an undergraduate. 


About me:Jon Miner photo
Jon Miner
B.S. in Environmental Engineering (2015)
B.S. in Environmental Science (2015)
ms consultants, inc., Columbus, OH

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Design Engineer:
I provide engineering design for storm water, drinking water and sanitary sewer projects. This work includes but is not limited to: calculations, drafting, modeling, specifications, permitting, and field work.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
Design engineers must be quick to adapt to a variety of projects. There is not one solution for every project, so a balance must be found between what the client wants and available technologies. Additionally, engineers need to be very detailed oriented. Catching a small error in a project can mean a difference of thousands of dollars.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Environmental Engineering?
I think the most important thing to do while in college is to really explore different engineering opportunities. Internships are the best way to do that. You may find that there are certain fields in engineering that you do not particularly like and it is much better to find that out in an internship setting than it is to find out once you're in a full time position. Follow your passions and don't settle. There is a perfect job out there for everyone.


About me:Michael Irwin photo
Michael Irwin    
B.S. in Environmental Engineering (2013)
Arcadis, Columbus, OH

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Water Resources Engineer:
In the big picture, my role as a design engineer is to develop an understanding of our clients’ (usually a water/wastewater utility) goals for certain projects, and then to design solutions that benefit the client. On a daily basis, this includes preparing drawings for construction projects, gathering information though discussions with clients or through site visits, contacting equipment manufacturers to make water/wastewater equipment selections, and coordinating with contractors during construction projects.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
The main skills that are required for my job include: hydraulics/fluid flow calculations, an understanding of water/wastewater processes, the ability to read and create construction drawings, being willing/able to learn how to use new engineering design software, and organization and documentation of engineering calculations and decisions.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Environmental Engineering?
If you are considering majoring in environmental engineering, my advice to you would be to join an on-campus engineering student group (SEE, ASCE, etc.) to find out more about what environmental engineers do in their jobs. Some of the most valuable things these student groups provide is the opportunity to attend professional panels (hear experiences from engineers, great networking opportunity) and facility tours (get a chance to see and become familiar with the actual treatment plants, landfills, and remediation sites that environmental engineers design).


About me:
Qianheng Wang
B.S. in Environmental Engineering, Nanjing University (2007)
M.S. in Environmental Engineering (2009)
Saint Gobain, Upstate NY

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as an Environmental Health Safety Manager:
I lead the environmental health safety (EHS) team and direct all EHS programs at multiple manufacturing locations. In additon, I collaborate with other functional departments, including facilities/maintenance, quality control, production, supply chain and etc, to incorporate EHS into successful business operations.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
The skills that are required for my role include: program management, strategic planning, hands-on knowledge of manufacturing processes, and knowledge of relevant government regulations (EPA/OSHA). You must also possess the ability to communicate with/present to people of various levels and different backgrounds.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Environmental Engineering?
My advice is to get familiar with the settings (industry, research, non-profit, etc) that you want work in by speaking with people who have those experiences. Obtain relevant work experience through internships and/or co-ops, so you have a feel for what you really like; this is crucial in helping you align your major with your career goals after graduation.


About me:
Danny Yodzis
B.S. in Environmental Engineering (2015)
Brown and Caldwell, Columbus, OH

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Staff Engineer:
Brown and Caldwell is a 100% environmental consulting firm which means my work spans across a multitude of project types. In our Columbus office, I focus on designing green infrastructure projects, sanitary sewers and pump stations, and wastewater/water treatment plants. My responsibilities within every project include performing preliminary studies, writing technical memos and design reports, detailed plan design, and construction management services. Within these various tasks, work will include calculations, utilizing GIS mapping software, technical writing, permitting, field work, and budgeting.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
I have learned that the main skills needed to be a successful engineer consultant are teamwork, adaptability, communication, and technical skills. Technical skills are the foremost important skill to have when it comes to my field but there will always be someone who is more technically sound than you and that is where teamwork and communication help immensely. No project will ever go according to script and being able to adapt on the fly and think outside of the box for a solution will go a long way in pleasing the client. Fully understanding the clients' wants and needs is paramount and being able to adequately deliver a project on time and on budget with a solid solution will make for a happy client.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Environmental Engineering?
My advice to students who are considering this major would be to do it! If someone has a passion for the environment and values clean water, air, etc. then this is the perfect major for them. There are many different careers out there for this major so if that passion exists in any student then I am sure they would find a job perfect for them. I would also implore these students to get involved in a student organization while in school. Networking is a big part of my life as a consultant and the peers you study with and get involved with while in school are the same peers who you will see at professional organization events and possibly even be working with later in your career. 2.1 billion people around the world don't have access to safe drinking water and 4.5 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation. If a student is interested in being a part of the solution to this global crisis, then this is the major for them.