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Bridging Continents: Meet Shuhui Yang

May 22, 2024

Q&A: For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we’re spotlighting Shuhui Yang, E.I.T., a Project Manager helping the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) manage a range of local, government-administered infrastructure projects.

Where did you live before moving to the United States for college?

I’m from Jinan, in the Shandong province of China.

What led you to join Ƶ?

My path to Ƶ began after I completed my master’s in environmental engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder. A friend recommended the company, praising its inclusive environment and the kindness of its employees. This seemed like the perfect place to apply my skills and continue growing professionally.

Why did you choose to study engineering?

Interestingly, my major was chosen with a little help from a fortuneteller, as per my mom’s suggestion, who foresaw water playing a significant role in my success. My interest in physics, chemistry, and biology also steered me towards environmental engineering.

How has your heritage influenced your career in engineering and project management?

Growing up in China, I learned the value of hard work and respect, which I integrate into my professional life. Though I’m known to describe myself as ‘not the most confident,’ my mentor, Felecia [Basolo], has been incredibly supportive, helping me realize my worth and contributions to the team.

Why was Ƶ’ commitment to inclusion and diversity important in your decision to join?

Working in a friendly and inclusive environment makes daily interactions and overall life much easier. It’s important to me to be part of a company where collaboration and respect are valued.

From your perspective, why are diversity, equity, and inclusion important in engineering?

In engineering, you can’t work in isolation; collaboration is key. Working with approachable colleagues who are willing to help and answer questions fosters a productive environment that is conducive to project success.

Can you describe your role as a project manager?

This position is responsible for ensuring timely completion and quality control of engineering projects such as the construction and maintenance of shared use paths, roadway improvements, pedestrian bridges, streetscaping, and signalizing intersection upgrades.

Responsibilities include verifying compliance with industry standards at the local, state, and federal levels in addition to monitoring impacts to scope, schedule, and budget. Monthly presentations of project status are required at the state and local level in both internal and external audiences.

Currently, I’m managing eight projects. It’s a role where I’m constantly learning and adapting.

What advice would you give to young Asian-American engineers?

Be proud of your heritage and don’t hesitate to voice your ideas. Confidence is key, and embracing your cultural background can enrich your professional experience.

Are we doing enough to support Asian American voices in our field?

While there have been efforts, there’s always room for improvement. Simple initiatives like cultural appreciation days or sharing stories and customs from different countries can enhance understanding and inclusivity.

Why do you think food plays a significant role in cultural exchange?

Food is deeply embedded in Chinese culture, and for me, cooking Chinese dishes is a way to connect with my roots. It’s also a fantastic medium for sharing and experiencing different cultures, especially in a diverse place like Duluth, GA, where Chinese cuisine and ingredients are readily accessible.

 

Shuhui Yang specializes in environmental engineering, focusing on water quality and groundwater modeling. With a lifelong interest in the sciences, she has committed her academic and professional life to advancing understanding of hazardous in groundwater. At the University of Colorado Boulder, Shuhui excelled in using R (programming language) for data analysis and ArcGIS Pro for spatial analysis, making significant contributions to a comprehensive, water quality database review of over 800,000 samples.

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