I was born/grew up in: Born in Montreal, QC and grew up in Aurora and Bolton, ON
I now live in: Guelph, ON
I completed my training/education at: I have a Bachelor of Environmental Engineering and a Master’s of Applied Science (Environmental Engineering), both from the University of Guelph
What I do at work
I work at Credit Valley Conservation. This is a community based environmental organization dedicated to protecting, restoring, and managing the natural resources of the Credit River Watershed. I am part of the Integrated Water Management team. Our team promotes using green infrastructure for sustainable storm water management and to protect our water resources. We help our partners plan, design, build, operate and maintain green infrastructure. A simple example of green infrastructure is a rain garden that slows down, cleans and filters storm water.
Day to day in my job, I coordinate projects between consultants and municipal partners. I provide technical knowledge and oversight to green infrastructure projects and municipal storm water management. In terms of specific STEM skills, we do detailed review of drawings and plans, calculate storm water runoff and infiltration amounts. We also use CAD and modelling software and think creatively about integrated approaches to water management.
A big part of our work is to apply the lessons learned from green infrastructure projects. We share this knowledge with engineers, builders and municipal staff who are planning and building them in our communities. Our goal is to help build understanding of the benefits of green infrastructure, so it is used more. A big part of this is communicating through both written reports and oral presentations.
We work together as a team a lot. We discuss ideas, brainstorm, and do joint reviews of designs and plans. We also present together and engage with our partners collaboratively. We each bring different skills and experiences to the table and together do some great work. Since I work in a team, I am able to draw on the many years of experience of my team.
My career path is
I started on this career path when I was in grade 8. I had a really encouraging teacher in my science/technology course. At one point, we had to create a working model of a mine! It was a challenge but I really loved that this project gave me the chance to work with my hands and to apply the science I had learned. After this, I continued through school and took lots of science courses. I got my love of the environment from my parents. We were taught to do what we could to be of benefit to others and to take care of the environment (e.g., recycling, water conservation).
When I graduated, I looked for university programs that were in applied science. I highlighted a bunch of them and applied to several. The one that really interested me was the environmental engineering program. I felt it would combine my interest in the environment with practical skills. The engineering part was about applying science to real world situations and the environmental part provided me with opportunity to do something good for the world.
While in my undergraduate studies, I was able to take part in the co-op program. This gave me opportunity to work in a variety of engineering workplaces. In my classes, I learned about how to protect the air, manage water supplies and take care of soil. I was exposed to a variety of work settings where some of this knowledge could be applied. The co-op program was great because it gave me lots of practical experience. It helped me identify what I liked to do, and what I did not like. For example, on one work term, I did a lot of computer modelling. This is very important work in engineering that I enjoyed at the time. However, I realized I didn’t want to only be doing computer modelling in front of a screen all the time. I wanted to be involved in the other creative processes of design and implementation of environmental projects. In another work term, I did research on sustainable water systems. I found this very interesting. I wanted to learn more about this so after working for a little while, I continued into a Master’s program.
When I finished my Master’s, I had the opportunity to work abroad for a few years. I worked on water management projects in Israel and India. This increased my understanding of water management issues. During this time, I applied much of my knowledge and learned a lot about addressing water supply issues. From here, I returned to Canada and took a positon with the Credit Valley Conservation Authority. Learn more from my LinkedIn profile.
I am motivated by
Being part of an organization that has such a positive effect on the local environment and its people is a great feeling! I also have a great team of people to work with. I love that I can apply scientific knowledge to real life problems in a creative way. For example, we were recently involved in a bioswale project. This is a way of collecting contaminated water from roadways and parking lots. This water is filtered and treated before it is released into a nearby creek. It is a great feeling to see the successful completion of this project!
How I affect peoples’ lives
The Credit River Watershed covers a huge area and part of it is in a very densely populated urban area. The Credit River flows through nine municipalities. Because of this, I get to work with many municipal partner groups. The work we do helps to improve storm water management and makes our communities more resilience to climate change. Green infrastructure benefits the environment. When we restore the natural water balance and improve water quality, we in turn protect people and communities.
Outside of work I
I enjoy spending time with friends and family as well as volunteering with youth in my local community, although that is now challenging with the pandemic. I enjoy the outdoors (e.g. hiking and camping). We recently got a dog so now walking the dog is a regular activity.
My advice to others
In general, I would say don’t feel you have to have it all figured out from the beginning. If you take steps to learn about career possibilities, your vision will widen. Keep an open mind for things that might be of interest to you and opportunities that might come your way. It’s good to work towards a goal while being open to new possibilities. If you want work that will be of service to your community or the environment, then environmental engineering might be for you!