Our first Q & A in the series is with one of our staff engineers, Candice Fellows, who has been involved with environmental, geotechnical, subsurface utility engineering, and asset management projects in various capacities at NTH. She has a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Akron and a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Cleveland State University.
My favorite subjects in high school were Chemistry and Calculus.
When did you know you were interested in engineering?
Over the summer I was given the opportunity to work in the Engineering Co-Op program for Ohio Dept. of Transportation (ODOT) where I spent the summer working on a bridge project from beginning to end, and that summer I fell in love with Civil Engineering.
What was it that piqued your interest?
What peaked my interest most was the fact that I was leaving my mark on the community I live in. Being able to say “I was involved in that project, look how great it turned out!” gave me an immense sense of pride.
Did you have any mentors?
I did have a mentor; his name was Mark Tumeo, a former professor at Cleveland State University. He challenged me to not rely solely on being smart, but also on working hard.
Who was your biggest influencer in your career choice?
It wasn’t who, but what. Entering in to my undergrad studies in engineering, I realized that black women were very scarce in the classroom and in the industry. That was a driving force to not only become an Engineer but to use my platform as a black woman in this field to reach out to other women and minorities, because throughout my academic career I always felt like the loner, and that can be added stress to an already stressful journey.
Did you face any resistance from family or friends about your career choice?
I definitely faced resistance from friends and some family. Many believed I should pick a career choice where women of color are more abundant. Eventually everyone offered support when they realized I was going to become an engineer with or without their support.
Did you entertain any other career possibilities? If so, what and why didn’t you go that route?
When I first started my undergrad studies my major was Chemistry with a Pre-Med minor. My interest in Civil Engineering after the summer I worked with ODOT was so great that I decided to change my major.
Where did you go to college? Why?
I went to Cleveland State University (CSU) for my Bachelor’s degree. CSU is a great college that was affordable and has a really good engineering program. I obtained my Master’s degree at The University of Akron (UA). I decided to specialize in Geotechnical Engineering and UA has a really amazing Geotechnical department and program, also leading me to remain there for my PhD studies.
What is it about civil engineering that caught your interest out of the other engineering fields?
Civil Engineering is one of the most diverse engineering disciplines, which captured my interest. It encompasses Structural Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering, and that’s just naming a few. That diversity in Civil Engineering leaves space for engineers to grow in various aspects and I feel that’s important.
How/why did you choose NTH?
I had been looking for a job and a former employee and friend told me fill out the application. I did and I also looked in to the history of the company and I discovered it was a great company, with a great reputation.
What do you do at NTH and what do you like most about your job?
I’m a Staff Engineer and I enjoy being able work on various but different projects.
What is your favorite project you’ve worked on as an engineer?
I was involved with the QA/QC for a new subsurface improvement technology for a new children’s hospital in Akron.
What advice would you give girls who are interested in engineering and related fields?
I would tell them to GO FOR IT! Engineering can be very intimidating when you’re the minority, but there’s room for women in engineering and a great need for more women in engineering.