Interview With Carol Nissen, Environmental Engineer
Carol Nissen is a professional engineer and geologist who specializes in brownfields redevelopment. She joined Tetra Tech in 1997 and applies her years of experience to the environmental management market. Carol first earned a B.S. in Geology from the University of Illinois and then returned to school to earn her M.S. in Environmental Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology after her inspiring first job out of college. We spoke with Carol as part of our #WomenInSTEM campaign to not only celebrate our brilliant women engineers but also to raise their profiles to encourage those who aspire to become engineers and to work in STEM. Follow #WomenInStem on social media for more stories.
What do you like about working at Tetra Tech?
I like working at Tetra Tech because of the amazing people. Tetra Tech has a myriad of experts in many aspects of the environmental field. Everyone here is friendly and engaging, and I can reach out to anyone to bounce around ideas or ask for their help on projects. I learn something new every day from my coworkers.
What inspired you to pursue a career in engineering?
My first job out of college was at an engineering firm. I was a geologist in the hazardous waste division and I worked on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) contracts. The other division at that company was wastewater and water distribution engineering. I worked on a variety of projects for both divisions because of my strong math and science background. I wanted to learn more about the engineering field based on my company’s work so I went back to school and earned my master’s degree in engineering.
How can we encourage female students to pursue a career in engineering?
If you like math and science, there is an engineering field for you. If you like to be efficient and solve problems, you will like engineering. Engineering is such a diverse field with so many options including civil, electrical, computer, biomedical, aeronautical, ceramic, and more!
What is the greatest advice you could pass onto women who aspire to have a career in engineering?
Believe in yourself and your abilities—each person has their own individual skill set. Don’t define yourself by other’s benchmarks; there is no single model. Your individuality is what will enhance your career and your projects. Find your passion and apply it to your daily life and job. Don’t be intimidated out there and hold your head high.
What do you look forward to in the years to come in the engineering field?
The most amazing thing to me is that every day there is a new specialty or technology being developed in engineering. There are new discoveries, new approaches, and fresh ideas. It’s a vast and expanding field.