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Called To Environmental Engineering

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Austin Herman ’22 recently graduated from the engineering program and is now using his degree working for Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc. In addition to his engineering career, Herman is now in his second season of playing in the Pittsburgh Steeline, the professional drumline band that plays at all of the Pittsburgh Steelers home games.

As a student Herman focused his major on environmental engineering, learning about water, air pollution, and solid and waste management. In high school, he decided on Geneva because of the Christian foundation, faith integration, small campus, professor relationships, and the marching band.

As a high schooler, Herman would come and perform at Geneva for the Beaver County Band Festival, so he was already familiar with the campus.

Herman came to Geneva planning to major in engineering but wasn’t sure what kind. Although he was originally leaning toward civil engineering, after a job-shadowing experience he quickly realized that was not the path for him.

One day he was back home, on a hike, and was thinking through switching to environmental engineering. After the hike he was cleaning his room, and came across an old magazine that was about environmental engineering.

“When I opened it up there was an old letter tucked inside from my great-grandfather who had passed away a few years prior. In it he was talking about environmental engineering. From there I knew that was the path I wanted to take.”

Herman has always loved the outdoors and is an Eagle Scout, so after this confirmation, he knew he was on the right path.

Throughout school Herman commuted rather than living on campus, so he had to be intentional about creating community.

“I joined a lot of different groups and stayed on campus and interacted with classmates and professors as much as I could- this was really important. Finally, things just clicked and I had a great campus community.”

Often commuters can find it difficult to be plugged in or feel like they are truly a part of campus, but Herman emphasizes that if you are patient and intentional to get involved, it will happen.

“Everywhere you look on campus there is opportunity for Christian community. From simple interactions with peers, clubs, sports, really everything is about community and integrating faith and learning with your life.”

If you are looking for community, you will find it here.

In the classroom, Herman notes what he found to love the most about environmental engineering is recognizing how much work goes into basic things. By learning about things like water and waste management, he says, you come to appreciate a lot more of the world around you. Beyond the technical knowledge, what Herman appreciated most about his education is the faith-life integration.

“Anyone can sit down and watch a Youtube video and gather information about a topic. What I really loved about my Geneva education was integrating the faith into engineering, it created a completely different perspective on it.”

Herman explained how at Geneva you get to see other worldviews, a Christian worldview, and how your worldview influences your work.

“You are not only getting information, you are getting the full picture.”

Herman is employed as a landfill engineer and works on designing and inspecting landfills. His junior year a representative from the company came to talk to the class, and this is how he first heard about the job opportunities and company. Going into the job, like many professions, there was a lot of on-the-job training, but Herman notes his class on solid and hazardous waste, and his classes on water transportation help prepare him for the technical aspects of the job.

“One-on-one time with the professors, in addition to the classes, truly helped me a lot and prepared me for the professional world. There are a lot of field opportunities here at Geneva too, so I got to do a lot in the field as a student that helped me gain even more experience.”

austin-herman.jpgOutside of his job, much of Herman’s time is devoted to the Pittsburgh Steeline. While at Geneva, he participated in Geneva’s Marching Band all four years, and was section leader of the drumline for two years.

“Being a part of the band, playing, being part of parades, all if it are things I have always loved to do, and being able to incorporate that into my college experience was a lot of fun.”

Kenny, the drumline instructor at Geneva, used to be a part of the Pittsburgh Steeline. Kenny suggested to Austin that he try out with him.

“I went, not having high hopes, just thinking it would be a good experience…Kenny and I were both offered full-time positions in the drumline. I went through the audition process again this year and was offered a position again. That would not have happened without the experience and connections I gained at Geneva.”

When asked what one of his favorite moments in the drumline has been, Herman immediately said, “Kenny Pickett coming in for the first time, hearing the crowd roar, it was just an insane experience to have from the sidelines.”

Through band, relationships with professors, clubs on campus, and the courses he took, Herman can trace a lot of what he is doing now back to his time at Geneva.


-Kelsey Ingold ‘18

Oct 11, 2023

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