International Women’s Day 2019

Women in Engineering

For the last 108 years, International Women’s Day (IWD) has taken place on March 8 all around the world. IWD is a global day of recognition celebrating the social, political, economic, and cultural achievements of women.
While the personal meaning of this day may vary, the global theme of equality and celebration resonates with a powerful force. From big cities and sprawling country sides, to tiny villages and corporate organizations, women and men alike are showing their support for all the women who make a difference each and every day.

The Women of Tata & Howard

At Tata & Howard, we feel particularly lucky to work alongside such talented and fantastic women. Of the 60 individuals who make up our firm across seven locations, 22 (or 37 percent) are women. On top of that, our two co-presidents are also women. Karen L. Gracey and Jenna W. Rzaza have more than 43 years in combined engineering experience, and go above and beyond to lead our team to its fullest potential. In an industry that has been predominantly dominated by men for the last several centuries, it prides us to see the strides and achievements being made within our company and others like us around the world.

Some of the Tata & Howard women in the Marlborough, MA office.

On International Women’s Day, and every day, we are thankful for the women who make up our team.
Christine Beliveau – Marketing Coordinator
Katie Carreira – Assistant Project Engineer
Justine Carroll, P.E. – Associate
Molly Coughlin – Assistant Project Engineer
Natalia Close – Engineer
Meghan Davis – Project Engineer
Karen Gracey, P.E. – Co-President
Chelsea Henderson – Engineer
Meagan Heslin, P.E. – Project Engineer
Eyleen Izaguirre – Engineer
Patricia Kelliher – Project Engineer
Jessica Kemp – Marketing Communications Manager
Kasey Kenyon – Engineer
Melissa Leach, P.E. – Senior Project Engineer
Maria Maynard – Manager of Human Resources
Jenna O’Connell – Engineer
Carmen Perkins – Staff Accountant
Jenna Rzasa, P.E, – Co-President
Allison Shivers, P.E.  – Project Engineer
Jan Stone – Administrative Assistant
Kaitlin Tallman – Engineer
Mary Vermes – Staff Accountant

A few of the Tata & Howard men showing their support for their colleagues on International Women’s Day in the Marlborough, MA office.

Today we celebrated with our usual ‘Friday treats’ and acknowledged all of the great work our female engineers and staff members do throughout the year.

Tata & Howard Celebrates Working Moms This Mother’s Day

Some of Tata & Howard’s working moms

Far more men than women traditionally pursue careers in STEM — science, technology, engineering, and math — and the field of engineering has long been male-dominated. In the early 1980s, only about 5% of engineers in the United States were women, and while that number has improved slightly, it still has a long way to go. Currently, about 14% of engineers and about 18% of engineering college students are women. And, according to the United States Census, those female engineers earn approximately 83% of what their male counterparts earn.

Not so at Tata & Howard. Since the firm’s inception in 1992, Tata & Howard has recognized and rewarded the value of female engineers. Nearly half of the firm’s initial 20 hires were female, and that trend has continued. Today, 34% of our engineering force is female, and about 20% of our total staff are working moms, including our two Co-Presidents, Karen Gracey, P.E. and Jenna Rzasa, P.E. In addition, we place great value on our support staff, many of whom are working moms. This Mother’s Day, we’d like to introduce you to our amazing working moms.

Christine Beliveau, Environmental Specialist, has been with the firm since 2012. Chrissie provides full administrative support to the Environmental Group as well as assists with a variety of other administrative and marketing functions. Chrissie is known throughout the company as the go-to person for any and all things Microsoft Word, and she maintains our company’s resume and project database. When she isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her husband, adult daughter, and young grandson.

Justine Carroll, P.E., Project Manager, has been with the firm since she graduated from Tufts University with a Masters of Science in Environmental and Water Resource Engineering in 2006. Justine serves as Team Leader for the Hydraulics Group and has expertise in hydraulic modeling. She is certified in WaterGEMS and InfoWater modeling software and holds training certifications in ESRI – ArcGIS Desktop II and III. Even though she is a busy working mom, Justine still finds time to spend with her young daughter and to volunteer as a swim coach for Special Olympics.

Amanda Cavaliere, Project Manager, has been with the firm since 2003, and serves as Team Leader for the Water System Improvements Group. She has specialized expertise in water and wastewater system designs as well as experience with site remediation and surveying. When she isn’t managing projects, she enjoys spending time with her son and daughter.

