Tetra Tech Recognizes International Women in Engineering Day 2021
Tetra Tech is supporting International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) 2021 on June 23rd to inspire girls and celebrate women in engineering careers. We are highlighting our female engineers from across our global operations and sharing how they are #EngineeringHeroes. By raising their profiles and supporting our Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Program, we hope to encourage those who aspire to become engineers by helping them understand the opportunities and career paths that the engineering sector can provide.
With the aim of empowering and supporting prospective female engineers, we invited some of our engineers to share with us their journey and how they continue to inspire the next generation of engineers even as they navigated the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Diversity and inclusion have always been among Tetra Tech’s core values. The diversity of thought that we achieve through true diversity of people enables us to better understand and provide innovative solutions for our clients’ most complex challenges. We celebrate the journeys of our female engineers of all backgrounds and stages of their careers. By leading with the stories of women in engineering at Tetra Tech, we continue to foster an inclusive environment where all voices are heard and all employees can thrive.
Follow our #INWED2021 and #WomenInSTEM campaigns to learn more about how our female engineers are Leading with Science® to create innovative solutions for our clients’ most difficult challenges.
Diana Keesiga, Director Engineering and Construction, Uganda Sanitation for Health Activity
I support design and construction of water and sanitation facilities that benefit health care facilities and schools. What excites me is seeing the facilities being correctly and consistently used and maintained, which is a persistent challenge in Uganda. Training and mentoring district stakeholders, communities, and schools to support clear understanding of what it takes to keep the services operating through their design life is what makes me wake up and go to work.
Claudia Vargas Arenas, Mechanical Engineer, High Performance Buildings Group
New York, New York, United States
I've been a member of the Architecture, Construction, and Engineering Mentor Program for the past five years, where we expose students to careers in the architecture, construction, and engineering industry. Each team is set up to emulate an actual design team, with students guided through a mock project by their mentors. Two of our female students changed their career paths from architecture to mechanical engineering, highlighting the impact of my contribution to the program.
Kayla Gagnon, Civil Engineer
Rochester, New York, United States
This past year I have worked on more than 20 solar projects to provide renewable energy. I also volunteer as president of the Engineers Without Borders Syracuse Professional Chapter, which has been working on the water distribution system to provide access to clean drinking water for community in Guatemala. Unfortunately, our site assessment trip was cancelled in March of last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we continued to work remotely and hosted virtual meetings to keep the project moving forward.
Dena Gabbassova, Geotechnical Engineer and Young Geotechnical Professionals Team Leader
I love being an engineer and embrace the challenges it provides me daily. However, I also recognize that for some young engineers, getting started in their early careers can be daunting. This is why I am proud to mentor young professionals and champion change for women in our industry as part of my career, helping the next generation of engineers get the support and guidance they need.
I am currently on the Australian Geomechanics Society Women in Engineering subcommittee, allowing me to share my experiences as a female engineer in our profession and champion positive change. With Tetra Tech’s support, I have recently been promoted to a team leader for our Young Geotechnical Professionals in Australia. This allows me to mentor and train graduate geotechnical engineers and organize TechTalks and Toastmasters presentations by junior staff. I encourage networking with like-minded professionals, and a proud moment for me recently was attending an event with eight of our young engineers at the Roads Australia Emerging Leaders Gala dinner.
Shelly Bratke, Geotechnical Engineer
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic brought a lot of uncertainty as to how we would progress projects by working remotely and juggling with childcare loss and periods of self-isolation. I am grateful to be part of a resilient team that, even with an instantaneous shift to working from home, was able to dig deep and support one another to go the extra mile to pull off projects. One of the most memorable was a drilling project in the Edmonton River Valley for which we had a team of five female engineers and geologists at the helm. The project was completed on-time and under budget, and with great morale amongst the team. Overcoming the technical challenges together and safely navigating the pandemic obstacles made that entire team engineering heroes.
