DEP Women in STEM: Trina Vielhauer

Name: Trina Vielhauer

Division/Title: Water Restoration Assistance, Director

How long have you been with DEP: This May will be 17 years! I spent two years in the Office of General Counsel, nine years in the Division of Air Resource Management, four years in the Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration and now almost two years with the Division of Water Restoration Assistance.

Education/Background: Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from Bowling Green State University in Ohio; Masters in Public Policy Administration and Law Degree from The Ohio State University

What profession did you think you would be when you were growing up? I really didn’t know. I was always good at math, but I didn’t see it as a career or anything. I liked sports and liked to write so for awhile I thought a sports writer/journalist. Then I thought about child psychology. In high school I shadowed a family friend that practiced child psychology and ruled that out! When I entered college, I was still undeclared.

What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM? A great professor and class in college. I took a course called intro to environmental science and was hooked! The lectures were interesting and the issues/problems were complicated. I couldn’t stop thinking about the class, the issues and possible approaches to solve problems. I finally thought, “This is something I could be interested in and excited about as a career!”

What excites you about your work at DEP? I work with great, hard-working and dedicated people every day and they keep me going on those crazy days when nothing goes as planned! Our division helps fund a lot of important local projects through state and federal grant and loan programs. At the end of the day, it is good to know that we’ve helped the citizens of Florida with so many important wastewater, stormwater and drinking water projects as well as beach nourishment and non-mandatory land reclamations.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why? That’s a tough one! I’ve had a couple of tough and interesting permitting issues (I was even a witness at a DOAH hearing which was exciting!) and some challenging projects in DEAR. Reviewing and learning about air pollution control technologies was pretty exciting, too. Right now I think it is pretty cool to have the opportunity to help put together the new Division of Water Restoration Assistance. I like trying to find synergies between programs and encouraging creativity with our staff. I enjoy hearing their ideas of how we can work together to improve all aspects of our programs.

What is your favorite piece of technology or equipment you get to use in your job? Definitely my computer which is probably boring compared to other answers you get.

Why is it important to get more students, including females, interested in STEM? We need bright minds to solve the challenging environmental issues we face today. I think it is valuable to have people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives as you analyze problems and identify solutions.

What is your best advice for girls interested in science? Keep working hard and find someone to talk with about career paths and options. Don’t limit your thinking – your possibilities are endless!

I love science/engineering/technology because… It influences all areas of your life. The way I approach problems at work- as well outside of the office- reflect my scientific background and training.

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