Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Brown Engineering Alumna Profiled in Boston Globe

Athlete finds place for her skills in engineering

There’s more to a sports field than meets the eye. Just ask Megan Buczynski, who earned first-team All-Ivy while playing field hockey at Brown University. Buczynski, a 30-year-old civil engineer, leads sports design projects at Stantec, a planning and landscape architecture company that has an office in Boston, often drawing upon her athletic background. She has designed artificial grass fields for Mount Holyoke College, as well for as for other softball, rugby, and track venues.

“Whatever your personal passions, there is a field of engineering where you can apply all of your skills,’’ she said. “When I was looking for jobs, I searched for engineering and sports, and was delighted to find athletic facilities as a special niche.’’

You’re changing natural grass to synthetic turf. What goes into it?
A lot of it is permitting, land development, and site work, figuring out drainage patterns, leveling the field, and installing the new system. The actual design can take about three months.

What are details that go into multisports fields?
Synthetic grass fields use different colors for game markings. We need to figure out the right boundaries and lines to show. Some fields share lines between sports, and we make the field more aesthetically pleasing, such as matching soccer’s 18-yard box with the 10-yard line for football.

What advice would you give to female engineers?
Women interested in engineering should not only work on their technical foundation, but also develop soft skills. Being a good written and verbal communicator is invaluable.

Can you walk into an athletic field without evaluating it?
It’s funny. Watching games on TV, I’ll sit with my husband and say, “Oh, that’s this kind of turf.’’

You just had a baby. A future engineer in the making?
Engineer or doctor. I’ll take either one.

By Cindy Atoji Keene
Globe Correspondent / March 20, 2011