Emma Zaballos, Threat Intelligence Analyst, Federal IT Programs
Washington, D.C., United States
I started in cybersecurity when I joined a local startup working on dark web data collection and intelligence. After leading the product rebuild and becoming the director of analysis, I joined Tetra Tech to apply my cyber threat intelligence insight to federal agencies to help protect the health care and public health sector data and systems during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brittany Ganesan, Cyber Incident Handler, Federal IT Programs
Arlington, Virginia, United States
I worked with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services early on during the COVID-19 pandemic to coordinate with social media teams at Twitter, Facebook, and Google to combat misinformation and disinformation campaigns, as well as coordinating with John Hopkins University's ArcGIS team on the COVID-19 dashboard.
I also have been working with my family back home to start a Girls Who Code club in very rural and economically depressed areas of eastern Kentucky. Additionally, I speak with college-bound students about careers in STEM. For the past 10 years, I have been on the board of the Yellow Ribbon Society of Kentucky and am still very active in the suicide prevention community here locally in Virginia, focusing mainly on veterans and young LGBTQIA+ community members. Volunteering is at the core of my life—my husband and I routinely volunteer at the Carpenter's Shelter in Alexandria, and spend time raising money for the Virginia Tech Alumni Association to award scholarships to incoming freshman, helping make college more affordable for many award recipients through the years.
Cynthia Bianco, Community Resilience Program Manager
Parsippany, New Jersey, United States
I am proud to have the opportunity to work with communities to build their resilience to natural hazards, particularly to flood events that have a profound impact on the life safety, health, economy, and welfare of their residents. This work has enabled me to leverage my passion for sustainable design and respect for the environment, which inspired me to pursue a career in engineering. Combining my foundation in engineering with the perspective of community planning has created an exciting opportunity to make a difference as I assist communities to address climate change and its associated challenges. In my career at Tetra Tech, I am grateful to have the opportunity to work with a truly incredible multidisciplinary team in this emerging field.
Mindy Gould, Senior Engineer and Program Manager
Chicago, Illinois, United States
All heroes usually stand on the shoulders of heroes who came before us. I took inspiration from a woman #EngineeringHero and have worked to build on that. Since I started, environmental engineering—and environmental work in general—has become critically integrated into everything that happens in our world. It is noble and life-giving work. Over my career, I have focused on developing new women heroes by mentoring women at Tetra Tech and bringing new women into the STEM field through women's leadership academies, supporting the Women in Science and Engineering program at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, and even lending girls encouragement while judging their science fair project. Tetra Tech's newest generation of women engineer heroes continues to inspire me.
Ethiopia Haileyesus, Energy Sector Associate
Arlington, Virginia, United States
This past year I supported a Portuguese utility with writing a master plan for renewable energy projects in Sub-Saharan Africa. I specifically helped the utility draft a country risk assessment looking at off-grid, mini-grid, and e-mobility solutions, which helped the utility determine investment opportunities throughout the region. I also supported the Africa Clean Energy program in Zambia, where I was tasked with preparing the pre-assessment report that quantified the electrification needs and associated costs of more than 2,000 rural facilities. The report included preparing the methodology needed to carry out energy audits that will help the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Energy to request funding for additional programs. During my free time, I enjoy mentoring fellow members of the Ethiopian diaspora by reviewing cover letters, providing advice for interview questions, and general career development.
Katie Jakober, Energy Engineer
Madison, Wisconsin, United States
I volunteered for a Girls in Engineering night at the Boys and Girls Club in Madison. It was a fun and engaging night, and I felt like I made a difference for these young girls and hope it empowered them to seek out a future in STEM. I hope to continue to volunteer my time for events like this and more after the pandemic.
Angela Templin, Vice President, U.S. Government Sector Lead, High Performance Buildings Group
Seattle, Washington, United States
This year I had the opportunity to be a mentor in the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship structured mentorship program that focuses on building pathways into high-demand STEM careers for low- and middle-income students. I also joined the board of directors for STEM Paths Innovation Network, a local organization aimed at closing the gap in STEM education and building culturally relevant collaboration and problem-solving skills that support youth and community success in STEM fields. I am always looking for ways to show women or minorities how great a career in STEM can be!
Amanda White, Project Manager
Austin, Texas, United States
With community opportunities limited due to the pandemic, I focused internally on connections with my local colleagues and others throughout Tetra Tech. I worked hard to develop my project management and technical skills and placed an emphasis on the soft skills needed to maintain impactful communication with my teammates and clients during these challenging times. I adopted a positive attitude even when it was hard and mentored others in my office when they struggled at times with feelings of disconnection or faced general work challenges. Through these efforts, other offices and leaders have come to rely on me as well, establishing my presence as a great resource outside of my office. With a background in engineering management, I will continue to focus on these skills and set a world-class example as a leader within Tetra Tech.
