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Cari Ferrell

Civil Engineering, Class of 2009
Tetra Tech

"Learn how to ask good questions."

Cari Ferrell works full-time for an international environmental engineering firm, where she has a broad spectrum of remediation projects. Her work ranges from the initial phase of a project to the final stages, and everything in between.

Ferrell said that the ability to ask questions is a benefit both in school and in the workplace.

“Something I wish I had known in college was how important it is to learn how to ask good questions,” Ferrell said. “It may seem silly, but when you’re starting a new job or starting a new project, you are given some information – whether it be on the treatment system or the monitoring regimen – but you need to learn how to identify what you are missing and what you don’t completely understand and resolve the questions up front. I was never good at asking questions in class mostly because I could never think of any! The questions only came while doing the homework. That kind of quick critical thinking is a large part of what consulting engineering is all about!”

Ferrell has always had a lot of support from the men in her life.

“My husband, father, father-in-law and brother are all very supportive of my career in civil engineering. My husband is an engineer and grew up watching his mom work as a civil engineer, so he is very understanding of the ability of women to balance family life and a technical career.”

Ferrell’s father and father-in-law are also engineers and, in her words, “They love to have a daughter (and daughter-in-law) that is an intelligent, hard-working problem solver!”

In regards to marriage and family, Ferrell said, “I'm not sure if I would have had children sooner or later than I plan on if I chose a different career or life path. A career in engineering has helped me to mature in ways that I believe that will help me be a better mother when that time comes. I probably wouldn't have gotten married as early as I did if I didn't do engineering - that's where I met my husband!”