What do you do?
How do you get water to your homes? How's your building or the City's storm system protected from flooding during heavy rainfall? How can we access the best spots in town on a wheelchair? How do you bike across the City? Civil Engineers build the vast network of utilities. We manage the stormwater runoff to keep houses and cities safe from any flooding. Civil Engineers make sure that pedestrian infrastructure is in place and is ADA compliant. We connect places.
Why did you choose this field?
As a child, I asked a lot of questions - Why do tsunamis occur? How is the glass of Medak Cathedral stained? How do the circle sauce dollops settle as squares? Why do tectonic plates move? Will we have flying cars by 2020?
It seemed natural for me to gravitate towards engineering, and to Civil engineering, due to my fascination towards infrastructure and design. My parents were my first role models - they'd patiently answer my questions and would make sure I always had something to read. My dad invested in my first set of encyclopedias while most of my friends got their first computer.
I have a Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering from University of Houston and I currently work for a Civil Engineering firm in Austin.
What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?
Growing up in India for first 20 years of my life, I had big dreams; to go to Grad School, to be a Civil Engineer, to be able to contribute to the community I live in. At some instances - when I got my first medal as a National Athlete, when I received a scholarship to pursue my Masters and when I worked on my first Affordable Housing project - I wish I told my younger me that she has everything it takes and never to doubt the results of hard work and perseverance.
Why do you love working in STEM?
STEM not only helps me stay creative and make a difference in the community but also contributes to my everyday thinking and decision-making. It makes me realize that work and life are not two completely independent events but very much intertwined. I wake up looking forward to the schools and affordable housing I help build; there's a great deal of satisfaction in working on projects that create value to the community and help realize the dream of City’s sustainable future.
Best advice for next generation?
Be bold. You CAN make a difference. Do not feel discouraged by whatever comes your way. Read a lot. Ask questions. Build something. Assess frequently on where you are at and where you'd love to be. Get a mentor. Be inspired.
Inspo quote / fun fact / role model
Carl Sagan on "Pale Blue Dot"
Reference: Pale Blue Dot is a photograph of planet Earth taken on February 14, 1990, by the Voyager 1 space probe.
"Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."