Rivera Applies Big-Picture Approach to Water Solutions, Advocacy

Sabrina Rivera has a question for you.

Do you know where your water comes from?

“I can talk to students and intelligent people, and the common thread to the responses is that people just don’t know,” Rivera said. “But it’s not something you learn in school. That’s something I want to push more in the future, teaching people that there is this complex net of pipes and treatment plants and pump stations that brings your water from many, many miles away.”

Rivera, P.E., M.ASCE, is a water resources engineer for ARCADIS in Los Angeles, president of ASCE’s Los Angeles Younger Member Forum, and chosen by ASCE as one of the 2017 New Faces of Civil Engineering – Professional.

Rivera is a big believer in the vital work civil engineers do for society, and she’s an even bigger believer in the importance of getting that message out to the society civil engineers work to protect.

“I don’t think engineers do a good job of advertising and promoting ourselves,” she said. “A lot of what we do is really exciting, but it’s not conveyed in the best way or we get caught up in the details. I think we need to start with the big picture.”

Rivera’s approach to her career has focused on the big picture. At ARCADIS, she has worked on reservoirs, on pump stations, and on the conceptual planning of an eight-mile sewer pipeline.

Then through her volunteer work, she has connected those lessons about water to the community. Through the very active ASCE L.A. YMF, she established an Engineers Week activity in 2014 that has since grown into a weeklong series of events connecting local civil engineers with students and members of city council. She’s the sustainability chair for a nonprofit, Playascape, which unites art with infrastructure.

And she’s exploring plans for a documentary film.

“I’m still working at the ground level of this, but I want to make a documentary about our infrastructure network,” Rivera said. “It goes through so many beautiful areas, and it’s so vast. I think it could be a very interesting thing for schools.”

ASCE will honor Rivera and all 10 New Faces of Civil Engineering at the 2017 OPAL Gala, March 16, in Arlington, VA. Tickets are available now.

See a complete list of ASCE’s 2017 New Faces of Civil Engineering – Professional, and read about the 2017 New Faces of Civil Engineering – College.

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