Interview With Laureen Abustan, Civil and Environmental Project Engineer
Laureen Abustan is a water and wastewater project engineer. She joined Tetra Tech in March 2018 and applies her expertise in water, wastewater, environmental engineering, site development, and stormwater capture and reuse on projects in Los Angeles, California. Laureen has a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and planning and a master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering. We talked with Laureen as part of our #TtInspires campaign celebrating the passion of Tetra Tech employees. Follow #TtInspires on social media for more stories.
What originally attracted you to Tetra Tech?
I always had an interest in the environment. I previously worked for a land development company but wanted to return to my true passion for water and the environment. Tetra Tech is one of the top civil engineering companies and is ranked #1 in Water by Engineering News-Record, and I knew I wanted to make a change by working for a large company with more resources and experienced professionals. I reconnected with a former coworker on LinkedIn who was working for Tetra Tech. He connected me to a Tetra Tech recruiter who helped me land the job. I felt that I had a true connection with the team and found a great group of people who are my mentors now. Working with them has made me grateful that I took the leap to join Tetra Tech.
I am working in the field I am passionate about, and my interest in business development is encouraged. I am actively involved with professional organizations and networking with clients and colleagues. I have met people such as the Mayor of Los Angeles, councilmembers, and city commissioners.
Tell us about some of the projects you have worked on at Tetra Tech that have been the most inspirational to you.
I work on the Owens Lake project with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). I read about the history and politics of Owens Lake in environmental planning books in my college classes. Owens Lake was strategic in supplying water for the rapid development of Los Angeles; however, because of different laws and times, Owens Lake has become a dry lakebed. Years after learning about this lake, I was assigned to the project when I started with Tetra Tech. To be part of such an important and historical project is inspiring. We are doing good work by helping the environment, local community, and habitat by resolving the environmental issues.
As one of the largest public agencies in the United States, LADWP is a great client to work with; their teams are collaborative, understanding, and responsive. Their large-scale projects impact the city, county, and state.
What do you do outside of your work that you think makes a difference for today’s environment?
It has been ingrained in me to be aware of my water and electricity use and to recycle. I put these into practice and encourage family, friends, and coworkers to do the same at home and in the office.
I also try to inform people of issues in other countries. Living in California, we are fortunate to live in a place where the environment is important. Many other cities or countries are not as aware or as fortunate, and where clean water and sanitation are a luxury or privilege. The main reason why I became a civil and environmental engineer was the global need for clean water and sanitation. I have family in the Philippines, and while attending a study abroad program at the University of Philippines in Manila, I met people living on landfills. Many of them left their families in the provinces and moved to the city to find work but had nowhere else to live. I felt like I needed to do something about this. I am proud to be part of a company that works on global humanitarian and social justice projects with clients like the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). I hope to have the opportunity to participate in such important international development work.