AAWRE Diplomates Celebrate Awesome for 2013 National Engineers Week!
Join AAWRE and other engineering organizations and societies as we help celebrate 2013 National Engineers Week, February 17-23. As in years past, this high-profile celebration gives engineers from all disciplines an opportunity to showcase their love of engineering and highlight the vast contribution they make to a quality of life we all enjoy. The theme for 2013 is Celebrate Awesome.
Find out in their own words from our AAWRE Diplomate, Water Resources Engineers on why civil engineering is important to our societies, what they love about water resources and civil engineering, and hear their pitch on why students should pursue a career in civil engineering!
ASCE 2013 President & Chief Executive Officer, Tualatin Valley Water - Beaverton, OR
Civil engineers are the stewards of our nation's infrastructure. Because of the work we do, Americans (in U.S.) enjoy a high quality of life. They have access to clean safe drinking water, they are able to move from point to point over our interstate highway system, they can swim and fish in our rivers and streams, made possible by the work of engineers in treating waste and stormwater runoff. And they can do all of these things with confidence.
As the chief executive of a water utility, the work we do in providing clean, safe and reliable drinking water is a measure of the quality of life we enjoy. In fact clean drinking water is credited with adding 20 years to the life expectancy of Americans. We are not only in the infrastructure business- we are in the public health business.
As ASCE President, I am a spokesperson. The personal satisfaction for making people's lives better cannot be overestimated. As civil engineers, we solve problems for the betterment of humanity and improve their quality of life. As result of our involvement in infrastructure, we also provide and create jobs that strengthen and support our economy.
President, Public Utility Management and Planning Service - Hollywood, FL
Society has developed based on access to, in order, safe drinking water, water management, waste disposal, transportation and building standards. Without water, sewer, stor5mwater and transportations, society does not function. The difference between developed societies and the third world is access to these services. All are in the domain of civilian or civil engineers, and have been for thousands of years. Civil engineering is an old and honorable profession. It I one tasked with solving major challenges in society. Over time we have added treatment plants, highways, airports, shipping channels, flood protection, runoff, bridges, skyscrapers, tunnels, railroads, etc. The list is endless. With our deteriorating infrastructure, the job prospects and the need for innovation will make civil engineering a growth industry for the foreseeable future. People can't live without civil engineers, even if people don't realize what we do.
Problem-solving. Sustainability is a major, long-term issue, especially as it relates to groundwater. The water-power nexus is a coming challenge. Trying to solve problems to arrive at innovative solutions makes it interesting and every situation different.
Do you like trains, truck, cars, or boats? The roadways they operate on were designed by civil engineers. It's cool stuff. People need water and we want to get rid of the bad stuff. We need cool innovative ideas. You can help society. And make pretty good living while you are at it!
Regents Professor, Oklahoma State University – Stillwater, OK
My response to why civil engineering is important, what I love about water resources engineering, and my advice for students to pursue a career in civil engineering is:
"I am a water guy. I make (and do) things that help people."
Surface Water Manager, Island Co. Public Works - Coupeville, WA
Civil engineering provides (its) society with some of the basic needs beyond that of a 3rd world country.
Water is part of life. It has rules to follow but it still can be very random and disorganized. Figuring out the desired amount of organization without excessive use of money makes water resource engineering a challenge.
Here's a profession that has many faces, it can be very abstract or very applied, a person can travel or stay close to home, have results buried in secrets or have them broadcast by the media. And that's just barely touching on the topic.
President, Stormwater Solutions, Inc. - Cocoa Beach, Florida
Civil Engineers construct and maintain the backbone of our country to keep roads, water, sewage, flood control, and pollution control infrastructure functioning at the high levels of service our modern society expects and needs for safety and convenience.
Most people want adequate water supplies and clean rivers and lakes, but do not know how to achieve these goals. It brings me joy and satisfaction knowing I can fulfill these needs used by much of society.
Our modern society is complex and technical. There will always be civil engineering careers for those with math and science backgrounds. We reach across all of society to make the world a better place.
Director, Membrane Technologies, TKI Malcolm Pirnie – San Francisco, CA
We are creating basis for life.
Water = Life
Water = Life. Be part of it.
