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Angelica Pura: Something to Value

Thursday, May 3, 2018  
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Originally published in the Winter 2017-2018 edition of NC Currents

 

“I ’ve always been interested in water,” says Angelica Pura, a Designer in the Water/Wastewater Group at McAdams. During a visit to the Philippines as a young girl, Pura was surprised to see how difficult it was for people to obtain clean water. Drinking water had to be boiled and cooled prior to consumption. She remembers seeing people washing their clothes in a canal while, upstream, sludge was pouring in through a pipe. “It really opened my eyes,” says Pura.

 

 In college, she decided to specialize in biological and agricultural engineering. At the same time, she joined the NC State chapter of Engineers Without Borders, assisting with the implementation of a rainwater harvesting system as part of an 8-member team that traveled to Bolivia. “They needed help with water collection to store water during their dry months,” she recalls. The following year, she became the project lead for a new initiative in Bolivia, undertaking the research necessary to get the project underway.

 

 When McAdams came to call, Pura was ready and eager to come on board and continue her work with water. Because the Water/Wastewater Group is small, she has the opportunity to work on the design of a wide variety of infrastructure, including pump stations, water mains and sewer outfalls. “I have to be mindful of the system as a whole,” says Pura, adding that she also works on AutoCAD to draw designs for other engineers in the office. “Before development can start, we have to conduct a sewer basin study to predict the amount of wastewater that will be produced from a particular plot of land.” She finds the work interesting. The most challenging part, she notes, is working both within existing boundaries and within budget, especially in a locale such as Raleigh, which has been growing rapidly in the last few years. “It’s great to see people making it work because it has to,” says Pura, adding that her work also extends to Durham and Chapel Hill. “It’s really exciting.”

 Over the past year, she has been grateful for the mentorship of Marco Menendez, Director of the Water/Wastewater Group. “He’s a really good mentor,” says Pura. “I’ve learned a lot.”

 

 It was Menendez who encouraged the young graduate to attend her first NC AWWA-WEA Annual Conference in 2016. She sat in on different presentations and enjoyed the many networking opportunities. “I’m even more excited this year now that I have more knowledge of the industry,” says Pura. “It’s definitely good exposure.”

 

 Before the 2017 conference, she spent some time helping Menendez review and score articles for the Young Professionals Track of the annual conference. Now that she is not as busy with wedding preparations – Pura was married this summer– she anticipates having more time for volunteering. In August, she joined the Mentoring Program at NC State and is currently working with two engineering students. She is also scheduled to deliver presentations about working as an engineer to some of the first year classes.

 

 At the same time, Menendez is encouraging her to think ahead to the 2018 NC AWWA-WEA Annual Conference with the possibility of delivering a presentation on a project she is currently undertaking for McAdams. The project involves redesigning a pump station for a coastal community.

 

 She enjoys having the chance to go out into the field to visit the wastewater collection system and interact with clients. “It’s motivating for me to know why I’m doing what I’m doing,” says Pura. “Working in the field makes the work more interesting in so many ways. I can wrap my head around a project a lot better when I can visually see it.”

 

 The projects that she is working on are also an opportunity for her to build her skills in water and wastewater so she can apply them to other projects and share them with other organizations such as Engineers Without Borders. Pura notes that McAdams encourages its staff to give back to the community through their program McAdams Shares. For instance, the company partners with a local school by inviting 10 at-riskstudents to visit their facilities.

 

Employees welcome the students over the lunch hour and show them the work they do. “I think exposure is so important,” says Pura. “If you can touch even just one student… I’m so lucky to be working with such a great team. You can build such a good support system at McAdams. That’s something to value.”  


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