angela popenhagen STEM career spotlight

Angela Popenhagen
Civil Engineer
Owner/Project Manager at Stevens Engineering

What do you do as a Civil Engineer?

I own and manage a civil engineering firm. My job consists of marketing our services to state agencies, municipalities, private developers and large engineering firms, preparing contracts for service, directing the engineering team, performing engineering tasks, and present engineering products at Planning Commission and Council meetings.

How does a Civil Engineer make a difference in the world? 

Similar to the game Sim City, civil engineers build the world that we live in: roads and bridges, parks, pipes for water and sewer, housing developments, airport runways, and even amusement parks! I love being able to see (and use) my designs every day!

What are the typical employers/industries and that need Civil Engineers?

There are so many employment opportunities for civil engineers. You will find them working at cities, state transportation and building departments, large contractors, watershed districts, state parks, power companies, and businesses such as 3M, Cargill, Target and Walmart. All of these entities have civil engineering departments for design and development.

Educational Qualifications – What do you typically need to enter and/or be successful in this career?

Civil engineers need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, and many places prefer a master’s degree. However, there are many associated degrees that require a two-year degree such as Computer Aided Drafting (CAD), Survey Technician, or GIS Mapping specialist. All of these careers assist civil engineers on a daily basis.

With a lot of the design being performed on the computer, experience with CAD is highly recommended. Civil engineers also have to work with teams of professionals and with the public so good communication skills are also valuable.

What do you think youth should do to prepare for a career like this?

Stick with your interest in math and science classes! Also, start looking around outside and “see” all of the possibilities that you can design.

What do you feel the job outlook is for Civil Engineers?

Very promising! Because the nation’s infrastructure is always in need to upgrades and repairs, civil engineers will always be in need! Also, there is an alarming amount of civil engineers retiring within the next 10 years so we need as many engineers as we can get!

Please share any personal reflections on this career.

It’s very rewarding when your design is built! Watching people walk on the trail or drive on the road that you designed makes it fun. I have also had people thank me for making their new neighborhood street look “pretty” again.