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Civil Engineer Is Not Afraid To Get Her Hands Dirty

Maureen Mathias first picked up a hammer at age five and has been designing and building structures and systems ever since. “My dad put an addition on our house when I was five and finished when I was about ten, and I loved helping him with simple things like pounding nails, painting, and plastering. I've developed an interest in a variety of activities like woodworking and stripping and refinishing furniture,” the 30-year-old civil engineer says.

Mathias wanted a career that gave back to society and the environment. A love of math, science and general tinkering led her to the field of engineering. She was drawn to civil engineering because of the “feeling of giving back to the community and the earth” associated with the concentration. "I saw this discipline as an opportunity to provide services in promoting environmental responsibility and assisting in public health technologies,” says Mathias.

Maureen Mathias and Josh Raub, staff drafts person with Golder, review how to use a CES-LandTec GEM 2000, which monitors landfill gas.

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1996 with a B.S. degree in civil engineering, Mathias worked for the City of Madison where she spent her first year doing computer aided design and drafting for streets and sewer systems. During the next two years, she worked for the city's environmental special projects division and took on senior engineer responsibilities.

Mathias later enrolled in Oregon State University in pursuit of a masters in civil engineering. Funded by the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program, a combined effort of federal agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy, Mathias studied bioremediation technologies.

In 2002, Mathias graduated and landed a job with Golder Associates Inc., which specializes in ground and environmental engineering, in the firm’s Roseville, Calif. office. Although she has been with Golder less than a year, Mathias has worked on an array of projects including analyzing waste in landfills, designing and managing alternative covers for sewage solids disposal, and monitoring landfill gas generation and migration and developing landfill liner performance demonstrations.

This month, Mathias will finish up work on a Spill Control & Countermeasures Plan and Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan developed for a power generation facility starting up near Las Vegas. She is also completing a landfill investigation and geotechnical design for an abandoned landfill in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Next fall, Mathias will wrap work on a landfill gas monitoring plan for an elementary school in Sacramento, Calif. that is believed to be housed on a portion of a landfill. The work has involved installation and monitoring of landfill gas probes, data assessment, and reporting to the regulatory agencies, she says.

In the next two years, Mathias will continue her work on a California sanitation district project to design and implement innovative technology for closing dedicated land disposal units in central California that have accepted biosolids generated through wastewater treatment for several decades and have developed very high salinity levels.

 



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