Why I became an Environmental Engineer
So, Shea asked a good question yesterday. Why did I decide to go into Environmental Engineering? First, maybe I should define it, as in my experience it is a little known field. According to the U.S. Department of Labor:
Using the principles of biology and chemistry, environmental engineers develop solutions to environmental problems. They are involved in water and air pollution control, recycling, waste disposal, and public health issues. Environmental engineers conduct hazardous-waste management studies in which they evaluate the significance of the hazard, offer analysis on treatment and containment, and develop regulations to prevent mishaps. They design municipal water supply and industrial wastewater treatment systems. They conduct research on proposed environmental projects, analyze scientific data, and perform quality control checks.
Environmental engineers are concerned with local and worldwide environmental issues. They study and attempt to minimize the effects of acid rain, global warming, automobile emissions, and ozone depletion. They also are involved in the protection of wildlife.
Now, the simple answer to that question is that when I was a sophomore in high school, my dad grounded me until I had decided what I wanted to study in college. (The relationship I have with my dad is complicated, and we are not actually very close.) I picked Environmental Engineering, mostly because I liked science and math. I didn't really know what it was about.
When I was a senior in high school, I had the opportunity to intern at our local water treatment plant. There, I discovered that I found water treatment fascinating, and decided that that was what I wanted to do. After a poor initial college choice, and a transfer to a school that I loved, but where I got an essentially useless (to me, anyway) degree, I ended up at UMass, where I met Angeler and Phoebs. They are still 2 of my closest friends.
On second thought, I didn't just "end up" at UMass. My professors at GCC (now GCU) knew I wanted to go into engineering, and found me several summer internships to apply for. (And the degree isn't totally useless- an engineer with a liberal arts degree is a rare creature. Y'all will have to trust me when I assure you that you would not read the blogs of my colleagues.) I applied for, and was accepted to, an internship at UMass. The work I did that summer further convinced me that I wanted to study EvE.
So, UMass 4 years, got my degree, and a job in NC. I was running a drinking water pilot plant for my current firm, albeit at another office. At that office, I did mostly drinking water work, with some wastewater work thrown in for variety. After orchestrating a transfer to my current office, I now work mostly on groundwater remediation, doing technology demonstration studies. I am trying to pick up more drinking water optimization studies, but that has been a tough sell. However, I think that will come.
I enjoy what I do, and I like that I am, in some sense, helping to make the world a better place. My family has a history of service-oriented careers, and that is important to me.
As an aside, I enjoy it when y'all ask questions. Please do! (Although, I won't promise to answer all of them. Most of them, but depends on the subject matter.)