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Meet ASABE’s Newest New Face of Engineering

by Alicia Modenbach

richardsonGrace Richardson was named to DiscoverE’s New Faces of Engineering – Class or 2014 in February.  She took a few minutes out of her busy schedule to sit down with us to talk about her reaction to the exciting news, as well as some of the many projects she dedicates her time.  

YPC: What was your reaction when you found out that you were selected to represent ASABE in DiscoverE’s New Faces of Engineering campaign?

GR: My first reaction was disbelief.  It was a bit humbling, in fact.  But then I was pretty excited, especially when I found out that I'd get to go to Washington, DC, to participate as a judge in the Future Cities Competition Finals at National Engineers Week.  That was quite the honor and a neat experience.

YPC: You are currently a graduate student at the University of Arkansas, correct?  Can you explain to us what you are working on?

GR:  I'm currently working to finish up my masters in biological engineering at the University of Arkansas.  My research is looking at a method for reducing long-term sediment oxygen demand in eutrophic reservoirs through resuspending and oxygenating the sediment.  I've gotten some interesting results so far, and I think my advisor, Dr. G. Scott Osborn, will be presenting some of them at the annual conference this year.

YPC: As an engineer, I know that no day is really typical, but could you give us an idea of what your "typical" day at work might look like?

GR: Currently, because I'm really close to being finished with my degree, a typical day has me working on my thesis a bit (both trying to finish it and trying to convert it to a publishable manuscript), working on some of my advisor's research a bit, and trying to plan out what's next for me a bit.  I just applied to take the PE in October, so pretty soon I'll be spending my days studying for that, too.

YPC: You listed several volunteer projects that you were affiliated with, like Raio de Esperanca and SoilCycles, in your New Faces nomination application.  Can you tell us a little more about those projects/experiences?

GR: Sure!  It's been a while since I worked with Raio de Esperanca, but that was a great experience.  They work out of Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil, and do a lot of outreach to communities along the Rivers Negro and Solimoes.  They provide some relief food but also build schools way out in the jungle and then continue to support the teachers and students there.  

SoilCycles is a project run by a group called Feed Fayetteville here in NW Arkansas.  Its goal is to collect compost from local restaurants to support the SNAP (food stamp) garden run by Feed Fayetteville.  The hope is eventually to show the city how much local businesses could be composting and get them to start a city-wide program.  As a volunteer, I pick up compostable food waste and deliver it to the garden by bicycle every week.

YPC: Do you have any advice you would like to give to engineering students and/or young engineers just starting their careers?

GR: My advice to engineering students and young engineers would be to find a mentor(s) and learn everything you can from them.  I know I've learned so much from my advisors and bosses in school and when I was working, and I could not have gotten to where I am now without their guidance and support.

Thanks and congratulations again, Grace! 

For more information about Grace and the other inductees to ASABE’s New Faces – Class of 2014, visit ASABE’s Engineers Week webpage.

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