This is a part of a series of profiles for Engineers Week, Feb.16-22, 2020.
Victoria Simanca admits she doesn’t like surprises. She likes structure, things following a process. But life doesn’t always work that way. It’s full of surprises, like the time she was studying to be a civil engineer at UCF and, as a requirement, took an introductory course in environmental engineering.
She didn’t know anything about environmental engineering and wasn’t familiar with what environmental engineers do. So it came as quite a surprise to her that a profession she had never heard of had suddenly ― and on the first day of the intro class, no less ― changed her career plans.
“I grew up traveling and camping. I was pretty close to nature,” she says. “The thought of being able to help preserve our environment really caught my attention. After the first day in class I knew I needed to switch majors.”
Her decision turned out to be transformational, leading to an internship with OUC in 2018 and a full-time position as a Water Distribution Engineer the following year. Simanca works on meeting the potable water needs of new residential and commercial developments all over Orlando. Her job involves working with internal and external engineering and construction teams and troubleshooting unforeseen issues with planning and installation of water pipe connections.
The daughter of two mechanical engineers, Simanca says she grew up watching her mother and father solve complicated work-related problems. “They were really good at solving problems, and they passed that on to me,” she says. “I’m drawn to solving problems on my own.”
One problem she attempted to solve on her own was the environmental impact of her eating habits, switching to a plant-based diet five years ago. “I don’t eat any animal products, only grains, legumes and vegetables. I try to shop at farmer’s markets, too, so my food is directly sourced and does not involve at lot of production and transportation.”
To reduce her carbon footprint even further, she would like to buy an electric vehicle when it’s time for a new car, she adds.
Describing herself as introverted, Simanca says the past year at OUC has helped her become more collaborative and team oriented.
“I have definitely learned how to deal with people and be more customer focused,” she says. “Thankfully I have a whole team helping me.”