Carolyn Voter

 In Civil Engineer, Stories

I am… an avid reader, sometimes serious runner, and casual flute player working on a Ph.D. in water resources engineering.

I chose Civil Engineering because… It gave me the opportunity to be an environmental engineer without closing the door to being an environmental scientist.

I like my job because… I can have the satisfaction of finding the mathematically correct answer followed by the freedom to creatively express how I got there. My outfit can be a hard hat with steel toe boots, a dress with high heels, or anything in between. Even when I’m working on independent projects, I’m part of a long tradition of public service to my local and global community.

I want others to know… I spend 50-100% of my week writing or designing posters or other visual displays. The technical part of being an engineer is important (of course!), but communicating what you do by writing, speaking, and presenting to others is equally important.

This is my story… My proposed field of study bounced around quite a bit during high school (Biology, French, English – it all sounded interesting!), but by the time I entered college I was certain environmental studies was the field for me. Just before I hit “submit” on my application, I had a fortunate conversation with my aunt (also a civil engineer) and a professor at Bucknell University, who both persuaded me that civil and environmental engineering would be a better fit. I consider that switch to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! The civil engineering track gave me not only the academic and technical background to tackle the environmental problems I wanted to solve, but also an appreciation for how that knowledge is utilized in real-world, professional settings thanks to multiple field trips, guest speakers, and design projects. I am especially grateful for experiences like the Bucknell Brigade, an engineering summer study abroad in Brazil, and my team’s senior design project for a Native American community in Arizona. After a whirlwind summer that included graduation, a wedding, and a move from the east coast to Wisconsin, my husband and I both started graduate school at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Here, as a member of the Hydroecology Group in the Water Resource Engineering department, my research centers on the development of numerical hydrologic models to investigate ways to both enhance ecosystem services and minimize hydrologic impacts in urban ecosystems. I am currently using Parflow with CLM to study how fine-scale differences in residential lot layout and impervious area arrangement affects long-term hydrology at the parcel scale. In addition to my research work, I am also the Wisconsin Water Resources Institute Policy Fellow and spend half my time working on groundwater issues at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Top things I enjoy in my spare time include: (1) making lists (2) running (outside!) (3) reading (fantasy books) (4) thunderstorms (5) planting flowers (6) our pets: Dizzy (the dog), Dipsy (the hedgehog), and Bloop and Cthulu (the axolotls) (7) walking across the street for ice cream.

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