Name: Hallie Bevan Simpson
Year of graduation: 2008
Option Track (water/air/EDC.): Water
Current Job/Company: Amec Foster Wheeler Environment & Infrastructure, Telluride, Colorado
Past Job/Company: CH2M Hill, Walsh Environmental Scientists & Engineers
How your time at CU (and specifically in EVEN) set you apart? How has it helped you to succeed?
My time at CU was busy! I was very active both academically and with extracurricular activities. Ultimately, I earned a College of Engineering Active Learning Award for Discovery (I performed research with Professor Joe Ryan through the Discovery Learning Apprenticeship Program), Service (I participated in Engineers Without Borders supporting potable water development for a rural community in Peru), and Professional Learning (for my internship with Walsh Environmental Scientists & Engineers). I am also an alumna of the Presidents Leadership Class and a former rock climbing instructor/guide with the CU Outdoor Program. These experiences all gave me invaluable life lessons and taught me many of the skills I know use daily. They also provided my resume with tangible examples of how my time at CU not only prepared me with an excellent engineering education but also shaped me into the unique, well-rounded person that companies look to hire.
How quickly did you find a job after graduation? Do you have any tips or advice on the job search for seniors?
I immediately found work after graduation through the company I had interned with in my final year. The internship resulted from a tip from a professor with whom I'd done undergraduate research. The take-home message for me was simple - start networking immediately! Opportunities tend to lead from one to another, so find something you're passionate about and just keep going down that path. You'll be surprised what doors open to you along the way.
What do you do at Amec Foster Wheeler Environment & Infrastructure?
My position with Amec Foster Wheeler is formally "technical professional II - environmental engineering". I typically support historic and active mine sites with environmental cleanup and compliance. Most recently, my work has focused on a CERCLA (Superfund) site in California, a non-CERCLA emergency response site in Colorado, and an active mine in Alaska - all former or active hard rock mines with contaminated water issues. For these projects, I have co-authored various work plans, reports, and technical documents; collected field samples; reviewed and interpreted analytical data; and supported health and safety compliance. My work typically involves a healthy mix of field and office work.
You have both experience as an environmental engineer and a project engineer. What do you like about being a project manager? What's the hardest part?
My natural tendencies and the skills I've developed over the years draw me to project management - I'm organized, I like understanding and contributing to the "big picture", and I have fun coordinating with multiple entities to achieve common goals. The project manager position tends to be a less technical position for a project (less technical than, for example, the hydraulic engineer running calculations and determining piping design specifications), but the project manager must have a thorough understanding of all of the components of the project. It's challenging to keep up to speed on the details and still maintain a clear view of the path forward - a challenge that I really enjoy.
Do you have any advice for engineering students who are particularly focused on getting into management?
Project management is a position you grow into over time. For most firms, the traditional progression involves lots of field work at the entry level, followed by or in tandem with design work. After a few years, an engineer typically chooses either a technical or management path, though for any given project, your role still may bounce from technical support to technical lead to project manager to data analyst. It's good to be versatile. Glean as much knowledge as you can from any work task you're given. Let your supervisor know what your career goals are, and try to keep an open mind as you progress through your career. If you want to get into management, you need a strong foundation in every aspect of what may be involved on a project. The project manager is often supported by a team, but the buck stops at the project manager. Therefore, the manager needs to understand the project's business, political, health and safety, regulatory, client, and technical expectations and requirements. It takes time and patience to understand all of those components - I'm definitely still working on all of them! With good mentorship and strong relationships with your supervisor and project manager(s), you can learn the ropes and work your way into taking on more and more of the PM responsibilities until one day, you're the PM yourself.
You participated in EWB Peru while at CU. Are you still interested/involved in international efforts? Have you had any international experience is an engineer (excluding CU)?
I am still very interested in international work. At this point in my career, and living in a small mountain town at the moment, I've been focusing my efforts on local issues. I currently volunteer with the San Miguel Resource Center as an advocate for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. I do hope to become involved in international engineering/aid projects again in the future. Professionally, I supported two projects in Mexico a few years ago but have been focused on domestic engineering projects in recent years.
Why do you think students should seek an EVEN degree today?
Today more than ever, we need to think and act with a mind to the environment in every aspect of business. No business endeavor or industry exists in isolation. Impacts to air (stationary emissions, transportation, energy production), water (effluent from industrial processes, domestic and municipal water uses, demands for freshwater), and earth (landfills, mineral and energy exploration, agriculture) are inherent in our society, and a degree in EVEN prepares students to work in and with the vast variety of contributors to those impacts. Engineering degrees apply to those who follow engineering careers as well as those who start in engineering and then pursue law, politics, government, education, research... The list goes on, and an EVEN degree will prepare students to be environmentally conscious leaders in any of those fields.
Do you wish to share your contact info for students or graduates looking to network?
Sure! Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 21st, 2015