Retired Engineer, Bureau of Reclamation – Lakewood, Colorado
To me, Civil Engineering is really what makes our world go. We do highways, bridges, dams and a whole bunch of other things we rely on. My special interest is in Water Resources. When we work with water resources we not only keep everybody safe from floods, we provide water for our homes, to raise crops, for us to drink and for all kinds of other uses. And water can be used to produce clean, safe power and for recreation.
Water resources will always be important to all of us - so it's not just fun, there's a great future there!!
Senior Engineer, South Florida Water Management District – West Palm Beach, FL
Civil Engineering is important to our public and society because of the diversity of this learned profession. Civil Engineers design roads, bridges, airports, ports, parks, sports stadiums and arenas. These are visible to the public. In addition, civil engineers design drainage so people and property are not damaged by rainfall events. They design stormwater management systems including canals, levees, and stormwater pumping stations. Civil Engineers also design buildings so they do not collapse. Without Civil Engineers we would have no safe drinking water, no wastewater treatment and disposal, no reuse water for irrigation, and no safe method to dispose of our domestic garbage or hazardous waste. In addition, civil engineers design pipelines for water, wastewater, gas, electric, etc. I always ask students to close their eyes and imagine what everyday life would be like without all these services. Most people take all their services for granted but it is the civil engineer who designs these.
Civil engineers are also active in their communities serving on various advisories boards and devoting their spare time to promote engineering for our youth through various volunteer activities like MathCounts, Future City, and SECME competitions.
EWRI 2011 President & Professor and Chair, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Brigham Young University - Provo, Utah
Without Civil Engineering we would be living in a Gary Larson cartoon. Civil engineering solves most of the overhead issues of living.
Every problem is different and your imagination still matters.
How would you like to make a real difference in the quality of peoples' lives? How would you like to figure out how things work and make them better? How about making math meaningful? Try a career in civil engineering.
Associate Professor, Tsinghua University, School of environment - Beijing, China
I enjoy the sound of the water environment most. I feel relaxed when I see the clear water, the fish swimming in the water, and the birds fly over the water.
What a harmonious picture! I love my work (and my colleagues) of protecting the water environment and rehabilitating the polluted water environment.
I would use the scientific data and the examples from daily lives to show the importance of civil engineering. Use the interesting phenomena related to water environment to arouse their interests, and use my knowledge and experiences to guide them.
Inaugural EWRI President & Chair, Paso del Norte Watershed Council - Las Cruces, NM
We are 'a People Serving Community'.
You 'will never be by yourself on any work effort'.
2009 ASCE President & President, Klotz Associates – Houston, TX
Civil engineering is a misnomer. We should be called civilization engineers. We literally build the physical aspects of civilization. The only reason that people can live together is that civil engineers provide safe shelter, pure water, efficient transportation, dependable drainage, and a host of other infrastructure. We do our jobs so well that the average citizen never thinks about our work. In many ways, their inattention to our work is the ultimate compliment. They can go about their daily business without any worries that the foundations of their city will fail. Why are civil engineers so important? The answer is easy. No civil engineers, no cities. No cities, no civilization.
The one thing that we must have to live is water. All other systems and products are important, but none of them are required for life. Working around water gives a feeling of working with a living organism. Water moves and it moves powerfully. In addition to life, water provides sanitation, cleaning, agriculture, economic development, fire protection, and recreation. Water is not a static product. We find it, clean it, distribute it, use it, collect it, clean it again, and put it back into nature where the entire process begins again. Water resources engineers play a small but important role in the circle of life.
Students today have a high awareness of the need of so many people in the world. They see the ongoing changes in our world, and they want to have a personal stake in making life better for people. Civil engineering is their ticket to improving the quality of life. Many people are content to find the problems and communicate about them. Civil engineers are the people who find the problems and solve them. Civil engineers literally change the world for the better. If you want to feel better about the world, pursue social justice. If you want to change the world, be a civil engineer.
President, WaterWonks LLC - Washington, D.C.
It is the ultimate humanitarian profession requiring the use of thoughtful and deliberate skills and unfaltering integrity to focus on improving the health and welfare of our public.
Water is the hub of life. Water resource engineers have the social and ethical responsibility to protect and preserve the world's most valuable resource. They use their science and engineering expertise to inform decision making around the policies, infrastructure, management, and use of the world's most valuable resource to insure a sustainable future for generations to come. I am proud to have been able to spend my whole career in this field.
