Three key pillars — Approachable People, Proven Capabilities, and Global Experience — are the foundation of the TYLin brand and the reason for our success.
Imagine being drawn to a career by the soothing embrace of water, the allure of nature, and the profound sense of connectedness it offers. This captivating journey begins with Walt Walker, whose water and environmental engineering career was inspired by his deep-rooted love for water and the serenity it brings to parks, waterfronts, and green neighborhoods. Discover how Walt’s connection to the natural world propelled him into a profession where water, community, and the built environment converge, driving his unwavering dedication to improving the quality of life for all.
What or who inspired your pursuit of a career in water engineering?
My inspiration for a career in water first started with my love of water and nature and the peace and connectedness it gave me whenever I was around parks, waterfronts, green neighborhoods, etc. That connection still exists to this day. When I experienced the ways that water and nature intersect with people, community, and our built environment – as a student, a professional, and a volunteer – and that not everyone experiences those quality-of-life benefits, I was sold that this was the career for me. I also need to credit two of my professors at Rowan University who took the time to mentor and connect me to project and volunteer opportunities that solidified my choice in the water sector.
What keeps you motivated at this point in your career?
What keeps me motivated is that there is always something to do, and there is a challenge to address every day (I feel this is somewhat connected to my approach to running/racing, in how I push and positively motivate myself). I also want to contribute to the increasing evolution and accountability of our industry towards a more inclusive holistic design direction and that centers equity in the design approach.
What industry trend will impact your field the most significantly in the next decade?
Further realization that our fates, our decisions, and our infrastructure (both physical and social) are interconnected. Hence, our need to stop working in silos and to grow both our technical and interpersonal skills as having equal value.
What impact do you hope to make in the next five years of your career?
I hope to inspire people to seek their passions and purpose. To show people you can be a creative in this industry, to lead and to mentor, and to know you are not alone as you figure all that out.
If provided a $1M investment to solve a major challenge within the water and environment sector, what problem would you tackle?
That is a tough and weighty question. My immediate thought is that is a lot of power in one person’s hands. I would think about how to transfer that power and resources to communities who have been historically excluded/disadvantaged so they could share in the decision-making process about where that investment is most needed.
What has been the defining moment of your experience at TYLin?
Representing Greeley and Hansen, that moment is more of a current state/process – I have started to collaborate with the TYLin family of companies (teammates from TYLin, Introba, Sam Schwartz, etc.) both on actual projects and brainstorming sessions relating to water equity, environmental justice, and climate/sustainability. I’m really excited to be part of this community of practice with people who share my values and goals to be part of something bigger than ourselves. So that defining moment is now, the present, because this is water and infrastructure’s moment.
What have been the skills/strengths that have helped you succeed most in your career thus far?
There are so many! Allow me to ramble a bit here. From a client/community/team perspective, the ability to listen; the will to go above and beyond and put in the extra time to get the job done, and done right; accountability and self-reflection; empathy and humility; willingness to try new approaches; grace for oneself that mistakes will be made and that we learn from them; grace and space for our teammates as well, to learn and grow; and awareness of when it’s time to rest because burnout is real.
What are your professional goals? Where do you see yourself at TYLin in 5 years?
As of now, my primary goal is to grow our Equity Practice – not just by winning projects/programs, but more so to help develop and bring on folks representing their respective regions and expertise, guided by their passions and own stories, to be a part of the movement. To accomplish this, more investment and resources are needed in education and skills building, time to mentor, and space to ideate. I also firmly believe that our hiring approach must be more expansive/inclusive in who we recruit (for example, planners, DE&I professionals, HBCUs, and non-engineers in the water sector) and expanding our beliefs on who is “qualified” (non-traditional education path, trade skills, community colleges). Equity is the process; justice is the outcome.
Recently, TYLin unveiled a new brand position – Connecting people, places, and ideas. How does this apply to the work you do?
This is a culture and a mindset. This applies to the purpose of the work that I do every day as an engineer, designer, and neighbor. How we feel, how we act, and what we value.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to others about their careers?
Know the strength of practicing humility. We can accomplish so much when we ask questions, learn from others, and are comfortable in our vulnerability. Understand the power of the collective. I believe that helps to allow each other to build trusting relationships and find clarity in our purpose.