Hurricanes are one of the most feared natural disasters. Hurricane waters are far more dangerous, although they are assessed by wind power. According to the National Hurricane Center, 88% of hurricane-related deaths in the U.S. are caused by storm surges, floods, and other water-related problems. Engineers around the world are working to control the flow of water in storms. In New York City, Vanessa Galvez is one of the engineers who focus on rainwater mitigation.
Galvez grew up in Queens, New York, as the daughter of Salvadoran immigrants. Like most future engineers, Galvez, as a child, enjoyed taking things apart to see how they worked. In 2008 she graduated from high school at Thomas Edison Vocational and Technical High School in Jamaica, Queens, with a special focus on AutoCAD and technical drawing. She became interested in civil engineering after seeing a documentary about dike failure in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. The poor structure design of the US Army Corp. of Engineers in 2005 caused 80% of New Orleans flooding and damaged over 100,000 homes and businesses.
Galvez was the first generation of her family to attend college and New York University attended Tandon School of Engineering in Brooklyn. She worked as a teaching assistant for her department, oversaw a laboratory and assisted other students in a robotics project. She was also a research assistant in the development of lightweight concrete samples for future construction projects. She participated in the Concrete Canoe Competition, the American Society for Civil Engineers and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. In 2012 she completed her Bachelor of Science in civil engineering.
Galvez joined the New York Department of Design and Construction as a resident engineer. On the same day, hurricane Sandy struck New York City, killing 44 residents and causing approximately $ 19 billion in damage within 48 hours. After the devastation, New York City invested in protective measures for its most vulnerable areas. In 2016, at the age of only 26, Galvez led the construction of 164 Bioswales in the Maspeth, Queens region, worth $ 3.8 million. Bioswales are green spots in urban areas filled with extremely absorbent soil and specially selected plants to drink runaway rainwater. Bioswales protect urban sewage systems from storm overload and reduce the risk of flooded roads. Galvez & # 39; reflective management brought her a page in Erin Twamley's Everyday Superheroes: Women in STEM Careers.
In 2018, Galvez left the NYC Department of Design and Construction to work as an Associate Project Manager for New York City Transit. Last year she took a job as an office engineer at Jacobs, a civil engineering company focused on sustainability and inclusion. She is currently working on a pedestrian bridge project in the Bronx.
Are you interested in empowering women in the MINT areas? The group women in science (Wi-Sci) wants you! Email President Emily Larner ([email protected]) for more information.