Georgia Society of Professional Engineers (GSPE) recently named project engineer Jennifer Young its 2022 Young Engineer of the Year! To learn what sets Jennifer apart, we spoke to the award-winner to discuss her career, her accomplishments, and advice for other young engineers following in her footsteps.
How did you get started in the engineering industry and what do you at RK&K?
I started my career in civil engineering in high school! Gwinnett County Department of Water Resources hosted me for two summers for an informal job shadow program. In exchange for digitizing legacy paper files, I was shown a piece of every different aspect of the Stormwater Section, from illicit discharge inspections to stormwater fee billing and stream restoration construction. Once Gwinnett County joined the cooperative education program with Georgia Tech, I knew I wanted more time to learn from them, so I completed this program and joined full-time upon graduation.
While I have since gained a variety of valuable experiences and skills as a Transportation Design Engineer with Wolverton (now CHA) and a Bridge & Culvert Hydraulics Engineer with Atkins, I am thrilled to have brought my experience full circle as an Environmental Water Resources Project Engineer at RK&K, working on innovative stormwater best management practices for Gwinnett County.
What is your greatest accomplishment so far?
This one! Joking aside, my greatest accomplishment is making a positive impact, through both my career and my volunteer efforts, to be recognized in this way. The true achievement is consistently striving to be the best version of myself and to shape a better world for my community.
Outside of work, how do you stay active in the engineering world?
I’m an active member of the ASCE Georgia Section and serve as both the Section Pre-College Outreach Subcommittee Chair and the Section Hospitality Chair. I’m also an ASCE Environmental & Water Resources Institute (EWRI) member, an ASCE mentor to junior engineers, and a liaison with the ACEC STEM Workforce Task Force. In addition to my work for ASCE, I am on ACEC’s Water & Environmental Forum and Diversity & Inclusion Task Force, as well as an applicant for the 2022 Junior Board. I’m on the Georgia Association of Water Professionals Stormwater Committee and the Southeast Stormwater Association (SESWA) Communications Committee, and I’m a member of the Georgia Association of Floodplain Management and the Society for Ecological Restoration.
What words of inspiration do you have for engineers just starting their career?
Every experience is an opportunity to learn. Every person you meet has something valuable to share. As a junior engineer, you are a collector of skills and experiences. The most valuable of all experiences is failure. FAIL is an acronym for First Attempt In Learning. If we don’t fail from time to time, then we stayed within our comfort zone and are not discovering our full potential. Jump in with both feet and don’t hesitate to ask for help when (not if) you need it.