Navigating the Flow – A Day in the Life of a Water/Wastewater Engineer

Welcome to a glimpse into the daily routine of JEO Water/Wastewater Project Engineer Sarah Nguyen, where business meets technical prowess and community service. In this profession, every day is an opportunity to improve lives through engineering.

Morning Routine: A Cup of Coffee and To-Do Lists

The day starts early, with a fresh cup of coffee in hand. Armed with a notebook filled with to-do lists and an Outlook calendar, priorities are set to identify the tasks requiring immediate attention. With a clear plan in mind, Sarah begins her morning.

Calculations and Collaboration

A significant portion of the day is dedicated to working on various projects. This entails complex design calculations, markups, specifications, and cost estimates. As a project engineer, Sarah collaborates closely with other engineers to create plans that meet the requirements of each project. This involves coordinating with senior staff to ensure all aspects of the project align seamlessly, and Sarah knows she's never alone if she has a question. The team is always willing to lend their expertise when needed.

Partnering with other departments is also essential for project success. Working closely with experts from different areas ensures a well-rounded approach to problem-solving. The exchange of ideas and insights helps projects move forward smoothly and minimizes the need for rework. Everyone's expertise comes together like pieces of a puzzle to create a comprehensive solution.

Team Meetings and Client Interactions

Collaboration is a cornerstone of the work done at JEO. Regular team meetings keep everyone on the same page, fostering open communication and ensuring that design decisions are relayed across the board. Work isn't confined to the office either. Often, Sarah is out in the field, conducting construction observations or meeting with clients. Meeting with clients allows Sarah to review project progress, identify areas for improvement, and ensure that the client's needs are met effectively. It is also a great way to see the work happening first-hand to understand further challenges that could arise.

Why Water/Wastewater

While all projects matter, water treatment holds a special place in Sarah's heart. The complexity of the components involved, from designing pumps to determining chemical feed and electrical needs, captivates her. It's a blend of engineering and project management, where she sees her ideas come to life while enhancing water quality for communities.

One project that has significantly impacted her career is the David City Water Treatment Plant. The project's complexity, transitioning from an existing treatment system to a new one while keeping the community serviced, allowed her to showcase her problem-solving skills. The hands-on experience of working with clients and contractors deepened her understanding of project coordination and design.

Fulfillment in Making an Impact

Being a water/wastewater project engineer isn't just a job; it's a vocation with a purpose. What Sarah loves most is the "chance to work with communities and make a real impact on their water quality and infrastructure. Even seemingly small projects can significantly improve the quality of life for the people in those communities, and that's incredibly rewarding."

More about Sarah

After graduating from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln with her civil engineering degree, Sarah joined Teach for America for two years to serve as a 6th-grade math teacher in an underserved school district. This opportunity taught her a lot of skills, such as communication, organization, and networking, that she applies to her current work.

Sarah is also a key leader of our Young Professionals Program at JEO. Sarah works with young professionals within JEO and provides them access to tailored mentorship, training workshops, and networking opportunities, creating a space where young professionals can comfortably learn and grow. 

Sarah engages in continuous learning to stay at the forefront of her field and informed about the latest trends and technologies. She's an active NWEA and NS AWWA member, attending meetings, conferences, and professional development lectures. Sarah is also the Chair of the Young Professionals Committee, which plans educational and networking opportunities for YP's in the industry.

And there you have it, a glimpse into the day and journey of Sarah Nguyen, a passionate water/wastewater project engineer making waves of positive change.