Bechtel Fellows

Stewart "Stew" Taylor, Subsurface Flow and Transport


Stew has more than 25 years of experience in hydrology, hydrogeology, contaminant fate and transport, groundwater modeling, and soil and groundwater remediation. He is world-renowned for his expertise in the biodegradation of organic contaminants in the subsurface environment, and he led the initiative to create a groundwater division within the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Get to Know Stew

What is the most exciting or challenging project you were involved in, and what was your role?

The most challenging project that I’ve supported was a radioactive waste disposal project for which I served as a technical specialist. Not only was the project technically challenging, it was controversial and political. Working with the regulator was difficult, and making presentations at public hearings in front of a hostile public was challenging. The project eventually ended up in litigation for which I served as an expert witness. The depositions and courtroom cross examinations were very challenging. As a result, however, I grew as a professional and gained confidence in my abilities.

What is the best career advice that you’ve received?

The best career advice that I received was to take an assignment in a different Global Business Unit. Even though this was a sub-lateral move, I broadened my experience and expanded my network, which actually accelerated my career and led to my selection as a Bechtel Fellow. Working in different business lines gives you a broader perspective of the company and provides exposure to a larger network of people.

What do you see as the key skills that new engineers need to have in the global job market?

An engineer in the global job market needs to be able and willing to work in different cultural environments and have the flexibility to relocate to where the work is performed. Being multi-lingual is also a plus, including the ability to speak English if you are located in a non-English-speaking country, or the ability to speak the native language in the country where you are working.

What leadership skills do you think are needed to be a great engineer?

Communication skills, both oral and written, are essential. By definition, all engineers have good technical skills. Good communication skills separate the good engineers from the great engineers. A great engineer can communicate complex technical issues in a way that’s understandable by a non-technical audience. Having good communication skills will distinguish you from your peers and provide leadership opportunities.