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As part of our Member Appreciation Program, we are showcasing a member in our bi-monthly Board Member Spotlight. Our member spotlight recognizes members for their outstanding contributions to the profession and our local communities. For any questions regarding the program please email




Crystal Mena


Water Resources Engineer
Schaaf & Wheeler
ASCE Orange County Younger Member Forum


Where did you grow up?
I grew up at Huntington Beach, CA.

What made you want to become an engineer?
As a junior in high school, I was taking AP Environmental Science to learn about interrelationships of the environment and conducted lab experiments. I really enjoyed doing more hands-on work and was interested in learning about career options to help the environment. One day, my teacher shared with me that he was originally a chemical engineer who was interested in doing environmental work before switching to teaching. He encouraged me to do research on career paths for environmental engineers. The rest is history…

Favorite hobbies, sports, and interests outside of engineering?
I truly enjoy cooking! It’s fun to create an array of dishes and learn about cookery. If I’m not in the kitchen then I would be taking care of my flowers, herbs and vegetables. Lastly, you can catch me outside going to local food spots, hiking and taking photos of my adventures.

Finish this sentence: On Sunday mornings, you can usually find me...
In the kitchen cooking up eggs and bacon while my fiancé prepares his special pancakes for our tasty brunch.

What college(s) did you attend? Can you list your degrees, any honors, and involvement in engineering organizations during school?
Cal Poly Pomona M.S. Civil Engineering (MENTORES Scholar 2017); UC Irvine, B.S. Environmental Engineering (American Academy of Environmental Engineering and Scientist: External Vice President 2015-2016; Phi Sigma Rho: VP of Recruitment 2015-2014, Fundraising Chair 2013-2014; CAMP Summer Scholars Researcher 2014-2016)


Describe your responsibilities and some significant projects.
As a water resources engineer, I assist with hydrologic and hydraulic analyses for stormwater and design water systems. My responsibilities consist of computer modeling, design of pump stations, hydrology and hydraulic calculations, field work and prepare technical reports.

What project are you currently working on and what have you accomplished/what are your tasks? 

What is your favorite part about being a Civil Engineer?
My favorite part about being a civil engineer is working on projects to serve and protect the needs of the public.

What skills do you find most valuable to focus on in your career?
Design projects can be very challenging or frustrating at times but being able to communicate with others help resolve issues. The spectrum can vary from understanding the verbiage during team meetings to presenting information to clients with no engineering background. So, I would say communication skills are key in the industry.

What drew you to your specific career path? If you could start your career differently, what would you do differently?
Throughout school, I took a variety of courses in water treatment and water resources but found it difficult to specialize. Towards the end of graduate school, I realized that my interests lean towards water resources where I can be involved in a wide range of work. Now, I enjoy being able to work on computer models, draft plans and being able to go to the field on different days. There are times I wonder what if I had made different decisions in my past nonetheless, I am where I am meant to be.


How/Why did you get involved? Why did you choose to stay involved?
Being in graduate school can make you feel lonely, especially if it is a commuter school. I wanted to meet individual who are actively involved in growing as professionals while having fun. I stayed involved because the organization makes an impacted on people lives, whether it’s encouraging individuals to be leaders or providing a platform to give back to local areas.

How has ASCE impacted your work and/or what is your favorite benefit of your involvement?
ASCE has impacted my work by giving me the opportunity to meet the amazing individuals from different backgrounds in our industry that have the drive not only to make our profession better, but also our world.

Who is someone you Admire and Why?
There are several people that I am admire so its difficult to narrow it down. However, the individual who I look up to professionally is my mentor and friend, Remi Candaele. He has helped me grow as an engineer, provided me with guidance when I was unsure and always there when I needed him. He helped me build my foundation when I started my career and gives me great advice to grow as a person. Some of the biggest lessons I learned from him is to strives to do better and to stay grounded.

If you have one piece of advice to give to young professionals what would it be?
Don’t try to plan every detail of your life because you might miss out on an opportunity. Be fluid and embrace changes.

Lastly, what would be your personal motto?
It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. - Epictetus


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