Alum Spotlight: Haley Bauer '16
By Darian Leddy
For alumna Haley Bauer ’16, the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering at the University of Minnesota provided the perfect foundation for her career as a stormwater engineer at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
Among other duties, Bauer is responsible for reviewing the stormwater treatment systems and stormwater pollution prevention plans (SWPPPs) of various projects under the standards of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System/State Disposal System Construction Stormwater General Permit. She works in multiple areas, but mainly, she has been working with large-scale construction sites. The work that she does within the organization is essential for the environment and its water systems.
Her knowledge and diverse experiences from her years as an undergraduate student in the department helped her get to where she is today, specifically her environmental engineering courses. Bauer said she applies the knowledge she gained to her job today.
The course BBE 5513: Watershed Engineering had the most impact on her. As part of the class, students partake in a stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPPP) design course. Students take an exam at the end of that course and, as a result, are certified in the design of SWPPPs. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency partners with the department to teach this SWPPP design course, with engineers from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency—including Bauer—giving presentations on permit requirements. This has really brought Bauer full circle within her area of studies because she spends a lot of time working with similar SWPPPs.
Learning also extended beyond the classroom. She gained hands-on experience helping various professors and graduate students with their research for a summer and a few semesters.
Most of all, she enjoyed the close relationships with her professors and advisors.
“I was able to get to know my professors a little bit better than people are able to in 400-person lectures like I had at the beginning of college,” she said.
When she started at the U, she was undecided on a major. She initially wanted to study chemical engineering, but after she heard a chemical engineer speak at a panel, she realized she was not passionate about this field of study. After some exploration, she came upon the bioproducts and biosystems engineering major. She decided to focus on environmental and ecological engineering with a minor in environmental science, policy and management because she consistently was surrounded by nature’s beauty throughout her lifetime, making her want to maintain its beauty.
Growing up, Bauer spent most of her time outdoors. Her childhood home was located right next to the woods where she spent a lot of time exploring nature. It instilled in her a passion for sustainability and the environment at a very young age. Today, she continues to spend her free time outdoors whether it be hiking or running.
Bauer loves that she is able to protect the environment through her career, but her favorite part about her job is helping others protect the environment as well. She works with the Clean Water Revolving Fund loan program and the Point Source Implementation Grant program, which are financial assistance programs where low-interest loans and grants are distributed to different kinds of public entities looking to implement stormwater projects aimed at improving their water quality.
“It’s a super cool program, and I get to work with people who are doing this by choice like in cities that are working to improve their water bodies,” she said.
As an alumna, Bauer wants to see current students succeed and get the most out of their time here in BBE. Her tip for students is to make as many connections as possible because they may lead to new jobs or experiences. Bauer specifically recommends reaching out to professionals within your desired field of study. She also recommends getting as much hands-on experience as you can such as participating in research.
“I think the best way to get a feel for what you really enjoy doing and what you’d find engaging and fulfilling is to experience it first-hand,” she said.