Jennifer Vilbig

Jennifer Vilbig

Organization
Vilbig & Associates
Location
Dallas, TX
Jennifer Vilbig
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Biography

Jennifer is a 3rd generation engineer and native of Dallas, Texas. She graduated in 2007 from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a B.S. in Civil Engineering. After spending several years working for large, multi-discipline, international consulting and design firms, Jennifer joined her family's company, Vilbig & Associates. Jennifer decided on civil engineering as a career because the projects she designs impact peoples lives. The road, buildings, sidewalks, water, sewer and storm networks that you use on a daily basis are all designed by civil engineers! Jennifer is an active volunteer with the Society of Women Engineers in Dallas. She has served as the Southern Methodist University SWE Counselor, mentoring and guiding college students for the past five years. Jennifer enjoys traveling, especially to places where she can visit with her college friends! Most recently, Jennifer spent two weeks in Dubai, U.A.E. & Bombay, India for a friends wedding.

Education
2007 B.S. in Civil Engineering - Georgia Institute of Technology
Answers by Jennifer Vilbig

Hi Erin!

First off, would you be more interested in ensuring the building would be able to support the garden, selecting the right plants or designing a rainwater filtration system & cistern? A civil engineer would be involved with the calculations to determine if the roof and building structure could support the garden. Soil is VERY heavy, plus the plants would need water which adds to the weight that the building would need to support. If you'd be more interested in the layout of the garden and selecting plants based on what grows well in the area then a program in landscape architecture may be what you should look into. Landscape Architects select the types of plants and where they would be located to ensure the garden functions ascetically and biodiversity. Almost all projects that I work on involve a landscape architect. A rainwater filtration system and cistern would probably need to be designed by an engineer, but not necessarily a civil engineer as some mechanical engineers design these types of systems. Calculations for the volume of rainwater the system would need to store as well as the design of an emergency overflow would be done by an engineer. I am not familiar with a degree in environmental studies, but I would recommend that you speak with someone who has completed this degree to determine the types of job opportunities that would be available to you once you graduate. I'd also like to point out that the salary of engineers tend to be much higher than someone with an environmental science degree and sometimes the entry level positions would be basically the same!

I would highly suggest that you reach out to local urban gardeners before you begin your degree program as they may know of resources that would be highly beneficial to you. Plus, ask about their background you may learn that a degree isn't even needed to reach your dream! Have you heard of UpGarden or Seattle Urban Farm Company? A quick google search led me to those two organizations! A plethora of start-up incubators exist that may be a good route for you to explore as well. Such as UnLtd USA that is based in Austin, TX specifically for social entrepreneurs. Are there any in Seattle that would fit your dream?

Hope this helps!

Hi Mika, 

I would highly suggest starting with the engineering undergraduate degree. Yes, you will be able to get an engineering masters degree later and could also still possibly find a job in the environmental field with only a biology degree, but your pay would be significantly less and your career advancement would progress slower. Plus, most biology programs are probably geared towards medial or research, which have nothing to do with environmental engineering or environmental science. 

Typically, most engineers in the environmental field do have a masters degree. If you did want to earn an engineering masters degree it would be significantly harder without the engineering undergraduate degree as there is a lot of math skills that you would not have practiced with a biology undergraduate degree.  

With a degree in engineering the career paths are limitless! I know engineers who are working in all types of industries in traditional and non-traditional engineering roles. 

What else can you do with an undergraduate degree in biology? What would be your starting salary options? Are you getting student loans to pay for school? Could you afford to pay those loans on a salary of a biologist? 

Best of luck! 

Hi Sandeep! 

First, what exactly are you wanting to do with your civil engineering degree? If you are more interested in structural design of buildings or bridges than learning Stadd would be an excellent choice. If you are wanting to do another aspect of civil engineering such as roadway design or hydraulics & hydrology than AutoCAD or GIS may be a better choice. Yes, having some skills with computer program will help you get a job. I highly highly recommend that you get an internship to help figure out which field of civil engineering you are interested in. A lot of engineering includes on-the-job training, so it is not completely necessary for you to have all the skills needed right out of college.

My experience is in site design for commercial development or pipelines and I have never needed to know a programming language. It may be beneficial to know the basics of computer programing, but I would recommend understanding the thought process involved with computer programing and focusing your efforts on learning excel more than a specific programming language. 

Best of luck!