“What do you want to be when you grow up?” My children always seem to have the best answers. They want to be potion makers and acrobats and superheroes or something equally fantastic. I don’t think I ever had a solid answer for this question when I was growing up and I certainly never thought “engineer!” In fact, I started college with the idea of discovering my calling and, at one point, I thought I was done with math classes after college algebra (funny, right?). But, alas, it was engineering that finally found me after two years of undeclared liberal arts prerequisites (how many engineers have three semesters of English classes in addition to technical communications?) and a realization that I wanted a career where I could make a difference and had actual job opportunities. Growing up, I was always happiest playing outside, camping, hiking, and swimming so the combination of environmental protection and the demand for engineers made Environmental Engineering sound like the perfect fit for me, even if I had a limited understanding of what engineers actually do.
When the dean of engineering asked me if I knew what I was getting into, I told him I didn’t but I was sure I could figure it out. He must have been okay with that answer because he let me enroll in the engineering program. And, as I’ve come to learn, the ability to figure it out is an invaluable trait for an engineer. In school, I was always one of my professor’s favorite students not because I was the smartest kid in the room, but because I was never afraid to ask questions. In my professional career at Hussey Gay Bell, I am responsible for such a wide variety of work including environmental due diligence and investigations, landfill permitting and design, NEPA compliance for roadway projects, oil spill prevention plans, underground storage tank closure and cleanup, and more. No two projects are ever the same. Over the last 18 years working at Hussey Gay Bell, I can say, the ability to “figure it out” has served me well. I think one of the reasons I could never decide what I wanted to be was that I could just never choose one thing. As it turns out, here I get to be a little bit of everything. I just had to figure it out.