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Colin Voiles, WTAMU Environmental Engineering Graduate FA2019

 

Colin
Home town: Amarillo
Graduating High School: Homeschooled
Year you first came to WTAMU: 2011
First class you attended at WTAMU: Intermediate Accounting 1
Current Situatio: Currently a full time grauate student at WTAMU, Canyon, Tx. 


The WTAMU environmental engineering faculty asked Colin Voiles about his experience in the WTAMU environmental engineering program for the time that he spent in the program. Colin’s journey to environmental engineering was different from some. He began his undergraduate career exploring other professions including Accounting and Computer Science. Most of his academic credit towards his environmental engineering degree he completed at WTAMU. Beginning 
in Fall 2014, he made a full transition from an interest in Computer Science to Environmental Engineering. Here are a few questions that we asked Colin about his time at WTAMU and what finishing his degree has meant to him since graduation. 

What made you decide to come to WTAMU in the first place? 

It was close to home, affordable, and had a variety of programs to choose from. It was a good fit, and I am glad enrolled as the variety of programs and options included environmental engineering. 

Why did you choose to major in environmental engineering? 

I was drifting in my original major, unhappy with it when Steve Sellers (Experiential Learning Coordinator at WT Career Services) who was emailing students that the Department of Agriculture giving a recruitment presentation contacted me. I decided to go out of curiosity. At the presentation, the Department talked about their current projects, which included better water management practices and why they needed engineers. I decided to go into environmental engineering as I already believed that society needed to better manage and use their air and water resources and the presentation gave me the push to jump into the field. 

How has the WT environmental engineering degree helped you in your professional practice? 

As I have not gone into the professional workplace yet, I have mainly been focusing on the graduate program. Getting the Master’s degree will help as large companies want their engineers not only licensed but also have a Master’s as well. 

What was your favorite memory from your time at WTAMU? 

Currently, my favorite memory was during Senior Design night when I took Senior Design (EVEG 4380). Our group had to design, build, and install a water treatment system for a ranch’s drinking water supply system. That night was the first night that they had decided to judge the projects based on effort, difficulty, and usefulness. My group came in second winning the “Most beneficial to the Texas Panhandle” Award. I was amazed that we won given that all of the projects were sound and beneficial to the Panhandle. 

What was the hardest class you ever took at WT and why? 

Senior Design (EVEG 4380). My group was told to create the water treatment system for the ranch and the ranch had no designs of their pump system or water system. We had to estimate the entire thing based on what little information we could get from the system (both from ranch staff and by measurement) and hope it worked. It was a nightmare of a project as we had people’s health to worry about as well since the treatment system was for their drinking water. 

What was the best class you ever took at WT and why? 

Senior Design 2 (EVEG 4380). While it was a nightmare, it was appropriate for a capstone course. It showed you how projects in real life can go and that it is rarely as formulaic as it seems in the classroom. 

Now that you are graduated, what do you tell people about the value of environmental engineering in our everyday world? 

I tell them it is needed as our resources are limited and we need to manage them better and have better recycling practices. A common response is that people understand the situation, but don’t know how to address it due to a lack of dedicated recycling centers and places to drop off recyclables, the continuous need for water for their homes, how to improve water treatment, and how to deal with the waste that needs to be landfilled or stored away. They look to environmental engineers, and government leaders to come up with those solutions. However, we need to tell them that the individual can help by speaking up about these issues and learning about them. 

Where do you hope you will be 10 years from now? 

I hope to have my Master’s and be working in a small environmental firm helping the community. That will be enough for me. We can’t forget to help the local community while working on the big picture

Paige Miller, WTAMU, Environmental Engineering Graduate FA2018

EnvironmentalCareer
Home town: Amarillo
Graduating High School: Caprock High School 2008
Year you first came to WTAMU:  Fall 2016
First class you attended at WTAMU Intro to Engineering
Current Situation: Roger's Group Inc, Amarillo TX

The WTAMU environmental engineering faculty asked Paige Miller about her experience in the WTAMU environmental engineering program for the time that she spent in the program. Paige originally got several years of credit at Amarillo College (AC) before coming to WT in Fall 2016 to join the environmental engineering program. She was a leader at AC and then became a leader at WT. She was an officer in the American Association of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (AAEES) student chapter and Engineers with Borders (EWB). Paige also was awarded a scholarship at WTAMU which made it so that the money from both scholarship and student job made it so she had not student debt when finishing her environmental engineering degree.  

Here are a few questions that we asked Paige about her time at WTAMU and what finishing his degree has meant to him since graduation. 

What made you decide to come to WTAMU in the first place? 

I started my college career at Amarillo College. Once completing my associate’s degree there, transferring to WTAMU was the most practical option for me. WT had a program I was interested in, it was close by, I could still work my current job, and I wouldn’t be drowning in debt afterward. 

Why did you choose to major in environmental engineering? 

This is a good question. When I started college, I did not know what I wanted to study or what field I wanted to be in. I did know that I liked math and science. After my first couple of semesters in STEM courses, talking to professors and job shadowing I decided to continue my education in environmental engineering. I felt this fit my desire to explore the math and sciences I enjoyed and would set me on a path where I could use my education to help people. 

How has the WT Environmental Engineering degree helped you in your professional practice? 

I believe the many skills I learned and developed while at WTAMU help me in my professional practice, and most of them are non-technical. The skills I value most are experiences at WT that have helped me to develop in leadership, to see the importance of community, and to increase the impact you can have. 