Don't let anyone tell you that you cannot be an engineer. Don't let teachers, parents, media, school counselors, friends or anyone steer you away from exploring this wonderful path of study and career. Don't listen to the noise. "You don't fit the mold." "You don't look like an engineer." "You know, it's too hard." "It's just for boys." "Engineers are nerds." "You'll never pass the physics and math." "You aren't smart enough."
Civil engineers are creative, gutsy, artsy, intuitive, driven, socially conscience, communicative, hardworking, culturally diverse humanitarians.
The solution for today's problems and the hope for tomorrow's future hinges on the bright minds and diverse perspectives of all our children. Tomorrow's engineers must mirror all of our society and the diverse cultures and talents that make this nation great.
President, VSM Engineering, LLC – Kansas City, MO
I meet a PR consultant who said "Engineers help save lives" which I kind of liked. We also make lives easier, healthier and better. (To me – the big problem is many people don't understand HOW we make lives better. i.e. - How do you explain flood prevention to someone who has never (gone through) being flooded?)
I like the idea of "harnessing the earth" and working with the earth, water and sky to make lives easier/healthier to live. We also have the opportunity to make beautiful places.
It's a way to help your community live, grow and prosper. For the more mercenary approach – I tell them about the starting salaries of engineers and that you will always be needed.
Principal Civil Engineer, Sacramento Municipal Utility District – Sacramento, CA
Engineering applies the fruits of scientific knowledge to our everyday lives. Civil engineering in particular covers the buildings we live in, the incredible system of highways and ports which bring us what we want and the water supply which washes away what we don't want. In countries where civil engineering hasn't been a priority, you could see the result over the past few years: devastation after the earthquake in Haiti and the tsunami in Indonesia. Even our electric grid relies on sturdy power line towers and soundly built power plants: the work of civil engineers.
I've long thought rivers were fun to float down and have been inspired by the sight and sound of waterfalls. In water resources I do more than just look at them, I make sure they are in good health. I put that water to good use to supply society's needs while keeping the rest of the environment safe. Floods and droughts and expensive water construction project proposals really affect everyone and I like being one of the few "in the know" about them. I know water's being used correctly and respectfully because I'm doing it and I want it done right. People ask me the best way to do difficult calculations, and I can confidently answer them.
Can you imagine North America back 200 years ago? A vast world peopled by native tribes and new immigrants, clean water in every stream. Societies which recognized and respected how dependent humanity is on nature. It is a beautiful memory. Now that our population has swollen, we need to rely on more than firewood to keep warm and candles for light. What goes down the drain doesn't get diluted enough before someone else needs that water. Most us might enjoy fresh food but we would rather someone else grow it and truck it to a store near us. This can't all happen by itself. Civil engineers make it happen. We make buildings and roads which are sturdy yet inexpensive enough to leave public money available to fund education and health. Clean air and reliable water would be unimaginable nowadays without civil engineers' high-tech water supply, power plants, and waste facilities. Civil engineers know how they work and make them better.
Water Resources Engineer and Project Manager, CDM Smith – Singapore
Civil, environmental, and water resources engineers will play a big role in meeting the big challenges and exciting opportunities of the coming decades. For example, how will we provide water, energy, and food to a growing and increasingly urbanized population while also preventing pollution and damage to ecosystems? What technologies and policies can be combined to create productive and livable cities for the coming generations? Our engineering skills and knowledge will be critical to meet these challenges, and we also will need to work with our fellow professionals such as urban designers, planners, and scientists.
I like working with public agencies, landowners, and other decision makers to identify the goals that are most important to them, and then use engineering tools and knowledge to help them make the right decisions to meet these goals.
Children are naturally interested in many of the things engineers deal with – structures, machines, and ecosystems, for example. They may be interested in where their water and electricity come from, where their garbage goes, and what happens when it rains. Show them pictures and animations and provide hands-on activities, while maintaining a sense of curiosity and play. Don't mention that math is involved until they're already hooked and it's too late!
Senior Engineer, RPS Espey - Austin, Texas
Public health-(safe drinking water, wastewater collection and treatment), transportation infrastructure, surface drainage and flood hazard mitigation, water resources management to provide for current and future population needs.