Karen Gracey, P.E., one of our two Co-Presidents, has been with the firm since graduating from the University of Vermont in 1998. She has specialized expertise in water system design, having completed over 25 hydraulic models and holding certifications in both WaterGems and InfoWater software. She also has extensive experience managing the firm’s Business Development activities. Even though she has a lot on her plate running the firm alongside Jenna Rzasa, she still finds time to bring her daughter to gymnastics and to spend time at the Cape with her family.

Patricia Kelliher, Project Engineer, has been with the firm since she graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 2010. At that time, Trish was splitting her time between Tata & Howard and the New England Patriots, for whom she was a cheerleader. Since then, she has retired from cheering, gotten married, and had a daughter, who keeps her on her toes when she isn’t designing water mains.

Maria Maynard, Manager of Human Resources, has been with the firm since 2008, and is responsible for all of our recruiting efforts and employee benefits. With over 65 employees, Tata & Howard keeps her very busy — as do her teenaged sons! Maria is an avid CrossFitter, and enjoys running alongside her beloved Pitbull mix, Ruby.

Carmen Perkins, Senior Administrative Assistant, has been with the firm for 11 years. She handles not only administrative tasks, but also helps out the accounting department. If there is ever a question where something can be found, ordered, invoiced, or mailed, Carmen has the answer! In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her two adult daughters.

Jenna Rzasa, P.E., our other Co-President, has been with the firm since she graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1997 and has specialized expertise in water system design. She is also a financial guru who manages Tata & Howard’s financials and accounting. When she isn’t busy running the business alongside Karen, she can be found watching her son’s track meets or running a few miles herself.

Allison Shivers, P.E., Project Engineer, joined the firm just a few months ago, and is already an invaluable member of the team. She has targeted expertise in wastewater system design, and she splits her time between our Lakeville and Marlborough offices. When she isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters.

Evelyn Sistak, Administrative Assistant, joined the firm in 2016. Originally from Florida, she is still getting used to the temperamental New England weather. Evelyn handles all things administrative, and is always willing to lend a helping hand whenever she is asked. When she isn’t at work, Evelyn enjoys spending time with her young daughter, who loves everything pink and purple.

Mary Vermes, Senior Staff Accountant, has been with the firm since 2010 and handles all aspects of the firm’s accounting. She is an integral part of the inner workings of the firm, and if it’s accounting-related, Mary will have the answer! When she isn’t crunching numbers, she is getting ready to welcome her first grandchild.

Heidi White, Marketing Communications Manager, has been with the firm since 2012 and handles the firm’s marketing activities. When she isn’t busy preparing proposals or writing blogs like this one, she enjoys kickboxing and spending time with her husband, two young adult sons, and three Yorkshire Terriers. She is also an avid runner who has run to raise money for the Jimmy Fund for the past six years.

National Engineers Week and Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day 2016

EngineersFebruary 21-27, 2016 is very special to Tata & Howard, as it is National Engineers Week. National Engineers Week — or “EWeek” — was first celebrated in 1951 by the National Society for Professional Engineers (NSPE), and since then has been celebrated annually in February during the week that contains the birthday of our nation’s first engineer — George Washington.

EWeek is an opportunity for organizations and individuals to highlight the importance of engineering skills such as math, science, and technical literacy. According to the NSPE, EWeek is a formal coalition of more than 70 engineering, education, and cultural societies, and more than 50 corporations and government agencies. Dedicated to raising public awareness of engineers’ positive contributions to quality of life, EWeek promotes recognition among parents, teachers, and students of the importance of a technical education and a high level of math, science, and technology literacy, and motivates youth to pursue engineering careers in order to provide a diverse and vigorous engineering workforce.

Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day

introduce_a_girl_to_engineering_dayStarted 15 years ago in 2001 as a joint effort between NSPE, IBM, and the National Engineers Week Foundation, Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day always falls during EWeek, this year on February 25. “Girl Day” is a special opportunity for engineers to introduce more girls and young women to engineering, and to show them the creative side of engineering and how it changes our world.

Engineering has long been a male-dominated profession. In recent years, engineering colleges and universities have focused on increasing enrollment of females, and currently the female undergraduate enrollment at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is 31%, at California Institute of Technology is 39%, and at Massachusetts Institute of Technology is 46%. However, the national average of female engineering students remains at a dismal 18%, and the number of employed female engineers is even more alarming: currently, only about 11% of our nation’s engineering workforce is female.

