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Environmental Consulting and Skiing?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hey everyone,

 

So I am going to be applying to Grad school for geological engineering, and have been thinking about applying in the Colorado area (School of Mines, UC Boulder, and some others out west).  

 

Does anyone have any personal experience or know of stories of others that have experience in this field of geoengineering / environmental consulting/ environmental engineering type of work that have the chance to ski many days out of the season while working?

 

Obviously work is my priority and skiing comes second, but is it typical for companies to allow employees a chance to ski the slopes, or is it hit and miss in terms of occupation, employee level in the company, etc.?

 

 

Thanks a lot,

 

Smugglingstowe

post #2 of 16

Like most careers, once you are done with school, you will look for a position in the public (state or federal govt) or private sector (consulting, private industry).  With few exceptions you will be expected to fit your recreational pursuits into the vacation and personal leave allowances that go with that particular position.   The location of your work and your employer's enlightened view of skiing as an important part of their services and productivity will have a lot to do with the answer to your question. 

 

I have been in the business since (OMG) 1978 or so and have had my own company since 1996.  As CEO of Hadden Environmental, I have deduced that skiing is a legitimate business necessity, and count among my clients Kirkwood Mountain Resort who accommodates that need, and even makes it deductible.  So, it is possible to mix the two depending on how inventive you are.  The major resorts have environmental impacts that require management, monitoring, reporting, permitting, and heaven forbid, remediation and cleanup. 

 

Geological engineering is a somewhat narrowly focused specialty of a broad environmental profession.  Its good work, but if your goal is to work at or for a ski resort and to incorporate outdoor recreation with your occupation, I like your chances better if you adjust your education to meet the diverse needs of those "customers" as an environmental manager.  Diverse studies of air quality, wastewater, waste management, environmental impact assessment, natural resource management, erosion control, stormwater management, alternative energy management, with a helping of environmental regulatory and government study and perhaps a smattering of outdoor recreation and tourism,   If you can combine this diversity with an engineering degree, so much the better.

 

Do you personally know any geological engineers?  What do they do?  Where do they work?

post #3 of 16



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider View Post

Like most careers, once you are done with school, you will look for a position in the public (state or federal govt) or private sector (consulting, private industry).  With few exceptions you will be expected to fit your recreational pursuits into the vacation and personal leave allowances that go with that particular position.   The location of your work and your employer's enlightened view of skiing as an important part of their services and productivity will have a lot to do with the answer to your question. 

 

I have been in the business since (OMG) 1978 or so and have had my own company since 1996.  As CEO of Hadden Environmental, I have deduced that skiing is a legitimate business necessity, and count among my clients Kirkwood Mountain Resort who accommodates that need, and even makes it deductible.  So, it is possible to mix the two depending on how inventive you are.  The major resorts have environmental impacts that require management, monitoring, reporting, permitting, and heaven forbid, remediation and cleanup. 

 

Geological engineering is a somewhat narrowly focused specialty of a broad environmental profession.  Its good work, but if your goal is to work at or for a ski resort and to incorporate outdoor recreation with your occupation, I like your chances better if you adjust your education to meet the diverse needs of those "customers" as an environmental manager.  Diverse studies of air quality, wastewater, waste management, environmental impact assessment, natural resource management, erosion control, stormwater management, alternative energy management, with a helping of environmental regulatory and government study and perhaps a smattering of outdoor recreation and tourism,   If you can combine this diversity with an engineering degree, so much the better.

 

Do you personally know any geological engineers?  What do they do?  Where do they work?


 

That's pretty good advice.  I work in the waste management and disposal side of the environmental business.  From my experience those environmental responsibilities in the private sector usually wear many different hats so a broad range of experience and knowledge greatly increases the likelihood of getting a job that will fit your lifestyle.  The people I work closely with are responsible for health and safety compliance as well of environmental compliance.  In fact I would estimate that 75-90% of their time is spent dealing with health and safety rather than environmental issues.  Those types of jobs (at least in this region) are also few and far between.  More than likely entry level job opportunities will either be government jobs or as a contractor. 

post #4 of 16

I would also like to say I can't believe Cirquerider has been able put up with the environmental business for 32 years and in California no less.

post #5 of 16

Diversity allows us to manage an interesting array of projects and bring in expertise as needed.  I have worked with geologists, hydrologists, civils and many other experts.  I need them to design and sign off on things like impoundments, containment structures, liners, spillways, drilling plans, but the day to day compliance and conceptual solutions to problems are where I make my living, and it contributes to very long-term relationships.  My personal background included 15 years with Ohio EPA followed by work in the private sector at Aerojet and Louisiana Pacific Corp, before I hung a shingle and essentially marketed myself as an outsourced environmental manager.  Still, I found the work with the regulatory agency very rewarding, as I did the industry work.  This gig just gives me a lot more freedom, and it pays according to how hard I work (or not).

