Published: Aug. 7, 2020

Caitlin is a 2018 MENV graduate and currently works for the Muller Engineering Company as a Traffic ITS Design Engineer/CAV Specialist. In this alumni spotlight article, Caitlin tells us about her current position with Muller Engineering, her time in MENV and what led her to the program in the first place.  

Tell Us a Little Bit About Your BackgroundCaitlin Yong

I became an Environmentalist quite early in my childhood since I grew up camping, snowboarding, and skateboarding all over California and Utah. You could say my family was rather outdoorsy compared to the average Southern California family. From there I always knew I wanted to work one way or another to help appease the human impact on the environment.

I went to Purdue University for a Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences Bachelor’s Degree and started the Purdue University Longboarding Club. After my undergraduate studies, I traveled and raced around the world as a Professional Downhill Skateboarder. Once I realized I could not race skateboards down steep mountain roads forever, I started working as a Technical Writer at a Global Dental Laboratory in their Auditing Department. I learned to embrace and rather enjoy standard operating procedures (SOPs) and documentation management. After realizing my calling was to work for the government to help reduce negative environmental impacts, I set off to pursue a Master’s Degree in Environmental Policy at the University of Colorado Boulder. And that is where I landed at MENV!  


Where Do You Work Now and What’s Your Role? What other job experience led you to your current role?

I work at Muller Engineering Company in Lakewood, Colorado as their Traffic - Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) Design Engineer/ Connected Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) Specialist. I design transportation technology systems that will be implemented all over Colorado and other states that help make the transportation system more safe and efficient. Previously, I worked at the City and County of Denver as their Smart City Senior Engineering Associate/ Connected Vehicle Technical Lead helping implement Connected Vehicle Technology on the streets of Denver through their $12M Advanced Transportation Congestion Management Technology Deployment (ATCMTD) grant with the Program Manager at the time, Matthew McAllister (who previously directly worked under the Chief Technology Officer under the Obama Administration) and Project Manager at the time, Janell Schafer (all-time extraordinary human being). From my opportunity with the City and County of Denver, my previous Technical Writing work experience, and MENV capstone experience, led me to my current role as a Traffic-ITS Design Engineer/ CAV Specialist.


How Did the MENV Program Help You to Develop Your Professional Career? What Drew You to the MENV Program?

The MENV Program helped me develop my professional career by connecting me to industry professionals all over the state and the program’s capstone project gave me the opportunity to have hands-on and industry-related work which was necessary to make a career change. Prior to MENV, I was searching for the graduate program that fit my aspirations and goals; my main objective was to get a rewarding and impactful career. I ended up choosing MENV because the program is a professional master's degree. I firmly believe that just having a master’s degree on your resume will not get you the dream job; the real-world experience and hard work along with the master’s degree lead you to the career you have only dreamt about.


What Were Some of Your Favorite Courses and Experiences that You Participated in During Your Graduated Experience? What course helped prepare you the most for your current work position?

My favorite courses were Adam Reed’s Energy Policy in the 21st Century course, Mark Squillace’s Environmental Decision Making course, and Jeffrey York’s The Business of Sustainable Energy course. Those three classes were thought-provoking and impactful. Those courses taught me how to think critically and how to ask the right questions every day at my current Traffic-ITS Design Engineer position. One of my favorite experiences during the MENV program was going to Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and Beijing, China to study the mass deployment of battery-electric buses with my classmates Shantelle Dreamer and John Heaton IV (both working as awesome Sustainable Transportation Planners right now).


What Was Your Capstone Project?

My Capstone Project was with the Regional Transportation District (RTD) to create a Roadmap for Bus Fleet Electrification. I worked along an amazing and hardworking team composed of Haylee Ferington (currently working as a Clean Energy Communities Coordinator), Shantelle Dreamer, and John Heaton IV. While we were fresh blood in the transportation industry, we worked with the resources we had and creativity to analyze RTD’s current bus system to determine the benefits and feasibility of RTD’s transition to battery-electric buses from diesel buses. One of my main tasks was to research, analyze, and recommend to RTD’s Engineering Director a demand charging management software and battery storage system to give RTD control over their high electricity bills. Also, it was a valuable experience presenting our findings and recommendations at numerous meetings to the Planning Department, Sustainability Committee, and Senior Leadership. The work experience with RTD was special and I have to thank our RTD mentors Lacy Bell (Former RTD Senior Transportation Planner) and Carly Macias (Current RTD Senior Transportation Planner) for guiding us through our capstone project.


What Advice Would You Give to a New MENV Student?

I would tell new MENV students to get ready to work hard for your dream job. Start now and not later with starting to connect to industry professionals and constantly learn from your network. Just message someone with your dream job title on LinkedIn and ask for a virtual coffee (in-person coffee after the COVID-19 crisis) to talk about their career path and to get any career advice. I even do this nowadays to keep learning and growing in my career. Remember, your network is your greatest asset.


What Advice Would You Give to a soon to graduate MENV Student?

Network, network, network! Talk to your network, expand your network, and thank your network. Finding a job, and even your dream job takes grueling hours looking on countless job boards, filling out monotonous job applications, and curating the perfect interview question answers, but it is all needed to get the job. We all go through it and all the work will pay off once you land the job.


What is something people may not know about you?

Something people may not know about me is that I would rather have a relaxing day at the Denver Botanic Gardens than go do a death-defying sport these days. When I was at the peak of my downhill skateboarding career, I did not think I would make it past 27 years old. An important friend, Eric Pederson taught me to fulfill my greatest potential by working my hardest to make a positive impact on society. So, yes I do really love my job and spend most of my energy trying to benefit society in any way possible now.


Is there anything else you’d like to share?

For anyone interested, please look up and get involved with these two professional non-profit organizations: Women Transportation Seminar (WTS) Colorado Chapter and ITS Rocky Mountain Chapter. These two organizations have done a lot for my career and it is always beneficial to meet more like-minded individuals in the industry.

Also, I am happy to talk to anyone about career, transportation technology, and anything else, be free to reach out to me at