Alice Bard Environmental Specialist ll
Robert Cowdery

“Every day there are new questions and new puzzles to solve. For a person who is constantly curious, it is nearly the ideal environment.”

~ Robert Cowdery

Robert Cowdery
Environmental Engineer

Division of Waste Management, Tallahassee
 

After working for a private sector environmental consulting firm for 12 years, I accepted a position with the Department of Environmental Protection as a Professional Engineer III in the Bureau of Waste Cleanup, Hazardous Waste Cleanup Section to restore some balance to my life.

My position affords me the opportunity to study and evaluate the work of all 11 of the Section’s consultant contractors. This has allowed me to learn new and better ways of doing things. I also get to see the results of design decisions for dozens of new remedial installations each year. Because of this, I have the best opportunity in the world to learn what type of approach is most likely to work at any particular site. Every day there are new questions and new puzzles to solve. For a person who is constantly curious, it is nearly the ideal environment.

Typically, my time is divided amongst the review of technical documents; meetings with consultant contractors to discuss strategies and design approaches; evaluation of results; troubleshooting problems; communicating lessons learned to Section staff; and special projects. Our Section has a great group of people. They are smart and hard-working, and there is a very free exchange of knowledge and friendship among us all.

DEP is a great place for an engineer who wants to focus on answering questions about “why” certain processes or methods work (or fail), because we see vastly more designs in a year than any engineer in private practice. We don’t spend the hundreds of hours per site on the details of design and the labor of construction and start-up that the consultants do, so we get to focus on the larger issues and questions.