 

I agree with everything that has been said above.  Your people skills will greatly determine how you are perceived.  It takes time to acquire experience and respect that gives you the freedom to manage environmental programs (as opposed to projects), and yet we are still working for directors, and managers who are overseeing entire companies, facilities and resorts and making sure their objectives are met, and they look good to their bosses.  Find out how you fit and the freedom to explore your interests will come. I hope this will become more common in the future than it was for my generation.  I still think the key is to be recognized as an expert in at least one particular area with capability to work outside that box enough to avoid being labeled, and to be able to change and adapt as needs change....oh, and enjoy the moment and the people you meet along the way. 

post #6 of 16

Good advice above.  The short answer is No - this industry doesn't generally afford extra time off to ski.  But it depends on your situation, like if your boss is a skier or supports you getting time off to ski.  You can work it in.  I only try to get about 15-20 ski days per year,and I'm lucky if I get that.  I've been in environmental consulting for 12 years in the Northeast.  Geology degree, started out logging boreholes behind old factories looking for contamination, did a lot of early work in general contaminant hydrogeology (sounds fancy but its not really), recently got my LEP licensed environmental professional degree and now am managing fairly complex site investigation and remediation projects.  It's a very good field to be in - some consolidation - including my company that just got acquired by a company based in Highland Ranch, CO- not hard to figure out if you're interested - but, I don't know of too many layoffs in the whole economic downturn - some, but not too many and not as much up here in the NE.  Some gigs require travel early on and field work to get your feet wet, but with a grad degree, you would likely not be doing field work for too long.  You could end up a resident engineer on a mining project in CO and get some down time to ski, but that would be a coveted assignment I'm sure.  Hope this helps.    

post #7 of 16



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider View Post

My personal background included 15 years with Ohio EPA followed by work in the private sector at Aerojet and Louisiana Pacific Corp, before I hung a shingle and essentially marketed myself as an outsourced environmental manager.  Still, I found the work with the regulatory agency very rewarding, as I did the industry work.  This gig just gives me a lot more freedom, and it pays according to how hard I work (or not). 


OEPA?  What part of the state were you in?
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lkazzi View Post

Good advice above.  The short answer is No - this industry doesn't generally afford extra time off to ski.  But it depends on your situation, like if your boss is a skier or supports you getting time off to ski.  You can work it in.  I only try to get about 15-20 ski days per year,and I'm lucky if I get that.  I've been in environmental consulting for 12 years in the Northeast.  Geology degree, started out logging boreholes behind old factories looking for contamination, did a lot of early work in general contaminant hydrogeology (sounds fancy but its not really), recently got my LEP licensed environmental professional degree and now am managing fairly complex site investigation and remediation projects.  It's a very good field to be in - some consolidation - including my company that just got acquired by a company based in Highland Ranch, CO- not hard to figure out if you're interested - but, I don't know of too many layoffs in the whole economic downturn - some, but not too many and not as much up here in the NE.  Some gigs require travel early on and field work to get your feet wet, but with a grad degree, you would likely not be doing field work for too long.  You could end up a resident engineer on a mining project in CO and get some down time to ski, but that would be a coveted assignment I'm sure.  Hope this helps.    


It has been a very year for my company.  Our stock is up more than 30% on the year and we can thank BP for the majority of that.  Locally we laid off some folks in in 2008 when things slowed down dramatically but that was only temporary.  I would say that most of our facilities are as busy or busier than they have ever been.  Our company has also undergone some large expansion in the last 10 years and in the last couple of year we really broadened our scope of work with the acquisition of another large company that supports oil and gas drilling.  Now if only I could get my wife to go for a transfer to Utah instead of Ohio.
 

post #8 of 16

OEPA - small world.  I've worked with Erik Hagen before - he's in the Division of Haz Waste Mgmt based in Columbus.  Slim chance, but just thought I'd throw it out there.   

post #9 of 16

I worked for the Division of Wastewater Pollution Control form 1978 to 1988, and Div. Air Polluiton Control form 1988 -1991 as program manager of the Air Toxics, NESHAPs and RCRA programs under chief Bob Hodanbosi.  The asbestos NESHAPs in particular got me involved in a number of special investigations operations which was to say the least interesting.  Dan Harris was a close friend from the Haz Waste division.

post #10 of 16

Fortunately I don't know any OEPA guys (or girls) personally.  I guess that means I am doing my job correctly.  biggrin.gif

post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thank you all for the great advice experience stories.  It's definitely reassuring to hear that there's a strong market for geologists and such.

