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Civil Engineering Overview

Agnes Ayuso

Water Resources Engineer
Camp Dresser & McKee, Inc.


 

B.S., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
M.S., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Water Resources Engineer, involved in lake/reservoir/river water quality assessment and modeling, sewer system modeling, water quality field programs, and watershed management planning
"What I like most about being a civil engineer is the variety of projects and the combination of scientific and social thinking needed in each project."


Ayuso: "I am a water resources engineer at Camp Dresser & McKee. I guess a lot of people think that engineers would all day like, I don't know, do -- build buildings or something, that that's the only thing engineers do. But what I do is -- a lot of people would not think of it as like engineering because what I -- what I do is I work a lot with computers and for one part that tends to be technical. But there's also a lot of sides to the job that are not just like technical or computer related. We do field work, we go out. We have to take samples. We have to organize field programs. We have to round up people to go to these field programs. We have to write reports. There's a lot of writing."

Q: Is there any other advice you have for people that are starting out or are not really sure, like you weren't really sure what kind of science they want to study. How can they sort that out? What should they do to make that decision?
Ayuso: Well, like I said before, I was really concerned about am I going to be able to find a job or, you know, what am I going to do? How am I going to sustain myself? And I guess I would tell them that it is important to know what career opportunities there are and I wouldn't go blindly into a profession without finding out what kind of opportunities there are. But that shouldn't be the sole focus; they should also like what they are doing. Because they are going to be working 40 hours a week for the rest of their life or unless they hit the lottery or something so they should try and find something that they enjoy doing. And I would say don't be afraid if you are interested in the environmental field, because it's growing a lot. And it is true that civil engineering is not the highest paid but there are things in civil engineering that I like a lot. I like a lot of projects that I work in and I feel that I'm contributing to society. That's one of the most beautiful things about civil engineering, that you're doing things for that are beneficial, where in other jobs you might not be connected that directly to beneficial things.

Q: So do you really like being an engineer?
Ayuso: Yes, I -- I guess I take it for granted perhaps now. It surprised me because I guess a lot of people think that engineers would all day build buildings or something, that not the only thing engineers do. But what I do is work with computers and for one part that tends to be technical. But computers are becoming easier for people to work with and it is true that here we try to push the boundaries of what we do with computers but there's also a lot of sides to the job that are not just technical or computer related. We do field work. We have to take samples. We have to organize field programs. We have to round up people to go to these field programs. We have to write reports. There's a lot of writing. And a lot of times, the type of writing that we do has to be to explained to people who don't have the technical knowledge. Explain to them what's going on so the client can understand what the problem is and why are we proposing these solutions and why the solution costs more than the other one and what is the difference there. There's also a lot of opportunity to use creativity because in this firm we do a lot of studies that people haven't really done a lot before. We have to go to the library, do some research, find out what these people did and think of ways of how we're going to approach this problem. It's not cut and dried, it's not like a formula or anything.


 


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