This week is National Engineers Week (EWeek), a time to recognize and promote awareness of the contributions of engineers to the quality of life that we enjoy. IAI is fortunate to have four talented civil engineers among our staff, whose work strengthens and supports our Contract Operations and Dredging and Sediment Dewatering services: President and CEO, Dana Trierweiler, P.E.; Vice-President of Contract Operations, Kent Trierweiler, P.E.; Project Manager, Sara Soleau, P.E.; and Project Engineer, Jill Trierweiler, E.I.T.
IAI’s engineers are a family – literally and figuratively. Dana and Kent are brothers, and Jill is Kent’s daughter. Sara may not be related by blood, but she is an integral part of the team. You might say, she’s been “professionally adopted” by the Trierweilers.
To celebrate EWeek, we wanted to talk to Sara and Jill about engineering. As two young civil engineers in a small, growing company, these ladies have unique, important perspectives. Both Sara and Jill began their engineering careers in earnest at IAI, shortly after college graduation: Sara, from University of Michigan, and Jill, from Michigan Technological University.
Sara talked about what she enjoys most about her work. “I’ve come to appreciate the client relationships and project management the most. I always knew I liked math and science, which is what led me to the field. But there’s something about being able to tell a client, ‘We’ll take care of it,’ and then organizing our resources to do it, that gives me the biggest charge.”
Jill enjoys the mix of field and office work. “One day, I might be out in the field, opening fire hydrants to test flow and system pressure in a particular water system, and the next few days I might be using those data points to ensure the computer model of the water system operates as closely to real life as possible. The engineering field provides job opportunities that vary in the amount of desk time versus fieldwork.”
Jill and Sara are the engineering support team for IAI’s Contract Operations and Dredging and Dewatering Divisions. They work closely with operators and managers in both divisions, and Jill says that interaction allows them to design systems based on industry standard criteria, with an eye toward real-world experience. IAI’s current engineering projects include designing a tertiary filtration upgrade for a small wastewater treatment plant, building a wastewater asset management program for a local community, and developing hydraulic water models for drinking water system feasibility and reliability studies. Jill also recently wrapped up design calculations for dredging water treatment plant.
Both Sara and Jill strongly recommend that engineering students seek out internships as early in their education as possible. Sara says that she wishes she had interned more. “I found that I craved more experience when I first entered the work force upon graduation and wished I had spent a couple more summers getting acquainted with the industry instead of waiting tables or spending my time on other typical summer jobs.”
Jill added, “Internships help to give a taste of working in the industry, and it can help you to judge what ratio of office to field work might be right for you. Remember that jobs in engineering, and even in your chosen discipline, vary. You just need to find the right fit for you. Internships, or possibly job-shadowing, can give you a head-start on finding that fit.”
Both women are thankful for a strong mentor in Kent Trierweiler, who has over 30 years of water and wastewater engineering experience. Jill said, “Some people ask me what it’s like working with my dad. I think they’re expecting me to say, ‘Oh, it’s horrible!’ But working with my dad has made me look up to him even more than I did before. He is well-respected by his colleagues, not just for his knowledge, but also for his integrity and client relationships.”
Speaking about Kent, Sara said, “School teaches you the nuts and bolts of engineering, but it takes a great teacher to pass on the practical skills. I have to attribute my technical writing and project management skills to him.”
At IAI, we are proud of each member of our employee family, and the great work they do each day. We are happy to take this opportunity to highlight the work of our engineering department, particularly Sara and Jill, who we see as up-and-coming in their chosen field. Happy EWeek, everyone!