 

I definitely have time to find my interests in the field, whether its exploration, engineering, remediation work.  I've been out east my whole life and feel like I need a change to get out west.

 

 

When comparing to the East Coast- New England area, and the west coast-Rockies/Cascade areas, where have you found more success?  I guess it depends on what you're involved with, what type of projects you would want to work on, etc.

 

Thanks for the information again.  Never thought epicski would be a source of occupation info!

 

Greg

post #12 of 16

There are other options for you depending on how you structure your grad school program. There are many government labs (particularly in the Boulder area) and a number of them do some form of environmental science. The Boulder area is also emerging as a leader in green technology start up companies so there are ample opportunities in the private sector as well. Here is a list of some government facilities in Colorado:

National Institute of Standards & Technology Boulder

Climate Monitoring & Diagnostics Laboratory Boulder

Department of Energy-Grand Junction Projects Office Grand Junction

Environmental Technology Laboratory Boulder

Forecast Systems Laboratory Boulder

Institute for Telecommunication Sciences Boulder

National Center for Atmospheric Research Boulder

National Geomagnetic Information Center Denver

National Seed Storage Laboratory Ft. Collins

National Wildlife Research Center Ft. Collins

Natural Hazards Research & Applications Information Center Boulder

Rocky Mountain Research Station Ft. Collins

Space Environment Laboratory Boulder

Transportation Test Center Pueblo

 

I work for an aerospace company in Boulder and usually get to ski 50+ days a year (I skied today). I ski weekends and take individual vacation days in the middle of the week most of the winter. I try to plan days off around meetings and work commitments trying to time them with good ski weather (powder days). As other posters have noted you will most likely not have the flexibility to ski whenever you want unless you find a job closely related to the ski industry. The best advice I can offer is to find a job you really like in an area you want to live with easy acess to the things you like to do. If you comnpromise on any of the three you won't be happy.

post #13 of 16

Good information from the pros here; I think Ikazzi's experience sounds the closest to what you might be looking at.  As a civil engineer and hydrologist, I've worked with geologists and what we call geotechnical engineers. It's hard to predict what specialties will be in demand in the future.  If I could do my career over again, I would have studied more civil design so I could do design work when there wasn't enough activity in my specialty.  With your interests, I might suggest you study foundation engineering, structural design and groundwater hydrology to broaden your marketability.

 

As far as skiing, a lot of companies have "flex-time" which gives you a few extra days off. The way it works here is that you work 9-hour days, 8 out of 10 days every 2 weeks, and get the tenth day off, a Friday. That should at least let you beat the traffic up into the mountains.

post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 

Great Mapnut, thanks for the information.

 

I just have one other question for you, and others that have gone through the whole college experience/ grad school.

 

So While I do find geology interesting and would definitely be fine majoring in the subject, I also want to get a decent amount of engineering background.  

 

At Colorado School of Mines as an example for Grad school, their geophysics engineering graduate prerequisite is 16 credits of engineering course work prior to taking their graduate classes.

 

From experience, is it a plausible idea to continue with the geology major, taking engineering classes along the way to possibly fulfill a minor in Mechanical engineering, for example, and if I follow this track will I be still be able and ready to get a geophysical engineering masters degree?

 

Or would it be better to major in an engineering discipline, minor in geology, then go from there, like above?

 

It would be great to get a little insight into this from your experiences.  I have time to decide, so any info would be great!

 

Thanks a lot,

 

Greg

post #15 of 16

Civil, is much more marketable in my experience than mechanical. 

post #16 of 16

Just my opinion, but it seems to be harder to get a job with a bachelors in geology than in the engineering field.  You need at least a master's in geology to get off the ground.  A bachelor's in engineering is usually enough to get a career going.

 

I've done ok in chemical engineering, but it's getting harder and harder for me to recommend that path to anyone.  Plus, most of the ChE jobs are not where the skiing is.

 

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