At Tata & Howard, we esteem engineers who embrace our core values of teamwork, efficient solutions, client satisfaction, integrity, and positive attitude, regardless of gender, and currently 25% of our engineering staff is female. Our female engineers are bright, energetic professionals who are valued every bit as much as their male counterparts; in fact, two of the six members of our Board of Directors are women. So in celebration of EWeek and Girl Day, we’d like to introduce you to some of our phenomenal female engineers.

Tata & Howard’s Women in Leadership

l to r: Karen Gracey, Justine Carroll, Amanda Cavaliere, and Jenna Rzasa
l to r: Karen Gracey, Justine Carroll, Amanda Cavaliere, and Jenna Rzasa

Karen Gracey, Vice President, Manager of Business Development and member of the Board of Directors, has over 17 years of concentrated water system experience. Karen holds a BS in Environmental Engineering from the University of Vermont and has been with the firm since she graduated. She has completing numerous hydraulic modeling projects, and is certified in WaterGems and InfoWater software. Among the projects strengthening her resume are a number of water main designs, Capital Efficiency Plans™, pump stations, and storage tanks designs. Additionally, Karen has concentrated experience in water system evaluations, with the completion of over 30 water distribution system studies and asset management plans.

Jenna Rzasa, Vice President, Manager of Finance and member of the Board of Directors, has over 18 years of concentrated water system experience with specialized expertise in water system design. She holds a BS in Civil Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and has been with the firm since she graduated. Her experience includes new source development, water system analysis, and water audits using the AWWA M36 methodology.

Justine Carroll, Project Manager, has 10 years of concentrated experience in water system modeling, holds a BS in Environmental Engineering and an MS in Environmental and Water Resource Engineering from Tufts University, and has been with the firm since she graduated. She is the Team Leader for the Hydraulics Group and is certified in WaterGEMS and InfoWater modeling software as well as in ESRI – ArcGIS Desktop II and III. Justine is also actively involved in Special Olympics and volunteers her time as a swim coach.

Amanda Cavaliere, Project Manager, has over 16 years of concentrated experience in water and wastewater engineering and holds a BS in Civil Engineering from Roger Williams University. She has been with the firm for 13 years and she is the Team Leader for the Wastewater Group. A seasoned expert in water and wastewater engineering, Amanda has worked on numerous wastewater treatment plants, water mains, and evaluations throughout New England.

Our Female Engineers

Molly Coughlin is a LEED Green Associate and is OSHA Confined Spaces Entry certified
Marie Rivers holds an MS in Environmental Engineering from UMass Amherst and passed her Massachusetts Professional Engineer exam in 2015
Marie Rivers holds an MS in Environmental Engineering from UMass Amherst and passed her Massachusetts Professional Engineer exam in 2015

In addition to Karen, Jenna, Justine, and Amanda, we have many other talented female engineers throughout the company. Melissa Leach, Project Manager in our St. Johnsbury, Vermont office, has over 20 years of engineering experience and holds a BS in Civil Engineering from Washington University. Project Engineer Valli Sukuru from our Waterbury, Connecticut office has over eight years of water engineering experience and holds an MS in Civil Engineering from University of Texas at San Antonio and a BS in Civil Engineering from National Institute of Technology in Warangal, India; and Project Engineer Meghan Dineen from our Lakeville, Massachusetts office has been with the firm since 2008, when she graduated from University of Massachusetts, Amherst (UMass Amherst) with a BS in Civil and Environmental Engineering. We also have women at the Assistant Project Engineer and Engineer levels who are valued members of the team and make significant contributions to the water, wastewater, stormwater, and environmental engineering consulting services the firm provides.

Tata & Howard is proud of our extensive engineering talent base, both male and female, and we look forward to meeting — and hiring — the girls and young women of today who will become the engineering stars of tomorrow. Happy National Engineers Week and Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day!

Engineering Week: Thursday, February 20 Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day

Thomas Edison. Alexander Graham Bell. These are household names, engineers well known for their brilliant inventions. But how many female engineers can you think of? Throughout modern history there have been many female engineers who have contributed to the advancement of society. As we celebrate Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, a part of Engineering Week, we’d like to familiarize you with three pioneers in women’s engineering, and to introduce you to a few of Tata & Howard’s own female engineers.