What was your favorite memory from your time at WTAMU? 

My favorite memories are with the team I had on my senior design project and my involvement with Engineers without Borders. The people I worked with were amazing and the project was something I am still very proud to have been involved in. 

What was the hardest class you ever took at WT and why? 

Hardest class I had while at WT would probably be Fluid Mechanics (EVEG 3304), because this was my first class with Dr Howell. Ha ha! 

But on a serious note, I struggled a lot in Fluid Mechanics. I think it had to do with Dr Howells style of teaching, and the confidence that I had in myself as a student at that time. He makes students think for themselves, which I don’t think other professors had really asked me to do prior to having Dr Howell as an instructor. He also left projects open ended so that as a student you can direct them and explore the way you wanted.  Afterwards, I really appreciated the struggle because it helped me to find confidence in myself in the academic aspect. 

What was the best class you ever took at WT and why? 

Best class was Intro to Environmental Engineering (EVEG 2331), because it was really the basics of all the other classes afterward. 

Now that you are graduated, what do you tell people about the value of environmental engineering in our everyday world? 

Sometimes people do not consider the everyday conveniences we have because of environmental engineering. So getting to explain landfill design or water/waste water treatment to people always excites me. Where would we be without this stuff?! 

Where do you hope you will be 10 years from now? 

In ten years, I hope to have my own engineering firm!

Caitlyn Allen, WTAMU Environmental Engineering Graduate FA2017

Caitlyn
Home town: Cedar Park, TX
Graduating High School:

Leander High School 2014

Year you first came to WTAMU: Fall 2014
First class you attended at WTAMU: Chemistry
Current Situation: Staff engineer at Plummer, a water and infrastructure engineering firm in Fort Worth, TX. 

The WTAMU environmental engineering faculty asked Caitlyn Cecchini about her experience in the WTAMU environmental engineering program for the time that she spent in the program. Caitlyn enrolled in WTAMU from her freshmen year beginning in 2014. She was a student athlete in track and cross-country during much of her time on campus which made for a very busy but generally very rewarding student life. In addition to not only finishing the BS in Environmental Engineering at WTAMU, she also became our program’s first graduate. For that fact alone, she will always be remembered well amongst all College of Engineering faculty. 

Here are a few questions that we asked Caitlyn about her time at WTAMU and what finishing his degree has meant to him since graduation. 

What made you decide to come to WTAMU in the first place? 

I knew I wanted to attend a school with a respected engineering program so when I received a scholarship offer from WT to run cross country and track I was excited to be able to pursue both my academic and athletic interests. 

Why did you choose to major in environmental engineering? 

I began my career at WT as a civil engineering major but after taking several of the classes, it became obvious that my interests lied elsewhere. During my sophomore year at WT, the environmental engineering program was established, and I was given the opportunity to be one of the first students in the program. After taking the entry-level classes for the engineering program, I knew that I was more interested in the environmental aspects of engineering.  

How has the WT environmental engineering degree helped you in your professional practice? 

This degree opened the door to a great internship with Enviro-Ag Engineering (Amarillo, TX) that taught me a lot about how professional engineers in my field approach practical problems. After working more with air modeling at Enviro-Ag, my interests in other aspects of environmental engineering grew. This interest led me to pursue my current job at Plummer, a firm focused on many aspects of water. 

What was your favorite memory from your time at WTAMU? 

Wow, there are so many great memories to only choose one favorite. At my time at WT, I got to be part of an athletic team which taught me so many important lessons. I got to meet some of the best friends that I have, I got to help pioneer an engineering program where in most of my late classes I was the only student, and lastly I got to meet my husband. At WT I got to pull all-nighters where everyone was so tired no one could quit laughing, I got to travel to places I had never been before, and I got to meet some of the most incredible, most caring people that have helped shape me into who I am today. 

What was the hardest class you ever took at WT and why? 

Either Chemistry (CHEM 1412) or Environmental Modeling (EVEG 3361). I told Dr. Howell before and I will never go back on this: the only explanation for how these environmental model things work/make sense is magic. There may have been more difficult classes time/work wise, but these are what stick out to me as being the hardest. 

What was the best class you ever took at WT and why? 

I loved all of the classes dealing with water. Fluid Mechanics (EVEG 3304) and Hydrology (EVEG 3411) came so easily to me because I just enjoyed everything that I learned. That being said, Senior Design (EVEG 4380) was also an amazing opportunity, it was awesome being able to work with different disciplines and be able to learn “what the real world would be like”. Senior Design honestly taught me so many things that I was able to bring into my career. Plus, it is always fun working in a team. 

Now that you are graduated, what do you tell people about the value of environmental engineering in our everyday world? 

Working for Enviro-Ag and Plummer has opened my eyes to the behind-the-scenes impact that environmental engineers have on society. Their work serves humanity and protects our planet. I have had the opportunity to learn about how some of the unlikely industrial settings can cause air pollution do and how to mitigate the effects. I have learned how the water we use everyday is transported from the facilities that keep the water clean and ready for drinking. And I have learned how water is cleaned and prepared for use. That being said, I have learned how humanity can take for granted things we simply expect to always be around, when actuality they are a privilege. 

Where do you hope you will be 10 years from now? 

I hope to be working for a highly regarded engineering firm that values quality, integrity, and shows commitment and compassion towards their employees. I also hope that the company I will be working for will support family values. Lastly, I hope to have both my FE (Fundamentals of Engineering Exam pass certificate) and PE (Professional Engineer License, possibly in multiple states).