Questions about civil vs environmental engineering

Hi Morgan,

I am a recent college graduate with a degree in Business Economics and am looking into Environmental Engineering for a potential career change. I know you are a Civil Engineer, but found you via a question you answered about Environmental engineering. I've already started classes so that I can continue my studies and eventually pursue a Master's in Engineering (Or potentially a second bachelors then a masters). Currently, I'm torn between civil, environmental and mechanical. I always thought Civil dealt with bridge construction and infrastructure. However, your job description sounds awesome and unlike any civil engineering position I've seen.

I'd to ask you some more questions about civil engineering.

1. What drew you to the field of civil engineering instead of environmental or another field of engineering?
2. A lot of environmental engineering jobs I've seen involve water and waste management; could an Environmental Engineer do Stormwater Engineering?
3. My mom is also an engineer within the aerospace/defense industry and has faced some discrimination in the office because she is one of the few females. What have your experiences as a woman in the field been like?
4. Do you know of any other environmental or civil engineers that I could get into contact with? I'd really love to learn as much as I can about the fields before I start taking classes in a certain specialty. And, I'd really like to interview as many people as I can

Thank you very much for your time! I appreciate your help!

Sincerely,

Madeline
posted by Madeline, Yorba Linda, CA. on February 28, 2014

Answer by Morgan Lynch

Madeline-

Thank you for reaching out to me.  I have attempted to answer your questions below, please let me know if you have any additional questions.  I wish you nothing but luck in your engineering studies.

1. What drew you to the field of civil engineering instead of environmental or another field of engineering?  Someone once told me if you look at something, say a fan, and wonder how it works you should be a mechanical engineer.  I never wondered that, so I got into civil engineering.  I am passionate about the environment, but was told that a civil engineer can work as an environmental engineer but not all environmental engineers can do civil work.  I did not want to limit myself since engineering is everything around us.  Like you noticed, what I do is related to stormwater engineering.  I just stumbled into this field and so happy I did.  You never know where life, your career will take you so be open and try not to limit yourself or focus on one thing while in college.  Learn as much as you can in your undergrad studies.

2. A lot of environmental engineering jobs I've seen involve water and waste management; could an Environmental Engineer do Stormwater Engineering?  In my experience, I have only hired civil engineers.  Not to say I would not hire an environmental but I would look for a candidate that has taken hydrology, hydraulics and maybe another water related course.

3. My mom is also an engineer within the aerospace/defense industry and has faced some discrimination in the office because she is one of the few females. What have your experiences as a woman in the field been like?  My experiences have been mostly positive.  I felt that I was one of the few women engineers while in college.  That experience prepared me for working in a male dominated field.  I tend to enjoy working more at firms that have women in leadership positions.  However, you do notice it more at conferences and professional organizations.  I have been fortunate to work with talented women throughout my career and I am always excited when a young woman shows interest in engineering.  We need more of them!

4. Do you know of any other environmental or civil engineers that I could get into contact with? I'd really love to learn as much as I can about the fields before I start taking classes in a certain specialty. And, I'd really like to interview as many people as I can.  I would continue to use this site, however I do know some environmental engineers and will reach out to them on your behalf.  If you don’t mind I can just send them the questions you sent me.

Thank you!
Morgan