Engineers at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) hold a special role: they research, analyze and design systems that can minimize flooding or better treat wastewater.
To help cultivate entry-level engineering staff, the MWRD started a mentoring program in 2008 to help assistant level engineers become familiar with different aspects of the MWRD’s engineering operations. Since then, 55 engineers with varying degrees of education and experience have participated as either an entry-level staff member or as a more experienced engineer.
“We started the program to provide entry-level engineers with a professional contact on staff to assist them in developing a better understanding of the MWRD’s mission, as well as their own technical and professional skills,” explained organizer Scott Morishita, Human Resources Manager. “Major objectives include accelerating their familiarity with different facets of the MWRD’s technical operations, expediting career development and progress towards obtaining professional licensure, and providing an opportunity to network with other District engineers.”
Mentors expose their protégés to functions, responsibilities and initiatives of engineers in different work groups which gives each of them a better overview of how current assignments fit into the MWRD’s mission and provide different perspectives and ideas for career development, including preparation for the Illinois professional engineering exam.
“Mentors also learn from their protégés so the relationships tend to be mutually beneficial,” said Morishita.
Mentors and protégés may meet informally, or they may attend events such as lunch-and-learns and field visits coordinated by the Human Resources department. An added benefit is to increase the MWRD’s ability to attract and retain entry-level engineers by providing resources that will help them as they begin their career. The program also helps the MWRD develop all employees, which is part of the organization’s strategic plan.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for entry-level engineers to see how they may contribute to the MWRD’s mission,” said Commissioner Frank Avila, chairman of the MWRD’s Engineering committee. “It provides the setting to challenge and engage the new engineers and helps them determine which of the many opportunities they may pursue further in their careers.”
Our water environment…Take it personally!