Meet Sarah Rife, an engineer with our Seattle Environmental Planning and Compliance team who recently earned her professional engineer license. Sarah has 8 years of industry experience and has been with Parametrix for 6 years. She specializes in hydrologic and hydraulic modeling, site stormwater characterization, and surface and groundwater sample collecting.
We asked her a few questions about her career, what inspires her, and advice for others.
Tell us about your professional background. What is your area of expertise?
I went to undergrad wanting to be an environmental engineer, but my school roped environmental in with civil and you could only have an emphasis in environmental, not an actual degree. I started as a civil and then promptly switched once I took my first structures course (statics and dynamics is not my thing). So, I switched to geological engineering with an emphasis on groundwater and soils. After graduating I was accepted into an Environmental Engineering and Water Resources Master Program where I got to pursue water chemistry, fate and transport, and green infrastructure. This led me to apply at Parametrix.
My area of expertise is preliminary stormwater design for trails or roadway projects and all types of hydrologic and hydraulic modeling, specifically SRH-2D required for fish passage projects.
What inspired you to pursue a career in engineering?
An environmental engineer doing sediment transport with regardless to fish and their lifecycle, came and visited my 5th grade class. Ever since then, I wanted to do what she did and that job meshed really well with wanting to help the planet and people.
What is your next career goal now that you’ve earned your PE license? What is your ultimate career goal?
Next on my list is to lead more projects and be comfortable with the responsibility that comes with stamping the work. I don’t have an ultimate career goal at the moment, I’ll have to think about that some more. Right now, I’m happy seeing what projects come next and exploring different environmental engineering subdisciplines to really creating a well-rounded resume.
What is your favorite project you’ve worked on?
Oh, this is hard. I’ve worked on a few projects that I’ve really enjoyed. I’m not sure I have a top 1, but I have a few favorites. Fish passage work is always interesting because even though the steps are the same each time, every project and crossing comes with different problems and issues to address/ solve. I really enjoy projects that require any sort of groundwater or mounding analysis as that lets me use my undergraduate degree.
What advice do you have for others pursuing their PE license?
Know how you like to study. I do well individually, doing practice problems and learning from mistakes and solved problems. But not everyone is the same and finding what works for you is going to be the best way to passing (also putting on your calendar when you should study whether it’s weekends or a couple hours in the middle of the day before you brain turns to mush keeps you on task).
Anything else you would like to add?
I want to thank everyone for helping me studying and supporting me. I’m very happy to pass and be able to work on my hobbies again!