Recognizing Women Engineers of HR Green
Despite making up nearly half of the U.S. workforce, women are still vastly underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workforce. According to census data from 2021, women engineers account for only 15% of all U.S. engineers. The Women’s Engineering Society created international Women in Engineering Day to support and inspire more young women to become engineers, scientists, and business leaders.
HR Green is proud to recognize International Women in Engineering Day. To celebrate, we spoke with several women engineers from our teams.
Cami Liu, PE – Transportation Project Engineer
My interest in engineering started from the very beginning in high school. I have always had an interest in doing design, either for clothing design or infrastructure. Back then, I was a foreign exchange, and it was my host mom that told me about being an engineer. She’s a computer engineer. She told me maybe engineering would be great for me because of my love of math and design.
I’ve been with HR Green since August 2018. I have been working on many different projects as I’m always trying to learn new things. I want to improve my skill and not only focus on one area. I would say I’ve learned more in my experience with working with HR Green than back in school.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Everybody makes mistakes, so don’t be afraid. You just need to be ready to correct yourself. In a good team environment, other people shouldn’t judge you just because you ask questions. If you don’t understand, just ask.
Stacy Woodson, PE – Environmental Services Technical Director
My passion for engineering began back in elementary school. The space shuttle program was a big deal. We were always watching the shuttle lift off on television during school. And naturally, I wanted to be an astronaut. When I shared that with teachers, they suggested that I consider engineering. During my studies, I discovered a real passion for trying to keep the environment healthy, clean, and safe so we can enjoy it for many generations to come.
While HR Green is a consulting firm and is trying to help our clients obtain their goals and achieve their objectives, we can do it in a sustainable way that helps preserve the environment or helps mitigate the impacts of what we’re doing. That’s where I find my passion and interest in trying to find a win-win situation to help the environment but also help our clients and communities build the projects they need to build.
As engineers, we can be a little more introverted and shy. My advice to everybody is just to come out of your shell a little bit, introduce yourselves, take opportunities, and look for opportunities when your team is looking for volunteers or needs help with something. Raise your hand and volunteer. Even though it might be out of your comfort zone, those opportunities to learn something new and grow will benefit you in your career.
Kyla Jacobsen – Water Business Development Leader
Finding my passion for engineering was an accident, actually. My goal was to go to medical school, and when I didn’t get into a medical program, I began working in pharmaceutical laboratories. That’s when I saw an ad for a municipality looking for a chemist. My brain immediately thought the position would be working with the police department to do drug testing. It turns out it was for the water department. I dove in and quickly discovered and later accomplished my goal to be the water utility director.
There are many opportunities, whether chemical, mechanical, electrical, or computer science in engineering. I think that not exploring them is a disservice when exploring your passions. If you are a good problem solver with a technical or mechanical mind. When exploring careers, there are ‘shiny’ things, but that’s not necessarily going to be a sustainable path. If you want to make a difference in the world, engineering jobs will certainly do that.
HR Green does it right. They value diversity in the workplace and women in engineering. The company does a fantastic job of promoting women and making them viable partners in the workforce.
Bridget Osborn, PE, CFM – Water Resources Project Manager
In a sense, I grew up with a family of engineers. My dad was always trying to make things work with the things he had. Then my siblings and I always tried to build tree houses, go-karts, and swimming pools all summer long. We constantly got creative as kids constructing things. Going on to study science was a natural fit.
However, it was when I was working road construction to pay for college, I got a glimpse of the importance of water utility. After a big rain event, the city streets were still flooded. The storm drains weren’t clearing the water fast enough. I thought to myself, “someone needs to fix that.” Turns out it was a very large rain event, and the system was not designed for that unusual amount of water.
Regardless, my interest in geological engineering grew, eventually transitioning to my path in water resources. This department allows me to collaborate with the other sectors of engineering. Basically, anywhere there is water or it rains (so, everywhere), I help on projects with transportation or treatment plants.
When exploring engineering, it’s important to have confidence. When starting out, you don’t really know what you’re doing. It can be a struggle, but that’s where your confidence comes in. Trust your work and invest in communicating with others you’re working with. Have the confidence to ask questions.
Most importantly, don’t give up. It is a tough industry and can be a demanding job. Remember this is something you’re really passionate about. No matter the struggles, tomorrow is another day and it changes every day. You’re never going to be stuck in a rut for too long. Just keep on going and be positive.
Megan Anderson, PE – Lead Transportation Engineer
When I was young, I wanted to be an architect or a planner. I realized you needed a portfolio and to take lots of art classes. While I think outside the box and come up with creative solutions, I am not a creative person by nature. That’s when I knew architecture would not go well for me. After several discussions with guidance counselors, I landed on civil engineering.
It’s interesting as engineers; we all graduated with the same degree. We all went through the same type of schooling and took the same test to get our licenses. But I wouldn’t even know how to open a file that the water division was working on, for example. It really shows the paths to go down are endless in engineering.
However, engineering can be seen as an overwhelming industry to get into. Maybe it’s not as family-friendly, engineers work a ton of hours, but that’s a misconception. You make your career what you want. There will be times when hours get heavy during projects, but it’s not constant. For women engineers, if you’re feeling like you can’t do it all because this is an aggressive field, remember that it’s your choice. It can be aggressive if you want it to be, but it doesn’t have to be.
At HR Green, we are passionate about building communities and improving lives. As one of the nation’s longest-operating engineering firms, we’ve not only seen the changes in our world but been a part of them. Our teams collaborate across geographies and markets to provide engineering, technical, and management solutions in both the private and public sectors across a number of industries.
HR Green invests in career opportunities from all management levels to internships and scholarships for the next generation of engineers. We invite you to learn more about the career opportunities at HR Green today!