Tammy Teal

Tammy Teal

Undergraduate, Senior
Civil Engineering

How did you first become interested in engineering?
I first became interested in engineering when I discovered that I could make a positive impact on the world while still being in a profession with math and science. One of my ongoing short-term and long-term goals is to positively influence the world environmentally, socially and educationally.

Why did you choose UW Civil & Environmental Engineering?
I chose UW Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) because of the wide range of disciplines within the department. My central interest has always been protecting the environment and every CEE specialty area incorporates that.

What do you enjoy most about the program?
Although the program has such diverse disciplines, they are all related to each other and overlap in one way or another. I think this prepares CEE students to be extremely knowledgeable in our discipline because we are repeatedly embedding the same material in different CEE perspectives.

What aspect of the field are you particularly interested in?
My main interests within the department are transportation and geotechnical engineering. Witnessing the ever increasing traffic problems experienced throughout Western Washington has influenced my interest in creating more effective and sustainable transportation systems. Also, having traveled around the world to both developed and developing countries has provided me with insight on different approaches to transportation and the need for safe and reliable transportation. I have recently been more interested in geotechnical engineering, in particular geohazards such as landslides.

If you’ve been involved in research, what have you worked on?
I haven’t been involved in research, but I am currently undergoing a yearlong geotechnical engineering internship for the City of Seattle. My main ongoing project is to clean up the “known slides” (geologic hazard ECA 2) layer in the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections’ geographical information system. “Known slides” is a database built from historical data from Shannon & Wilson’s Seattle Landslide Study and data from the landslide database in WebEOC records. Other responsibilities include providing assistance and helping supervise high school interns.

What other activities on campus are you involved in?
Outside of the classroom, I am involved in three great UW Chapters; I am membership chair for the American Society of Civil Engineers and a general member for Concrete Canoe and the American Public Works Association.

You participated in the STARS Program?
Yes, I was part of the STARS program. It was only a few months after the program received funding when an application was sent to my email. In summary, the invitation stated that if selected, I would have a guaranteed spot in the College of Engineering contingent that I complete all the required courses, attend all mandatory events and take a fifth year. At the time my senior year in high school was coming to an end and I was pretty certain that I wanted to pursue Civil & Environmental Engineering, so I decided to apply and was accepted. The program is designed to help prospective engineering students who come from underserved high schools succeed in receiving a Bachelor of Science in an engineering discipline. In order to achieve this, the program implemented professional development, added extra courses to help students master engineering fundamentals, provided access to numerous resources, and built a close relationship between advisors and students. After my first year in the program, the program director invited me to be the program’s student assistant for a year. Of course I accepted and it was great to see the program evolve and work with the second cohort. Utilizing the resources and study habits I learned in the STARS program, I was able to make the Dean’s List twice last year. Overall, the program was a great experience and I am glad to have been one of the pioneers in the program!

What do you hope to do after graduation?
Once I receive my bachelor’s degree, I plan on attending graduate school and then working in the private sector. I also intend to apply my engineering skills to help third world countries like Cambodia by volunteering with organizations such as Engineers Without Borders. Once I have helped create a more comforting lifestyle for my family, I hope to travel to Eastern Europe and Turkey.

Any advice for prospective students who are considering UW CEE?
If you have a strong passion for CEE but you are doubting yourself because of the prerequisite courses, hang in there and keep moving forward. Talk to professors, professionals, advisors, graduate students, and other students to help you figure out what you are interested in.