Cheeta Soga

Cheeta Soga

Nitsch Engineering
Boston, MA, United States
Cheeta Soga
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Cheeta designs "green" building projects - those that lessen the impact of humans on the environment. Much of her work focuses on protecting and recycling water resources. For example, she figures out how to reuse rainwater to save on tap water usage, and how to treat and filter rainwater naturally, by using different types of soil and native plants. Favorite project: "I worked on the National Palace Museum in Chiayi, Taiwan. The region has huge amounts of rainfall during the summer monsoon and drought the rest of the year. Our design included two artificial lakes. We had to manage rainfall to prevent flooding during the rainy season and to avoid having the lakes dry up during the rest of the year." What got her interested: Cheeta liked math, science, and learning about the environment, but she didn't know what engineering was until she entered college. Her sister thought she would love the field because engineers get to tackle practical problems. Engineering and travel: Her work has also taken her to numerous states, including Hawaii. And, on her own, she has backpacked throughout Asia and Southeast Asia. Where she's from: Cheeta grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Education: B.A.Sc. in civil engineering, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada; M.S. in civil engineering, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. Hobbies: She loves softball, volleyball, golf, and ice hockey, and she enjoys baking for friends and family.
  • I am willing to serve as science fair judge or other temporary volunteer at a local school.
Answers by Cheeta Soga

Hi Erica!

Nice to see an email from a fellow Canadian.

As an Engineer, you always have the opportunity to get involved in Engineering outreach. I mentor high school students in an annual model bridge contest that is organized by the local chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (there is also a Canadian Society for Civil Engineering). There are countless other ways you can get involved such as volunteering at local schools to teach students about the field of Civil Engineering and/or helping at special activities that may be organized by a local or national engineering society and/or science group.

As for what to do about Physics... I would study and do the best that you can. Physics was not my strongest area of science either. But it is important to the study of Civil Engineering, so hopefully you can stick with it. I found that it started to make more sense after seeing the principles a few times over (first in high school, and then again in university).

Finally, about working inside vs. outside... with a Civil Engineering background, you can do either. If you prefer to work inside, you may want to focus on engineering design rather than construction. I spend the majority of my time inside of the office working on the design or coordination of projects (I rarely get my hands dirty). Occasionally, I will venture out to a site to review construction progress and/or meet with a contractor in the field. I also meet with clients, consultants, and city/town agencies at different stages of the project either to discuss the project or work out issues that cross between the different disciplines (architecture, structure, landscaping, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, etc.) - usually these meetings are in an office.

Hope this helps answer your questions! Good luck in making your decision!