Alexandra Gutierrez, Mechanical Engineer in Training
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
As a proud member of Tetra Tech’s Canadian Diversity and Inclusion committee, I support the strategy to advance the recognition and respect of women in engineering in both the office and in the field; moreover, to increase the diversity in our workplace to ensure everyone feels included. I also proudly represent my Colombian heritage as a part of our Tetra Tech’s Voces Employee Resource Group, where I collaborate with international employees to create a future of equality in the workplace and promote the celebration of different cultures. Lastly, as a member of my office’s social committee, I help integrate our team by breaking down barriers, eliminating silos, and fostering a stronger sense of community.
Maite Alves, Environmental Specialist
Sao Paulo, Brazil
I believe that my greatest achievement last year was to start looking at the world in a different way—in a less selfish, more attentive, and more conscious way. Last year, empathy was the focus of all my projects as a coordinator, always trying to cherish everyone's health and well-being. It was incredibly gratifying to see people working safer and happier.
In the atypical scenario we were in last year, I took the initiative to use resources more consciously by reducing the volume of waste, increasing recycling, and reusing everything that was possible. This initiative motivated my colleagues, friends, and family to do the same, and it increased their environmental awareness.
Lyle Martin, Solution Architect
Mount Airy, Maryland, United States
This year I transitioned from being a technical lead to a solution architect. In this new role, I help set up Amazon Web Services development environments for projects, provide recommendations on architecture and development choices, train and mentor junior engineers, and document processes and architecture choices. I focus on training junior staff to familiarize every member with the project’s overall mission and how their roles support the engineering requirements, as well as the tools, practices, and skills needed to execute them. I also continue to mentor team members with their individual assignments and follow up on any additional questions they have or guidance they need to be successful.
Angela James, Lead Systems Engineer
San Antonio, Texas, United States
The pandemic has introduced new challenges in nearly every aspect of work and life. While our workspaces have changed, our work tempo has only gone up. This year I brought the team together with new communication tools to keep everyone connected while establishing much needed measures to maintain work-life balances. In my personal life, I have been mentoring my daughter and her friends, proving that women have a place in STEM through examples of my own career and talking to them about pursuing their own talents and passions.
Jennifer Deal, Client Manager, Solid Waste
Orlando, Florida, United States
During the challenges of this past year, I mentored young professionals and helped them become the next generation of #EngineeringHeroes. Supporting young professionals as part of Tetra Tech’s Fearless Entrepreneur Program, I have been helping young engineers find creative and safe ways to connect with clients virtually while we cannot meet physically. As a longtime believer in introducing STEM to our next generation, I have enjoyed going into my children’s classrooms, giving regular presentations on environmental engineering and explaining how landfills work. While the pandemic has put a temporary hold on my teaching role, I look forward to resuming this in the future.
I have continued to travel to conduct construction inspections and ensure solid waste infrastructure is not delayed despite the pandemic. In that way, I am proud to stand with my fellow #EngineeringHeroes during this challenging period in our history.
Josée Alarie, Project Manager
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
When I was a young student in the process of choosing my career path, I had the chance to meet an engineer during a career day at school that truly turned my life around. Today, I always make sure that my passion is reflected in my work and towards my colleagues. Besides my work, I'm proud of giving back by dedicating effort to educating students about engineering and mentoring younger engineers. Sharing knowledge, skills, and my experience means a lot, not only for myself, but also for the well-being of our future generations.
Shona Symon, Senior Hydrogeologist
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Coming out of university with a degree in hydrogeology, I knew that I wanted to be involved in water resource management, specifically the sustainable use of groundwater for public and private supply. In my time with Tetra Tech, I have been involved in various projects, ranging from small supplies for single dwellings to large scale abstraction of groundwater for public supply networks. Every year, there are increasing pressures on our current infrastructure to keep up with growing demand. In my work, access to clean, safe, and reliable water supply and the continued protection of this resource, is always front and center.
