Alumni Q&A with Tina Pint, '99 grad, hydrogeologist and Vice President at Barr Engineering, Minneapolis, MN
What did you know about hydrogeology as a new student arriving at UW-Eau Claire?
I don’t think I knew anything about hydrogeology as an incoming freshman. As a child, my family took frequent camping trips in the Upper Midwest, and I was always fascinated by the rocks and the mining history in northern Minnesota. But I definitely didn’t know anything about how water moved through the rocks, or that you could make a career out of studying it.
How did you come to choose this major? What led you to that decision?
I became a geology major a bit by default. I knew I liked science and math, but beyond that I had no idea what to major in. I took biology, chemistry and physics classes, and none of those were a good fit. Second semester of my sophomore year, I took my first geology class and was hooked! I liked the combination of getting out in the field and understanding the more analytical side of structural geology and hydrogeology.
Upon graduating, what jobs or specific careers in the field most appealed to you? Why? What should a prospective student know about the field of hydrogeology?
I really got into groundwater modeling while at UWEC and knew that was something I wanted to pursue further. The process of developing a groundwater model and then using that model to answer questions is both challenging and fun! There are so many types of hydrogeologic problems to solve, from helping a city develop a new water supply well to figuring out how to best clean up contaminated groundwater to assessing potential water quality impacts from a new mine.
Talk about the geology program and faculty, and what you feel is essential for young Blugolds to know about this department.
Geology majors at UWEC have amazing opportunities to work on real-world problems though their course work, research opportunities, and internships; these types of experiences are highly valued by future employers and give students a chance to understand the types of jobs available to them. The equipment and facilities available to the students is impressive. And every time I get back to the department, I’m amazed by how much the professors sincerely care about the students and make sure they get the most out of their time at Eau Claire.
Explain a bit about your current job, what you love the most, any real surprises you discovered about the work, and future goals you have in this field.
I’ve spent most of my career working with mining companies, helping them assess potential water quality and water quantity impacts from their operations, and then working with engineering teams to find ways to minimize those impacts. As my career has advanced, I’ve gone from being the field hydrogeologist conducting pumping tests to being the groundwater modeler. Most recently, I’ve been overseeing an integrated team of engineers and scientist addressing a range of complex water-related problems. I love the variety of the work, the opportunity to work with really smart people on interesting projects, and the flexibility that consulting brings. The only goal I have at this point is to keep having fun and finding challenging projects to work on.