Profiles: Young Engineers

Profiles: Young Engineers

Name: Stacey Lamer, of Bonner Springs, Kansas.
Designation: Engineering Intern.
Employer: Delich, Roth & Goodwillie, P.A.
Education: B.S. Chemical Engineering, University of Kansas.
Job Responsibilities or Projects: Biofuel production from waste oil and grease; combined sewer overflow elimination; hydrocarbon containment systems; and wastewater odor control.
NSPE Affiliation: Kansas Society of Professional Engineers (KSPE), Topeka Chapter.

Q. Stacey, as a relatively new member of NSPE (2001) and secretary in your local chapter, what suggestions do you have for Society leadership in terms of attracting more young engineers to the membership ranks? What attracts you, personally, to a professional organization?

A. Networking, networking, networking . . . As a young engineer (and citizen) I have come to realize how important it is to participate in state and local community activities. However, I need help in learning how to become more involved in these programs and offer support to the community. KSPE provides me with the tools to be informed about governmental issues (legislative reporting); involved in providing technical guidance to the community (legislative lobbying); active in recruiting young minds to math, science, and engineering (Discover 'E' and MATHCOUNTS); and mentored by individuals from all facets of engineering.

Q. You are currently an engineering intern following the licensure path. What do you see as the major advantage(s) in PE licensure for yourself? For other young engineers?

A. For all engineers, career changes are almost certain. Family obligations, a fluctuating economy, job dissatisfaction, or simply the need for a change can result in a career move. Without the accomplishment of licensure, career advancements are limited.

Q. Some of your past engineering experience has included both process and project management and continuous improvement for larger companies, primarily in the industrial sector. You're also currently working on an industrial pretreatment project. Would you ever consider a career move toward industry?

A. As an engineer in the industry field, I have enjoyed the daily intensity of problem solving, the measurement of production success, and the fulfillment of managing a successful team. I feel my problem-solving and managerial skills were greatly improved in the industrial environment, and a career move to consulting has certainly developed my design-engineering skills. My recent involvement in an industrial pretreatment project has proven that a combination of these talents can be very beneficial. An industrial career that combines both engineering and management could be very rewarding and lucrative.

Q. Career goals play an important role in the professional development of all engineers, but particularly young engineers, who are just beginning to forge a career path. What networking or mentoring opportunities are available to help guide you up the career ladder?

A. My employer, Delich, Roth & Goodwillie, has provided me the opportunity to participate in several organizations, including NSPE, KSPE, the Water Environment Federation, and its state affiliate, the Kansas Water Environment Association. This experience, coupled with the ambition to become involved, can only yield career advancement.

Q. At the local and state level, you have participated in various NSPE programs and activities that encourage K-12 students to consider engineering as a career choice. What have been your specific roles in these efforts?

A. My employer participates in NSPE's Discover 'E' and MATHCOUNTS programs. Discover 'E' has allowed our company to form a relationship with an area middle school. This relationship has evolved into participation in career day, technical young women, and gifted student programs. The students are very enthusiastic and ask many technical questions, too many sometimes. (I worry about the questions I can't answer!) The MATHCOUNTS program exhibits the extreme talent of the students, in addition to the dedicated support from the teachers. Both programs are quite exciting and rewarding for the participants-and the volunteers.

Q. Now that you're out of college, working as an engineer in the real world, what recommendations would you offer to the undergraduate engineering program that would better prepare graduates for the workplace?

A. It's important for an engineering student to be involved in parent organizations such as NSPE and the Society of Women Engineers and to participate in any available internship programs. My undergraduate degree prepared me technically for the workplace, but organizational involvement and work experience showed me the importance of communication and organizational skills.

Q. Looking 10 years ahead, do you see yourself in an engineering management or supervisory role? Engaged in laboratory research and development? Continuing your experiences in engineering design and project management?

A. I plan to continue in consulting engineering, attain my PE in environmental engineering, and return to school and enroll in a master's of business administration program. My work experience in public service, wastewater treatment plant operations, chemical laboratory operations, industrial manufacturing, and private consulting, hopefully, will offer many opportunities to me in the future. Right now, I thoroughly enjoy my current employed position and plan to continue in the design-engineering field.

Q. What one piece of advice would you give to a young engineer just out of college, starting his or her career?

A. Join an organization that will allow you to network with people in your field.