Day in the Life of Andrea DuMont

Water Resources Engineer, CH2M / Jacobs
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"I wake up with second-day hair, sleep-reading my emails and the Google news bulletin. My home-at-home is a 700 square-foot box suspended above 6th Street in Austin. I'm occasionally traveling, but today, I lay in bed, holding my popsocket trying not to drop my phone on my face. It's raining outside which is a perfectly ironic setting for my ..."

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Day in the Life of Andrea DuMont

PostedTuesday, March 13, 2018 at 7:38 AM

Second-day hair, blackeye on blonde roast, leg day.

I wake up with second-day hair, sleep-reading my emails and the Google news bulletin. My home-at-home is a 700 square-foot box suspended above 6th Street in Austin. I'm occasionally traveling, but today, I lay in bed, holding my popsocket trying not to drop my phone on my face. It's raining outside which is a perfectly ironic setting for my presentation on drought resiliency.


Sometimes I find out things happening in the water industry by the news.

As I get ready, I receive an IM from an entry-level engineer in one of our Texas offices. She will be filling in for me at a client meeting today. I give her a skype call while I curl my hair. We discuss open submittals--documents that our construction contractors have disseminated to us for review. The contractors take our specifications/drawings (our framework for how the work should be done based on our design) and submit exactly which products and methods they will use in construction. Our engineers then review these submittals and approve them before the contractor can get started on the work. It's a lot of paper pushing between engineers and contractors. It's not much to snapchat about but very necessary for high quality construction.


WFH aka Work From Hyatt.

One of my favorite parts of my job is the mobility and flexibility. My home-away-from-home is any Hilton, Hyatt, or Holiday Inn in a big city central business district or a tiny farming town, usually in the U.S. but not always. I am on the go. I head out the door after I say bye to my roommate, Zanzamittens, who will dutifully keep an eye on the birds all day. She also makes sure that one is unable to engineer their way into the foodbin. She's quality control, in that sense.

Well, I <em>was</em> reading about GIS modeling. Zanzi is making a statement.
Well, I was reading about GIS modeling. Zanzi is making a statement.

My street has local coffee shops with vegan food so I run in, shaking rainwater off my company-branded jacket (swag which I ordered for my team during a previous project. I spent way longer than I should have getting them designed just right). Today is a blackeye on blonde roast day. I take a conference call with my beats headphones on bluetooth. This call is to coordinate the leadership team managing an emergency program to ensure the safety and reliability of the stormwater drainage system in New Orleans. I contributed to the emergency project full-time for the past 6 months, so I maintain a few duties that I carry out remotely. This includes managing work that I've passed off to other employees, interacting with the client and their communications staff, and reviewing technical memos.

I head to the biosolids treatment plant facility to give my presentation as part of the Texas branch of the American Water Works Association (AWWA). Here, I have a chance to "network." I don't think of it as networking because that's a scary word. It's catching up with other people in the industry... some I've worked with before and some I'd love the chance to work with. If I hear any juicy news that might help position for more work and make us more well-rounded engineers, I text my coworkers to make sure they know about it. They usually do and wonder if I've been living in a box.

Yes, actually. A 700 square foott box.

Not cardboard but only because Zanzamittens didn't get her wish.

She'll take any box though. Even the litter box.
She'll take any box though. Even the litter box.

I explain ASR and Reuse to a crew of people who are industry experts in Austin. You can see some of it on my YouTube channel shortly!

Engineer's duties during well drilling include soil logging, verifying that the well is installed correctly, and performing analyses on the water

It feels valuable to be part of the narrative. To present in front of people who have the capacity to make change. They are city facility operators and engineers, they are planners for the next 100 years of water use in Austin, they're other consultants some of which I know from grad school and happy hours around town. As an engineer, there are plenty of sponsored happy hours to meet up with peers in the industry. After my presentation, I field some questions about the applicability of my specific technology.

(Groundwater engineering, which is a very tiny slice of water resources engineering, a type of civil engineering. Still with me?)

Somewhere in Austin.
Somewhere in Austin.

I head to a coffee shop to work for a few hours with the other hipsters. Mobility and flexibility. This time, not a blackeye on blonde roast. I would like to sleep tonight. I take a few conference calls through my headphones. One is with a client about the 60% design package for upgrades to water lines, valves, and water pumps. The other meeting is with our team of technical design experts out of one of our design offices. We're rehabilitating a dam that was designed for a 50-year lifespan about 60 years ago. After infrastructure failures that have been in the news lately, we want to make sure that we take lessons learned from those projects and design a versatile, dependable, cost-effective concept.

Onsite in New Orleans.
Onsite in New Orleans.

I track each hour I work so that I can accurately record it on my timesheet. Some hours get charged to my client's projects and some hours are picked up by my company budgets. Being a consultant is more like a salary employee. Flashback to my days at Donut Palace.

It's leg day. I run home to grab some yoga pants, my moped, and a protein shake dinner. I head to the downtown gym. Some months, these are hours to unwind and listen to podcasts. Some months, I have projects that I need to be accountable for even in the evenings. I'm the annoying person laying on the gym mat and answering emails. Sorry, not sorry. I make a mental note of how much time spent so that I can put it on my timesheet the next day if I end up doing a bunch of evening work.

One day, we boated around on a kayak analyzing the foundation of this dam.
One day, we boated around on a kayak analyzing the foundation of this dam.

Two days of field work. Weeks of going through the data and generating the report.
Two days of field work. Weeks of going through the data and generating the report.

Back at home, I post to my Instagram (@dumontandi). My side hustle is sharing my career with the world. My job has some boring days, some awesome days. I want to share it all. I also run an online group for women engineers that want to be involved in their communities and advocate for the causes they care about. Sometimes I remember to monitor and sometimes I get busy working or scrapbooking or reading. Zanzamittens knows when it's bedtime and snuggles in waiting for nighttime treat time.

It's been a long day.
It's been a long day.

Tomorrow? Third-day hair, latte with almond milk, hydraulic modeling in the office.

Filed Under Environment Day in A Life Earth Resources Day in the Life