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Aleah Henry, BEBSC '13

Say yes to passion

Students are often urged to build a career by following their passions. It is a strategy that Aleah Henry says has led her to interesting places.

“I think at any point throughout school or my career I have generally not been doing what I thought I would be,” she admits. “It seems that whatever plan I have in mind changes as I discover more about what I love to do and how I can add more of it to my life.”

The 2013 Chemical and Bioengineering grad is currently working for an engineering consulting firm as a process engineer in wastewater treatment and resource recovery.

“My role ranges from assessing, designing and optimizing treatment systems to equipment selection,” she says. “I’m typically involved in field testing, biological and process modeling, client workshops and sizing.”

The job is a change from previous roles in research and product development, but Henry says she is frequently surprised how “tidbits of knowledge picked up along my journey can be used somewhere else.”

“What I like most is the number of opportunities to improve wastewater treatment and the potential to work towards both sustainability and self sufficiency,” she says. “The industry is full of innovation aimed at improving environmental impact, and there is a supportive community to build personal connections as well.”

Among the connections that Henry has made is the Water Environment Association of Ontario (WEAO), where she serves as a member of the board of directors.

She says her short working life has already had many highlights, including watching a product she helped design go from hand sketches and lab testing to being part of a salable product line.

“Another was commissioning a pilot system in Singapore that truly gave meaning to 'whatever can go wrong will go wrong',” she says.

“There is immense satisfaction to be had from thinking on your feet to solve problems and finding creative solutions to the issues at hand.”