Direct connection to the community I live in, seeing completed public works infrastructure projects that I was directly involved in planning and design.
Opportunity to apply scientific and physical principals for the direct betterment of society, see and touch your own work, direct involvement in the growth and betterment of your home community is a real possibility.
Project Engineer, CDM Smith – New Orleans, LA
Our work produces the products that everyone takes for granted, roads, water, sewers, bridges, buildings, lakes, and airports, ports and railways. You may miss your iphone, ipad or HD television, but without civil works they would serve little purpose.
Water resources involves protecting and utilizing the one commodity that we need the most and has a finite limited supply. As the earth continues to grow in population there is more demand for the one resource that cannot be regenerated. Rainfall amounts have been averaged over hundreds of years and while highly variable are not growing on an annual basis. There are parts of the world that remain underdeveloped primarily because they lack water resources. This brings us to our last frontier which is the oceans to reclaim that water for use in supporting the civilizations of the world.
It isn't rocket science! It is using common sense in a logical process to produce products that can be used to improve our lives and make us more productive. The profession can be very simple or very complex and how far you want to go into the profession is your choice. It also allows flexibility to change your direction easily if you decide you want to focus on a different direction. Start designing parking lots, continue on to roads, then to bridges and culverts, then to storm water systems, and then to water pipelines and to water treatment plants then to wastewater plants and so on. It is a profession where with some basic instruction and specialty training you can have a wide variety of work experiences. Civil engineering dates back older than any other engineering when the Romans were building roads and aqueducts and the Egyptians pyramids.
Project Manager, Keller Associates, Inc. – Pocatello, ID
Civil engineering has created society as we know it- sure the computers, cell phones and ipads get all the hype but we wouldn't get where were going (transportation), wouldn't have any place to go (structural, geotech), and wouldn't have the sanitary facilities when we got there (water resources, environmental). So really we are the stable structure that the pretty part of society is built on.
The knowledge that what I do gets used by every person on the planet every day, granted they may look different in different regions (hand dug well vs. desalinization water treatment plant).
Civil engineers touch every aspect of life (human or environment) every day. We are the profession responsible for keeping our planet and our society in harmony.
Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Texas Tech University – Lubbock, TX
Many aspects of our services and problem-solving are directed toward public works, such as water supply/treatment/distribution, transportation, environmental sustainability, and safe long-lasting structures.
It is always clear that we are really pretty small on this planet, and the hydrologic processes that generate the presence and absence of water at any place and time are beyond our complete control. The challenges of planning constructed systems and their operations for application under sizable uncertainties are both sobering and rewarding.
I still think we contribute to the quality of life that is expected by our citizens. They expect safe drinking water, pleasant surroundings, and protection from weather extremes. We must build and pay for the infrastructure that makes those ideals possible, and unfortunately everything we build requires maintenance and eventually wears out.
Professor at University of Houston, Civil and Environmental Engineering & AAWRE founding board member – Houston, TX
Civil engineering is the profession often directly impacting the public health (via water supply, flood control, drinking water treatment, wastewater treatmentâ€¦) and safety (safer roads, transit, railroads, bridges, airports, strong buildings, etc...)
Water resources engineering is important to water supply and distribution, water/wastewater treatment, water quality evaluation, stormwater management, and the hydrologic/hydraulic modeling necessary to properly analyze projects.
Please work hard on learning math and science and computer skills that will facilitate your preparation for civil engineering.
A good start would be to get involved in the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) Future Cities competition with playing SimCity games and Minecraft engineering- oriented games. Minecraft is a game about placing blocks to build anything you can imagine- you can try at www.minecraft.org/ website.
Also, check out the ASCE website resources on People and Projects and the history of civil engineering at: http://www.asce.org/People-and-Projects/ and page focused on civil engineering students: http://www.asce.org/students/.
Good luck and best wishes to have an Awesome Civil Engineering Career to help build and re-build our infrastructure!
Director, Clean Water Projects, Desarrollo Comunitario Vozandes – Quito, Ecuador
Civil engineering provides the technical know-how for the important infrastructure for the wellbeing mankind. Health, safety, efficient use of the earth's resources, and care for the earth are key values underlying civil engineering. These values undergird our professional with a high ethic and stir us to maintain integrity.
