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  • Dear Hilori: I'm so glad you're thinking of these terrific professions. I really enjoy teaching at the university level, in civil engineering. Civil engineering makes good use of chemistry expertise, through its sub-discipline of environmental engineering (as well as materials and pavement engineering, for example). You'll notice that most departments of civil engineering are now titled Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering -- so your joint interests will fit in very nicely! Environmental engineering emphasizes water, air and soil quality and contamination. You could be modeling air pollution outside or in a home, ground water flows from a reservoir, drinking water quality, remediation (clean-up) techniques, and so forth. Of course, a Department of Chemical Engineering is another option that also will marry your two interests. (There the focus tends to be much more microscopic, at the level of atoms, and how molecular reactions proceed, I believe.) Good luck with your quest! Let me know if you have further questions. Sincerely, Kara Kockelman
  • Lauren: Thanks so much for the great question! Engineers can do anything. Really. So a civil engineer may end up as a major policymaker (we have an engineer mayor right now in Austin), head of construction crews (directly engaged in the earth moving, concrete pouring testing, etc.), designer (largely in an office but also on site regularly to see exactly how the structures are going up [to ensure they meet the design specifications]), regulator or review consultant (inspecting construction, trying to diagnose any weaknesses or failures), and so on. If you really like be on the job site, civil engineering departments generally have subsets of faculty ( & classes) focused on construction management. If you want a mix of design in there (which I can recommend, given your stated interests and abilities), then you would find that job type quite easily within design-build firms (which are the biggest civil engineering firms out there - so there are tons of graduates headed into these firms every year). I teach a senior-level design class for roadways. I have several colleagues teaching such courses for buildings. Others for bridges. Some for brick buildings, others for steel, and still others for wood. We have several materials engineers in our department, focused on concrete, asphalt, and so on. (Note: I am at the University of Texas at Austin.) Such variety and strength in multiple areas is very common, especially at bigger public universities. Let me know if you have any other questions! We hope to see you in engineering soon! Best wishes, Dr. Kockelman

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