Thursday, September 2, 2010

Engineering Spotlight: Kyleen J., CEE

Name: Kyleen J.
Major: Civil Engineering
Title: E.I.T., Bachelor of Civil Engineering
Company: Nannies R Us (not really, but I am currently a nanny...)

Why did you want to become an engineer, and more specifically, your particular type of engineer?
Unlike my dear friend Alisha, I did not enjoy playing with Legos. I did, however, enjoy math workbooks. In fact, I used to complete my brother's workbooks at the end of each school year for fun, even though he is three years older than me. When senior year rolled around, I knew I wanted to attend Georgia Tech. After looking at the majors, I chose architecture on my application. Then, I went to a meeting for incoming architecture students and realized I was the only person in the room who hadn't played with Legos. I asked the advisor how I could do architecture with more math and less art, and civil engineering is what I ended up with. Since then, I have fallen deeply in love with many aspects of civil engineering, including land development, city planning, environmental management, and construction.

What do you do? (At your job or in your research?)
I take care of a 7-month-old baby. Seriously. But what I'm looking to do for my career is anything that's at the intersection of civil engineering and public policy. I live in Los Angeles, so there aren't a lot of jobs available for a recent graduate in my field, but I've heard encouraging things about the energy field, so I'm shifting my job search focus to that area.

At my co-op, I did land development, which gave me the opportunity to work alongside public policymakers, hydraulic engineers, transportation engineers, architects, surveyors, drafters, sanitary engineers, city planners, and construction workers. And here in L.A., we were often working alongside the ocean or celebrity properties, which always made the day a little more interesting. I got to spend time in the office, working with my wonderful co-workers on designs for residential and commercial properties, but I also got to spend time on construction sites, learning about the different stages of construction and the unique challenges for each type of job. Some days, I got to do some light surveying tasks in the field, which included counting parking spaces, measuring distances and curb heights, and taking pictures of wheelchair ramps at every intersection in a particular city. I also got to attend a public hearing on the changes that were being made to the Stormwater Pollution Protection Plans for Ventura County. Sometimes, I'd set alignments in master files for projects or mark up a set of plans to check quantities in cost estimates. A couple of times, I got to go downtown to do research for projects. These were my favorite days because it was usually just as quick to take the freeway downtown as it was to take the Pacific Coast Highway, so I got paid to drive the PCH and see dolphins jumping in the Pacific Ocean!

I loved every single day of my job. There were rough times when an engineer wouldn't trust me with a task or when layoffs came through our office or when I just couldn't meet a deadline, but I was reminded every day that God has given me the ability to perform the tasks necessary for a career that speaks so strongly to many aspects of my personality and my calling.

What do you do outside of engineering?
I spend a lot of time at coffee shops, meeting plenty of people from all different walks of life. God has blessed me with unique ministry opportunities at coffee shops all over L.A. I also enjoy being with my roommates and other believers here, sharing our triumphs and struggles with each other as we seek to live out the Bible through God's transforming grace. I always have a beach towel in my car because I love driving down to Malibu to see the sunset or just soak in some fresh air and sunshine. I really treasure this time in my life, when I can spend hours alone with the Lord and then drive somewhere to meet up with a friend who needs encouragement and then come home to my sisters, who are always up for a good conversation.

Anything else you would like us to know about you or your work?
Civil engineering takes a great deal of technical knowledge, communication skills, determination, and openness to change. Even though it's the oldest type of engineering, technology is changing the field daily as more projects are being handled using video conferencing and 3-D CAD. I can't wait to watch civil engineering evolve into a more sustainable, more ethical, and wiser industry.

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