Water resources engineering is a wonderful avenue of public service which challenges us to care for and to use the earth's resources wisely in a way that pleases our Creator.
Chairman, Halff Associates – Richardson, TX
Civil Engineers help build civilization.
Combining expertise, experience and creative thinking to develop and implement balanced, sustainable solutions that address our water resource challenges.
I would do my best to describe the personal satisfaction that I have experienced in my career as a civil engineer helping to build civilization.
Principal and Manager, Los Angeles Branch, Geosyntec Consultants - Los Angeles, CA
Civil engineering is what makes societies GREAT. Without civil engineers there would be no place to drive, board an airplane, or take a train. You couldn't drink the water, and when it rained you would be floodedâ€¦ and the water would be really dirty. There would be no buildings, piers or harbors, and it would be really difficult to get electricity. You couldn't watch NFL, NBA, MLB, or NHL games because there would be no stadiums or arenas. You couldn't cross a river because there would be no bridges. Life would be so boring.
Water is precious, and it's all around us. There would be no cities without water. Plants give us oxygen, and they die without water. You need clean water to drink and take a shower. If the water in our lakes, rivers, and beaches are dirty, we can't swim or fish or surf in them. Everything needs water! I love water resources engineering because it's so important and makes a difference in all of our lives.
We make life better. We build things. We know there is a balance between nature and our built environment. You can do this too.
Director, U.S. Geological Survey, National Wetlands Research Center – Lafayette, LA
Civil engineering in our society has rarely, if ever, looked more promising. During the coming decades, I believe our biggest challenges involve reducing our demand on foreign energy sources and in work force planning. Our profession will have to step up in the design of more environmentally sound new infrastructure as well as retooling our aging transportation infrastructure with "greener" alternatives. Engineering and ecology will necessarily have to merge to accomplish this. Gone are the days when these two sciences exist separately, but rather, they will have to forge a marriage of necessity to achieve that balance between human population and ecosystem restoration and protection. Frankly, I look forward to helping.
Lastly, our profession faces a critical work force planning issue as about 40% of our population reaches retirement age. The civil engineering community needs to begin now to engage the youth of today and recruit, mentor, and promote the young in our society that have the talent to be engineers. Our Nation has never been at a cross-road like the one we will face in the coming several years with regards to growing and maturing a new generation of civil engineers.
Water resources engineering and the AAWRE are and have been a love and a joy in my career. My goal is to help to ensure our great field of civil engineering remains great, particularly water resources engineering, by recruiting and maintaining a standard which we can be proud of for generations in the future. More and more of the U.S. states are demanding that a civil engineer maintain his/her professional license by continuing education credits. The AAWRE has taken professional development of those in water resources engineering a few steps further with enhanced continuing education requirements that help ensure our profession continues to be the best in the world.
Serving others is one of the principal reasons we work in civil engineering. This planet desperately needs engineering knowledge, application, and techniques. Serving others builds consideration, appreciation. There is no greater calling in life than to serve others willingly for the good of the whole. To me, civil engineering provides a sterling standard of leadership and as most may know, is most effective when one leads by example. You cannot lead by asking others to do something you yourself would not do. In that respect, service is leadership.
There has never been a more opportune time to study civil engineering and become involved in the evolution of its application. The revolution in electronics in the last two decades has afforded engineering with incredible new modeling capability, data management ability, surveying control and science monitoring and research. And there has never been a greater need to merge engineering and ecology to equalize the fragile balance of nature and mankind that we will have to improve to sustain our society in the future.
Senior Vice President, Parsons Brinckerhoff – Baltimore, MD
Civil engineering is one of the most critical contributors to providing our public a safe environment to live and work. A civil engineers education and work experience focuses on designing and construction of safe, economical and sustainable projects.
Water resources engineering offered me the opportunity to work on major water resources projects in the US and around the world. The rewards are many including designing and building improvements to the water related environment, meeting others from different cultures and having fun doing your work.
Civil engineering provides the best opportunity to make significant contributions to the world's infrastructure while working directly with the public and sharing the rewards of accomplishment.
Principal Engineer, South Florida Water Management District – West Palm Beach, FL
It raises the standard of living for everyone.
Seeing the results of design and analysis come to fruition in the field.
If you want a career that serves mankind and makes a difference- this is it.