Tell me about yourself, your schooling, career path.
I grew up in Baraboo, Wis. and received both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil and environmental engineering from UW-Madison. While in college, I decided I wanted to focus on wastewater treatment after my bachelor’s; this led me to pursue my master’s degree, including a research assistant position for the Kenosha wastewater treatment facility studying odor control systems. After graduation, I worked at EarthTech for 15 years doing wastewater design and later moved to Donohue. In my time with Donohue so far, I am still very wastewater focused, where I manage studies, planning reports, and design projects.
Why did you pursue a career in engineering?
My older brother is a civil engineer focused on transportation and bridge design. While I was still in school, he pointed out my strengths in math and science and I took an interest in engineering. I really wanted to focus on community and city/municipalities and civil engineering was the best fit for me to do that. I wanted to make sure that the career I was choosing was stable and impactful. There will always be a need for water and wastewater engineers.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
Every project we work on is very technical, but the problem solving is my favorite part. We get work because a client has a problem and we are hired to help them solve that problem. I love that we help communities achieve their solutions.
Tell me about the most challenging project you were involved with and what you did you fix it?
I think the most challenging projects are when a smaller community needs to build a new treatment facility. It’s such a financial burden on the community, but when you work through it and give them a cost-effective, successful facility that can serve them for the next 50+ years, it’s a rewarding feeling knowing they will have good and reliable treatment long term.
Where were you in life 5 years ago? 10 years ago? What do you wish you knew back then?
Ten years ago, I was a project engineer, doing more design work and very little management or project development. I have realized that no matter what career you have, a big part of it is people skills. Being able to communicate well and overcome fears of public speaking while you’re younger will help you get further in your career. You can know everything technically about your job, but you still need to put yourself out there and be able to talk with co-workers and clients to succeed.
What advice would you give someone just starting out?
First, be open to getting experience on many different things, no matter what you do, because there’s so many different areas that you can focus on. Try and grab as much experience in each area to figure out what you’re good at and like doing. Second, put yourself out there and be willing to talk to people and speak in front of groups. Sign up for presentations to really overcome the nervousness of public speaking. Once you get over that fear so many of us have and understand that you really can do it, you will become a better engineer.
What do you do for fun?
I have three kids and love going to their activities including soccer, basketball, school plays, and Cub Scouts. If I get to pick the family activity, I love anything related to camping, fishing, or hunting.