Interview with Dr. Andrea Welker
Geotechnical Engineer and a Villanovan Environmental Leader!
Worried…Don’t BE! The Doc is here!!!
A little Introduction about Dr. Andrea Welker:
Dr. Welker teaches a Geotechnical Engineering class right here in Radnor, PA, at a little school called Villanova. She is the publisher of many research papers and is currently doing research on using soil to control the effects of storm water.
For those of you who are a little unsure about Geotechnical Engineering, Here’s some helpful background information:
Geotechnical engineering is the branch of civil engineering concerned with the engineering behavior of earth materials. Geotechnical engineering is important in civil engineering, but is also used by military, mining, petroleum, or any other engineering concerned with construction, on or in the ground.
This Blogger was given the pleasure to interview the lovely and kind, Dr. Welker and I have to say I was impressed! Not only does she get HUGE AWESOME POINTS for talking to a random stranger on her free time (If you’re reading this Dr. Welker just wanted to say I appreciate your disregard for my random email to meet you) but she was also very informative! Here’s a summary of what we talked about…
In a few sentences what is geotechnical engineering?
DOC: Geotechnical engineering considers soil as a building material for infrastructures. It can be broken down into two categories: the first focuses on its use to build and the second considers the soils importance in environmental issues, such as the hydrologic cycle.
Why is it important and/or beneficial to preserving the state of our earth?
DOC: Geotechnical engineering is important in getting rid of unwanted rain efficiently and to prevent stream issues down the road. We try to solve problems like flash floods and eroded banks, water temperature changes, and contaminated water that kills our fish and plant life.
Could you describe your research in the field with geotechnical engineering?
DOC: My particular research deals with the use of soils to control storm water. We look at rain gardens and the type of soil they need. For example they might need soil good for removing pollutants, supporting plant life, and most importantly getting rid of unwanted rain water. The solution is to manage the “small storms” which account for 80 to 90 percent our excess water.
Can you recount the moment when you knew that geotechnical research was the field you wanted to pursue?
DOC: I knew I wanted to do this my senior year as an undergrad. I was heavily attracted to the geo-environmental aspect of the field.
How has your life in the field influenced your view of the natural world, and mankind’s role in it?
DOC: I feel like I know what I have to do:
It’s better to live in a developed world but we have to minimize the effects of development. An example: vegetated storm water control.
How has Villanova University either aided or hindered your research and the field?
DOC: The University has been very supportive. The facilities people are a big part of the support we get from the University. They have allowed us to construct experiments on campus. Villanova has become our own “outdoor laboratory.”
As a college student what can we do to be an environmental leader?
DOC: It’s hard to understand what the people of the future would want or need, so to be an environmental leader you have to make changes NOW! Work on obtaining the best life you possibly can now. Do things in your life that minimize the negative impact a developing world has on the environment.
*** The words in bold are paraphrases of what the doctor said not her exact words, but something close.