Interview with Sudhir Murthy
Manager – Research & Laboratory
DC Water and Sewer Authority
42 years old
What are your interests outside of work?
I am usually engaged in various activities with my family. I also try to catch up on my reading whenever time is available.
Why do you “work for water?” What do you love about the job?
I knew about water treatment when I was 6 or 7 because my Dad was a civil engineering contractor who built treatment plants and took me to his various job sites. The awareness about the importance of water for public health and the environment came early to me. Working at a utility is a unique opportunity because what you do positively impacts the environment on a daily basis. Every day presents new opportunities and I get a great deal of satisfaction from the creative aspects of my job.
Tell us about how your educational path that led you to this career.
I have a BS in Civil Engineering from India and an MS in Environmental Engineering and PhD in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech. I knew I wanted to be an engineer, the question was, what kind? Environmental engineering education seemed the best way to apply my interests in chemistry and biology. Working at the interface of science and the environment can really make a difference in people’s lives.
What does a typical day on the job look like?
Most of my projects, especially research and development, involve building teams from academia to practice, from conceptual research to full scale design. It means working with people with different perspectives, from all over the world to innovate and develop successful projects, and that means a lot of communication. I enjoy encouraging engineering creativity and maintaining an open atmosphere to build successful projects.
What skills and training transferred well into your current career?
My formal education transferred very well into my career. Beyond that, I’d say communications skills and having empathy have been very important in understanding and building upon individual strengths to advance team and project success.
What is important about the work you do today?
My work helps the environment and the public on an immediate, daily basis. And our teams work to create innovative projects that will make a lasting, positive impact.
What are some of the more tangible benefits of working in water?
There is a strong national and global need for water infrastructure. This requires engineering resources to build and maintain water infrastructure. Engineering resources are also needed to meet the new challenges for the future, such as climate change, population growth and rapid urbanization, and opportunities in the water sector are quite unlimited.
Why should others consider working in the water sector?
The water sector infrastructure needs within the United States are huge... There has also been an unprecedented advancement and growth in newly emerging economies of the world... There is ample opportunity for those with engineering skill sets to help protect our water resources for future generations.