Employees are the backbone of any organization and they play an invaluable role in creating a company culture that fosters growth, creativity, and collaboration.
Civica’s latest Employee Spotlight series aims to highlight the unique contributions of the various individuals behind the scenes. The first installment features a Q&A with Tatiana Morocho, a Field Service Technician at Civica.
Can you tell us about your background and what inspired you to pursue a career in the civil/environmental engineering industry??
I come from Ecuador, a beautiful country in South America with a breathtaking natural heritage. Thanks to a scholarship from the Government of Ecuador, I completed a double Major in Environmental Sciences and Environment and Health at the University of Toronto. After one year, I also pursued a master’s program in Regenerative Sustainability at the University of Saskatchewan. I was aware of the economic effort my country has invested in me, which increased my motivation to look for opportunities constantly.
My interest in the field started since I was a kid when I went camping and hiking with my family. We spent hours in the Ecuadorian jungles, appreciating the wildlife and the sound of birds and water running. During my junior year, I joined reforestation clubs and litter cleanup initiatives. I used to work on these projects for hours under the incandescent sun of my hometown, but I felt helpful because I was part of a solution. That was the sign! I wanted to see my surroundings (air, water, soil) as healthy and pollution-free.
My parents also knew an environmental degree was going to become essential in sustainable solutions for public and private sectors worldwide. Since then, I joined environment and sustainability clubs during my undergrad and grad schools and had the opportunity to work with passionate people who shared a similar goal.
What does a “typical” day in your job look like?
In the last few months, I have had a hybrid job style (outdoors and indoors). The fieldwork includes conducting manhole inspections in sanitary and storm systems, sending a 360 camera, and recording key points (MH cover, joints, wall, inlet/outlet). My day usually splits into 6 hours in the field and 2 hours driving while admiring the Ontario landscape. When I work at the office, I review around 25-30 videos of MH inspections, assess their conditions (MH location, possible sources of inflow/infiltration, and materials), and report results.
What do you enjoy most about your job, and what are some of the biggest challenges you face?
I enjoy the dynamics of the field service because I have been involved in different assessment projects to identify sources of inflow/infiltration. Some environmental monitoring techniques include fog and dye testing, dry and wet weather inspections, and flow equipment monitoring and calibration. Learning and conducting different services has helped me to grow my understanding of hydraulics. Teamwork might be challenging when staff has different educational backgrounds, training, or work style. However, I have managed to work as a team and accomplish the company goals by building trust and improving communication with field technicians and supervisors.
Can you share a recent accomplishment or project that you’re particularly proud of?
I was involved in the first phase of the Stormwater Management Master Plan, conducted in the Township of King. My main responsibilities were to locate, assess, and evaluate the conditions of stormwater management ponds and culverts. The inspections included photos, topographic surveys, and condition assessments. I want to highlight two positive aspects of this project. The whole team showed professionalism and efficient communication allowing us to meet the project deadlines. The scope of the project aligned with my environmental interests as we provided guidelines for regulating flooding, mitigating erosion, and protecting the health of watersheds.
How do you stay creative and innovative in your work, and what inspires you to think outside the box?
I like to accomplish my tasks while demonstrating thorough concern for all the areas involved, such as identifying workplace hazards and making suggestions to optimize the surroundings. I always find a way to be at least 2% better than yesterday. I have achieved this personal goal by showing a willingness to take risks at work which has helped me to think outside the box. During the last months, I explored ways to be more involved in the company and accept new responsibilities, such as being part of the Health and Safety Committee, a Leadership Development Program, and assisting in QA/QC of two projects. Continuous learning and adaptation are part of my approach to staying creative and innovative.
What advice do you have for someone who is interested in pursuing a career in civil/environmental engineering, and what qualities do you think are important for success in this field?
Building strong networking is essential to keep doors open when looking for jobs. Start joining clubs, volunteering, research projects, and practicums during your undergraduate to meet new people and get inspired by professionals in your field. Seasonal jobs related to your field of study during school breaks will also help you to gain work experience. Keep an open-minded perspective when looking for jobs, so it will allow you to understand different branches of environmental sciences, which are needed to solve complex environmental issues. Being part of school projects and initiatives will help you to improve key skills needed in environmental careers, such as teamwork and written and oral communication. I highly recommend improving data analysis, Microsoft Excel, and modeling (GIS).
What do you see as some of the biggest trends and innovations in civil/environmental engineering right now, and how do you think those will impact the industry in the coming years?
There is a growing focus on sustainable and circular design, where engineers are developing innovative solutions that maximize resource efficiency and reduce environmental impact. This includes concepts such as green infrastructure, which involves the use of natural systems like permeable pavements for stormwater management. Additionally, there is a rise in the use of advanced technologies like data analytics and machine learning to optimize resource management, monitor environmental conditions, and improve decision-making. These technologies enable real-time monitoring, predictive modeling, and data-driven solutions for environmental challenges. These trends and innovations are expected to drive the engineering industry toward more sustainable and resilient solutions.
Can you talk about any new skills or areas of expertise that you’ve gained since joining our team?
I have gained analytical, critical thinking, and communication skills. Since we need to record quantitative and qualitative data on sanitary and storm systems, the results must be precise and accurate. Inspections are conducted in different locations with different environmental conditions that must be considered to reach conclusions and report results to other technicians and local government representatives. Therefore, the ability to communicate effectively with diverse stakeholders is critical in my current role.