- Civil Engineering
Ruth brings extensive civil engineering experience with everything from transportation design to low-impact development and green infrastructure implementation. Prior to joining Penn College, she managed stormwater and wastewater collections bureaus in Lancaster, PA and served as the statewide Director of the Center for Watershed Protection. She also volunteers her talents and travels globally to help populations in need. Fueled by her passion for environmental engineering, Ruth enjoys inspiring the next generation of future-minded civil engineers.
TAKING THE LEAD
Q&A with Ruth
HOW DID YOU BECOME INTERESTED IN CIVIL ENGINEERING AS A CAREER?
I began my college experience at Bloomsburg University. When I realized that the major I had chosen was not for me, I spent a semester at Luzerne County Community College, picking up some gen eds and just trying to figure out what I wanted to do. During that time I met a student who was coming here, to Penn College, and they needed help with a project doing some surveying and leveling with Dr. Sprinsky. They asked me to come along and help out. So, my first exposure to Penn College and the civil engineering program was Dr. Sprinsky out in the field in front of the ATHS running a level loop. I hadn't even applied at that point.
HOW MUCH DID YOU KNOW ABOUT CIVIL ENGINEERING AT THAT POINT?
At that point my knowledge of engineering was really limited to the people who drive trains. But that day peaked my curiosity. I asked Dr. Sprinsky a lot of pointed questions. And he asked me some very pointed questions. And I had this fantastic opportunity to sort of redirect my career. I decided that making a difference is something that I wanted to do. So I applied to Penn College and I started that fall.
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE CIVIL ENGINEERING?
Civil engineering is such a broad and diverse profession. But, if I can try to sum it up as concisely as possible, I would say it's making the world a better place through safer infrastructure, cleaner water, and more robust designs to address climate resilience and any number of different things that just make the world we live in a nicer place. And it's really a chance to just build that better future.
WHAT STANDS OUT TO YOU ABOUT YOUR TIME HERE AS A STUDENT?
Wow. There's so much. The small class sizes really helped promote that sense of teamwork, while not detracting from your individual accomplishments and achievements. And the hands-on practicality of what I learned really set me apart from a lot of other graduates that were coming from other places where it's more theoretical. And it has really opened doors for me from day one.
WHAT DEGREE DID YOU EARN?
I got an associate's in Surveying Technology in 2001, an associate's in Civil Engineering in 2002, and my bachelor's in 2004. From there I entered the workforce and worked for Buchart & Horn (in York) doing some highway design, which opened the door into erosion control, storm water management, and water resources projects. Because of their compensation package, which reimbursed us for graduate studies, I enrolled at Penn State Harrisburg in their Environmental Engineering master's program. I worked through that over the course of the next several years.
HOW DID YOU FIND SUCCESS IN THIS MALE-DOMINATED FIELD?
It is a male-dominated field, but that's changing. I am seeing more and more women, especially at the organizational levels of organizations like the American Society of Civil Engineers. There are a lot of younger women stepping up into leadership roles, which is fantastic.
Because it has historically been a male-dominated field, it can be a little challenging. I have worked for companies where I was referred to as, the girl. It's difficult to navigate, but having strong mentors in the educational field has made a world of difference. Dr. JoAnn Stephens was my advisor when I was here. She was confident and being able to talk to her about some of those challenges was immensely helpful.
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The ABET Advantage
Penn College’s civil engineering technology and surveying technology programs are ABET ETAC accredited. The civil engineering technology department faculty work very hard to maintain the accreditation to give graduates a significant advantage in the engineering workforce. Graduates of ABET accredited programs can pursue professional licensure in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Professional licensure opens many additional opportunities for vertical mobility and increased compensation in the civil engineering and surveying professions.
Civil Engineering Technology
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