Roxanne Clarke is a remediation engineer who joined Tetra Tech in 2000 and applies her years of experience to the environmental management market. Roxanne has fostered a passion for the environment since she was a little girl and obtained a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering from Roger Williams University. We spoke with Roxanne as part of our #INWED19 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?

The two things I like best about working at Tetra Tech are the variety of projects and flexibility in my schedule. I have had the opportunity to work on many different types of projects and proposals throughout the United States with a variety of disciplines across multiple operating units. I’ve worked on soil, groundwater, and sediment remediation projects at active and inactive military and manufacturing facilities, former mines, and on rivers due to oil spills. I frequently work on several different projects each week, which keeps me challenged.

While I work full time in the office during regular business hours, I have the flexibility to work at home as needed—sometimes for an entire day, other times early in the morning or in the evening once my children have gone to bed. This allows me to fulfill my work responsibilities while managing my household with my husband, have dinner with my family each night, serve as my daughter’s Girl Scout leader, and attend plenty of school functions.

What inspired you to pursue a career in engineering?

Growing up, I spent my summers on the beach in Cape May, New Jersey. When I was about 11 years old, I found syringes and other debris on the beach. I decided right then and there I wanted to work in a field where I could prevent and clean up damage to the environment. In addition, my dad is an engineer. He has been a great role model and was very encouraging as I decided on a college and major.

What is the greatest advice you could pass onto girls/female students who aspire to have a career in engineering?

The greatest advice I can give to female students is to not give up when people or situations are discouraging. Results of my entrance test for high school indicated I would not be a strong science student. I went on to take and excel in every science course my high school offered. During my freshman year in college, one professor for two of my courses told me and my very few fellow female engineering majors classmates that women did not belong in engineering. I was stunned that in the year 1993, a professor felt that way and dared to say it out loud to us. I was also surprised and disappointed to find that some of my male counterparts felt the same way. While I was discouraged, his statement made me work harder—not to prove to him that I most certainly did belong in the engineering field, but to prove to myself I belonged there. I am proud to report I have not encountered this treatment at Tetra Tech.

How do you define your success as an engineer?

I define my success as an engineer by the number of projects and proposals I have worked on over the years and the workload I typically carry. While there are some projects I have requested to work on due to the scope, there have been many for which my support has been requested. Some of these projects and proposals contain scope items I have little to no experience with. But, my support is requested based on the organizational, writing, and communication skills I’ve developed over my career and my ability to work on problem-solving teams encompassing multiple disciplines and backgrounds.

What projects are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the sediment cleanup projects I have supported—an oil spill in a Michigan river, cleanup of sediment contamination caused by historical submarine and ship maintenance activities in a Connecticut river, cleanup of a Maryland creek and cove adjacent to a manufacturing facility, and the cleanup of sediment contamination in a Rhode Island bay caused by historical shipyard operations maintenance. This work is more challenging and rewarding than I could have imagined as that 11-year-old girl on the beach.