Christine Lew, Environmental Software and Data Management Services Manager
Lafayette, California, United States
I am a Division representative on Tetra Tech's Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Council, working on promoting D&I throughout the company, assisting with creating our D&I Calendar, and encouraging D&I awareness, education, and activities within my service area. I am the mentoring program chair for Tetra Tech’s Professional Women’s Network Employee Resource Group and I also mentor college students and young professional engineers through the Society of Women Engineers.
Erin Hague, Regional Manager and Senior Coastal Ecologist
Boynton Beach, Florida, United States
I am a board member with the Coastal Zone Foundation, where our mission is educating the next generation of coastal professionals. We develop and offer short courses as part of our Certified Coastal Practitioner program that provides multidisciplinary instruction for a comprehensive understanding of the interrelationships among the different elements of modern coastal practices. Throughout 2020, I organized and developed a water quality course with two other instructors that was held virtually at the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association Annual Conference. During a typical year, I am honored to present the work that I do at our local elementary schools’ career days. Developing and presenting the knowledge I've gained over more than 25 years gives back to our coastal community by mentoring the next generation in line.
Sarah Roberts, Principal Geoenvironmental Engineer
Cardiff, United Kingdom
We are constantly looking to support the next generation of engineers entering the industry and have developed a strong relationship with our local university. We support and mentor Master of Science students during a work placement coinciding with their studies. Seeing the next batch of women entering the industry is always a pleasure, especially during these challenging times. Under the current COVID-19 restrictions, we are able to support this year’s group by offering the option of working remotely.
Claire McIlwaine, Senior Civil Engineer
Belfast, Northern Ireland
During the past year, I worked on the detailed design of the drainage network for a new building at the University of Canterbury in the United Kingdom, including an infiltration sustainable drainage system. Our small civil engineering team allows me to work closely with other colleagues, mentor junior staff, and help develop their drainage design skills.
Andrea Hanna, Principal Mechanical Engineer
Belfast, Northern Ireland
We’ve all had our struggles this past year, and being there for my kids, family, and friends has been a big priority for me. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I have managed various projects with demanding deadlines. I was also involved in the refurbishment of the Belfast office, hopefully to the satisfaction of my colleagues when we return to the office. I try to help guide junior engineers and mentor students who come through the office.
Jane Belton, Principal Geotechnical Engineer
Manchester, United Kingdom
What's felt most heroic this year has been working full time while facilitating the home-learning of two primary school aged children who were not in school due to the pandemic.
I've managed the design and construction support of remedial works for a number of landslips that have affected railway embankments to help keep the network running, as well as undertaking designs and design checks for new infrastructure projects, including a highway bypass of a level crossing and highspeed rail. The weather has no respect for the pandemic, and I've supported numerous residential and commercial property owners whose land has suffered weather-related damage or landslip with remedial solution designs and expert services. I'm also a supervising civil engineer with the Institution of Civil Engineers mentoring engineers who are progressing to chartership.
Away from work, I have supported my community as a school governor, including the school's responses to both flood damage and the seismic shift to teaching remotely, and also helped modify our church’s kids club from in-person to online learning and slowly back again.
Victoria Rastelli, Acoustic Section Manager, Sydney
Auckland, New Zealand
I became the Sydney Acoustic Section Manager remotely from New Zealand. It has been beautiful and challenging to manage many projects from different project leaders and sectors, understanding their different paces and needs, study a new set of rules from scratch, training a site engineer, and creating trust and confidence within the group and with external clients—all remotely. Through communication, planning, motivation, empathy, and commitment, I was able to make myself present in Sydney, help the section operate more effectively, create more trust within the team and office, and motivate the different disciplines to work better as a group. It is an everyday effort, and I am loving it!
Leane Campbell, Regional Manager, Saskatchewan Transportation
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Saskatchewan offices were quick to react. Our main client put out a $300M stimulus program to provide an economic boost to create jobs and build priority infrastructure projects. In 2020 our team took on three large design projects that included passing lanes and highway upgrades. To successfully deliver these projects, I took on a mentoring role to support our junior staff on the projects. I was able to assign them tasks while providing guidance and reviews. This experience helped develop their knowledge, which can help with career advancement. These designs were completed in the virtual world with most offices working from home.