Chelsea Billingsley, Project Engineer, SEH

Grit and Strength

Do you remember the moment when you said, I have to pursue this dream and become an engineer?

I never actually had a dream to become an engineer - I sort of fell in love with it after I started working. My internship at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment helped me understand how fulfilling of a career it could be. At 19 years old, I had no idea the breadth of what being an engineer could encompass, but I experienced the tangible ability to help people both improve their quality of life and natural surroundings through water and wastewater treatment working with the State Health Department.

As a female engineer how's your experience been in a male-dominated field?

My experience as a female engineer in a male-dominated field has been primarily good. I will be forever grateful to the women engineers who paved the way before me and had to tolerate way more discrimination and sexism. At times, it can be hard because men and women do think very differently, but both genders bring unique skill sets and strengths to the profession.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Inspiration is all around me - whenever I go for a hike, I am inspired to keep trying to minimize human impact on the environment and by keeping our rivers and streams as healthy as possible. I am also inspired by my boss, Angela, who has such a strong work ethic and drive to do the right thing, and by all of my friends and family.

How important is a good support system?

My life priorities are pretty much in this order: family, friends, fun and work (the two sometimes have to alternate positions). No (wo)man is an island, and my life is full of people who support me in both my career and extra-curricular life.

What advice would you give women who want to enter your field and/or pursue their dream?

My advice to women everywhere is to remind yourself that you have the grit and strength to get through anything. There are going to be hard times, but you have the strength to get through it, and it too shall pass.

After being in your industry, what are some lessons learned?

Some lessons learned: always take pride in your work, no matter what you do. We are all human and make mistakes, but learn from them and move on. Learn to accept compliments gracefully.

What are a few of your favorite must-haves?

Talenti salted caramel gelato - seriously the best.