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Finding Your Career Path as a Water and Wastewater Engineer

Staff Engineer Sam Taugher Discovers His Passion for Design and Construction Observation

By Regina Sibilia

Staff Engineer Sam Taugher found his career path in the engineering industry while working with his colleagues at Tighe & Bond. Taugher specializes in wastewater, water, and civil/site projects but when he first started out, he was unsure about the direction he wanted to take. It wasn’t until he began working on water treatment facility upgrades that work in water and wastewater sparked his interest.

Once he decided to pursue his career in water and wastewater, he started to gain experience on horizontal projects such as working on the design of sewers and water mains. One such project was his contributions to the Redundant Water Transmission Main Project in the City of Chicopee, Massachusetts. Taugher was involved in utility investigation work, construction administration and observation, and coordination between the contractor and the client.

“What I [like] about engineering [is] the hands-on feeling of it. You can go out to a construction site and see 8 to 10 guys pouring concrete or putting a pipe in the ground and as an engineer, you have a deeper understanding and appreciation for what goes into that process,” explained Taugher.

As his career has progressed, he has branched out into vertical construction projects within water and wastewater. Taugher is working on wastewater treatment facilities and water treatment plant rehabilitation projects as well as collection and distribution system projects, using a mix of his skills for design and construction observation. He recalled how his mentors gave him the opportunities to spread his wings.

“I was in Western Massachusetts doing horizontal construction projects and I was looking to transfer to our Westwood, Massachusetts office. A project [near the Westwood Office] opened and I hadn’t done any vertical construction before but [some of my senior colleagues] brought me in on the project. They knew I didn’t have a lot of experience, but they walked me through everything. I got to hit the milestone of moving from horizontal construction to vertical construction. They’ve continued to pull me into projects as a Construction Observer and now I’m even working on design jobs.”

Taugher has gone on to work on wastewater treatment facilities (WWTF) throughout Massachusetts such as the Edgartown WWTF upgrades on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. He helped to design the upgrades to a seasonal community’s wastewater treatment facility and collection system. As he builds his career, Taugher hopes to become a Project Manager to oversee a diverse set of projects that encompass all aspects of a wastewater system.

“I think I was lucky because I got exposed to different mentors at [Tighe & Bond]. Whether I have a technical question or if I want guidance on managing pieces of a project, I feel comfortable reaching out to my colleagues. I found that no matter what project you’re working on you have people to reach out to,” said Taugher.

He is now paying that kindness forward by becoming involved in mentorship opportunities for students aspiring to STEM careers of their own. Taugher has organized volunteer opportunities for him and his colleagues to share their knowledge through programs like elementary and middle school STEM fairs, workshops, and judging various student design competitions.