Water, Wetlands, and Marine Resources Management  Interviews

 
 

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dotWhat to Expect

Flushing the toilet, irrigating a garden, rainfall and the Grand Canyon all have one important thing in common: water. Water resources programs teach students about how and why rivers flow, have droughts or floods. Students become aware of water in the sky, on the earth's surface and underground.

Water is essential to the survival of all living things, including humans. Providing water for communities has come a long way from historical times when rainwater was saved in barrels and on rooftops. Therefore, in water resources programs, students also learn about the sophisticated ways to bring water to communities.

"Without the education gained through the water resources program I would be unable to perform the work I am currently doing. I was able to find a position in my field within a month of completing the course," says David Milliken. He graduated from a water resources engineering technology program and works as a water technologist with a municipal government. His studies gave him practical experience in addition to theory.

He also had an eight-month, paid work term arranged through his program. "This experience aided me in obtaining employment after graduation. We also had a great deal of lab time during our time at school. This enabled us to become familiar with the different types of equipment and practices we would encounter after graduation," says Milliken.

Kimberly Krause is a part-time graduate student. She is concentrating her studies in water resources and alternative energy at the University of Texas at Austin. She wants to work for a nonprofit organization researching alternative energy and water resources issues. Students entering a water resources program at the graduate level may need to refresh their knowledge in certain subject areas.

"For example, if your background is in business, but you are going to be taking a water resources course, you might want to take a geology course or environmental chemistry course first," says Krause.

Graduate students can expect a significant workload. There will be research papers and projects, homework for classes, and a great deal of reading. You may need to do self-directed research to get to know the subject matter.

"Homework difficulty and workload depends on the particular professor, but expect to spend up to 10 hours on assignments per course. That does not include time for research papers and projects," says Krause.

The workload is significant for students in college diploma programs too: "There is a lot of material to cover and not much time in which to cover it. Time management skills become very important," says Milliken. He spent two or three hours doing homework on school nights and double that on the weekends.

Textbooks are an additional expense for students. "I buy all of my textbooks to have as reference later on in my career," says Krause. She suggests saving money by using computer labs on campus instead of buying a laptop.

"If you don't mind used books, they are cheaper and usually readily available from previous students," says Milliken.

How to Prepare

"If a high school student is interested in this course, he or she should take physics as well as all math classes. These are the two fundamental principles that are used in the majority of classes," says Milliken.

Krause recommends earth science courses, physics, business courses, calculus, and world geography. "Computer skills and good writing skills are mandatory these days."

In addition to your schoolwork, international travel, social or environmental volunteering, and keeping up with current events will help prepare you for water resource programs and employment.