#Eweek2020 Spotlight | Chelsea Billingsley

Just add water

For National Engineers Week 2020, we’re sharing stories from Cushing Terrell’s engineering talent to learn more about how they chose their profession and what makes them tick. 

What inspired you to become an engineer?

My older brother, Tyler, inspired me to become an engineer. Going into college, I didn’t have a clear direction of what I wanted to do, and I remember thinking his career path seemed both cool and challenging. He’s also a water/wastewater engineer (although he prefers the *clean* water side).

Scott Weisbeck, a civil engineer in our Livingston office, was an early mentor for me when I joined Cushing Terrell. He was the first person who took the time to walk me through calculations, rather than just pointing me to a spreadsheet. I definitely valued his willingness to help me learn and grow.

What is your area of expertise and why did you choose it?

I was “open option” for my first two years of college and had considered switching to biology. However, I was interning with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s (CDPHE) Drinking Water Engineering Section at the time, which guided me to my particular discipline of water/wastewater. The engineers at CDPHE are incredibly knowledgeable about water treatment, but the real differentiator is their passion for providing safe drinking water and cleaner environments.

Tell us something about the field of engineering that is surprising or not common knowledge.

According to NCEES (National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying): There are about one million licensed professional engineers in the United States, and the U.S. population is about 320 million. From this you might estimate that 1/320 of the population — about a third of a percent — are professional engineers. So, consider joining our ranks! The work we do is impactful and important.

What is one of your favorite projects and why?

They’re all my favorites when they’re successfully completed. I’m proud of being the project engineer for larger water/wastewater facilities, but feel my work on a smaller scale has been more fulfilling in a direct way.

One of my projects was for a water company in Colorado at the forefront of the Radionuclides Rule. We were able to design and implement changes to improve the public water system and protect people’s health. I find great satisfaction in knowing I helped make a real difference in that community.

What piece of advice would you give a young person interested in becoming an engineer?

I would say the best piece of advice would be to have faith in yourself. Also, never stop learning!

Chelsea relaxing in a life-sized camp chair after completing the ColderBOLDER 5k.

Are you involved in any activities that help engage students/young people in engineering?

This year, I’ll be working with the Denver Professionals chapter of Engineers Without Borders. I’m hoping that I can integrate some of the work with the Colorado School of Mines or CU Boulder student chapter.

Chelsea at a glance

  • Civil Engineer
  • Living in Denver, Colorado
  • Defining characteristics: Nerdy, verbose, passionate, loyal, stubborn
  • Interests: Learning new things! Cooking, snowboarding, playing with my dog, hiking, camping, basically anything outside. 

Read about the other engineers we’re highlighting for National Engineers Week 2020!