Nick Silverman, class of 2001, found his physics and mechanical engineering skills easily transferred to civil and environmental engineering.
After completing his B.S. degree in Physics-Engineering at W&L he earned a master's degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Washington, but a class in his last quarter of study there changed his life and career. The class was watershed management in the fisheries department, and led him to redirect his focus to civil and environmental engineering. In one of those "Aha!" moments, he realized that it was possible to combine his engineering background with his passion for rivers...a momentous realization at the time. He has worked in this field for several years as a project engineer with Natural Systems Design, specializing in river and wetland restoration design around the Seattle area.
"One of the things that I realized when redirecting my career path was that the skills one builds from engineering are universal within all the disciplines. So even with my background in Mechanical it was very easy to switch over to Civil & Environmental. My W&L physics-engineering degree taught me how to problem solve...this is what is most fundamental about engineering and what can be transferred to any other field...I use these skills every day."
Although he has a professional license in Water Resource Engineering in the State of Washington, he wants to focus more on analysis and research in this field, so he has entered a PhD program in River Restoration at University of Montana.
Nick's interest in rivers stems from his days kayaking at Goshen Pass on the Maury River. When he graduated he knew he wanted to be near rivers and in a place where he could kayak whenever he wanted. The strong academic program at University of Washington, and the area's proximity to rivers, drew him to Seattle. Likewise, the chance to work with a hydrologist who has a background in international water resource issues drew him to University of Montana for his PhD work.