Three Amazing Female Engineers in History

Stephanie Louise Kwolek (born 1923)

stephCountless law enforcement and military personnel owe their lives to Stephanie Louise Kowlek, who discovered liquid crystalline polymers while working for DuPont. The result? Kevlar. Kevlar contains fibers that are five times stronger than steel, does not rust or corrode, and is extremely lightweight. Kevlar is best known for its use in the bulletproof vest, but it is also used for fiber optic cables, airplane fuselages, brake linings, boats, parachutes, skis, building materials, and radial tires. Ultimately obtaining 28 patents during her 40 year career, Kowlek was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1995, received the National Medal of Technology in 1996, was awarded The Perkin Medal by The American Chemical Society in 1997, and was named to the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2003.

Hedy Lamarr (1913-2000)

hedyHedy Lamarr is best known as a beautiful and sought-after movie star of the 1930’s and 1940’s, but she was actually a whole lot more. Lamarr invented a remote-controlled communications system for the United States military during World War II. Originally from Austria and born of Jewish parents, Lamarr was deeply troubled by Nazi attacks. When German submarines began torpedoing passenger liners, she said, “I’ve got to invent something that will put a stop to that.” Lamarr came up with “frequency hopping,” an electronics radio system that would enable Allied submarines to avoid signal jamming from enemies, thus allowing far more successful allied torpedo attacks. In later years, Lamarr’s “frequency hopping” is what made cell phones, Wi-Fi, and other wireless developments possible.

Lillian Gilbreth (1878-1972)

lillianThere’s a common saying that necessity is the mother of invention, and it seems to have been coined with Lillian Moller in mind. Moller is known as the “mother of modern management” due to her education, scientific nature – and being the mother of 12 children! Along with her husband Frank, Lillian’s life is the basis for the books “Cheaper by the Dozen” and “Belles on Their Toes,” written by two of their children about life in the Gilbreth household. Frank and Lillian sought endlessly to find the “one best way” to perform any task in order to increase efficiency and productivity. These studies are called time and motion studies, and are still applied today in Lean Manufacturing practices.

After her husband died of a heart attack in 1924, Lillian wrote four books and taught industrial engineering courses at various prestigious schools including Bryn Mawr and Purdue. President Hoover asked her to join the Emergency Committee for Unemployment during the Great Depression, and she worked as a consultant for the government during World War II. Lillian is credited with many inventions, including the foot-pedal trashcan, the electric mixer, the L-shaped kitchen, and refrigerator door shelves.

During her lifetime, Lillian Gilbreth received many honors. She became the first female member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1926, she was the first woman to be elected into the National Academy of Engineering, and she was also issued the very first membership in the Society of Women Engineers.

Tata & Howard’s Female Phenoms

shiraTata & Howard boasts some brilliant female engineers as well. As a firm, we employ a much higher percentage of female engineers than is the industry norm. Shira A. McWaters, P.E., pictured at right and who has been with the firm since its inception over 20 years ago, is an Associate and manages our Arizona office. Two of our six members of the Board of Directors are women, Karen L. Gracey, P.E., and Jenna W. Rzasa, P.E. In addition, we have many other female engineers at all levels throughout the organization, and their contributions to the firm are invaluable. Last week, we were able to stop some of Tata & Howard’s female engineers just long enough to pose for a photo. Pictured left to right are Jennifer Fruzzetti, Jenna Rzasa, Patricia Fox, Amanda Cavaliere, Hayley Franz, Vicki Zabierek, Justine Carroll, Marie Rivers, and Karen Gracey.

female engineers at THEngineering still tends to be a male-dominated field, and young girls are often overlooked even when their abilities clearly point to engineering. Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day is intended to bring awareness of the engineering profession to school-aged girls, and to encourage them in pursuing a career in the field. During engineering week, there are many special events across the country in which young girls can participate. Check out your local engineering universities for events. For online resources, visit or for fun activities and ideas to introduce the young girls in your life to engineering.

Women engineers have brought us not only the bulletproof vest and the basis for wireless technology, but also disposable diapers, windshield wipers, the compiler (which translates English into computer code), signal flares, noise cancellation technology, air pollution mitigation technology, and the Brooklyn Bridge – what could be next? Introduce a girl to engineering, and the possibilities are endless.