Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day - An Interview with Colleen Brophy

Once again we are recognizing "Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day" to close out Engineering Week 2018, and this time we sat down with Colleen Brophy, an Environmental Engineer-in-Training in our Raleigh corporate office to talk shop. 

Colleen has her bachelors degree in environmental engineering from NC State University and she focuses on water distribution, wastewater collection and hydraulic modeling projects here at The Wooten Company. 

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Thank you for offering up some time to chat today Colleen - First question: How were you introduced to engineering? 

"The WISE (Women In Science and Engineering) village at NC State. I started freshman year as environmental science degree and the WISE program had so many resources, programs, and taught me so much about the engineering field."

What was your initial impression of the profession?

"In college we were solving neatly constructed, theoretical problems. Now in this professional world, these became real cities, houses, rivers, pipes, systems, etc. with real problems to solve. It was a little intimidating starting out."

So what made you decide to pursue engineering as a career?

"After a semester of environmental science I realized I didn’t want to be in a lab doing research. I decided I would rather be finding solutions and implementing them which led me to the engineering field."

Is there anyone in particular who really supported your pursuit of an engineering degree?

"Both my Mom and Dad have always supported me in everything I have decided to go after. Growing up they helped cultivate my curiosity in science and kept supporting me through high school and college to pursue science and engineering."

What are you most proud of in your career so far? 

"Passing the FE exam and continuing to work towards my Professional License."

What has been the biggest challenge so far in your career and how did you overcome it?

"It has been very difficult learning how to balance work, personal life, studying, and growing in my career. I don’t know if I’ll ever know if I am balancing everything correctly but as long as I keep trying then I am succeeding at moving forward."

Amen... So what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far in your career? 

"It’s okay not to know everything. You have so many people and books as references and you should use your resources."

What advice would you give other women or young girls who are interested in learning more about engineering or becoming an engineer?  

"Don’t be afraid to try something, even if it is difficult or scary. I’d say join some STEM programs, Science Olympiad, or even just doing some research online to see if you are interested."

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We couldn't agree more with Colleen when it comes to joining any of the growing number of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs offered in schools today, and are proud to be able to give back to this community as corporate sponsors and participants across the Carolinas. 

So as Engineering Week comes to a close this Friday afternoon, we'd like to say Thank You to Colleen, as well as every other engineer who dedicates themselves each day to tackling some of our greatest infrastructure challenges, and for striving to improve the health and welfare of their communities, one project at a time.