BS 1982 Civil Engineering
Rebecca Lance Svatos, P.E., became an environmental engineer to try to leave the world better than she found it. While she was growing up in Iowa City in the 1960s, the environmental movement was raising awareness of environmental problems and she became interested in a career that would solve them. Through her father, a mechanical engineering professor at the University of Iowa, she was exposed to engineering. Because her father was the faculty advisor for the student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (there were no female engineering faculty then) she met impressive women engineering students that inspired her to pursue an engineering career. She received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Iowa in 1982.
After two years working for the Omaha District of the Corps of Engineers she obtained a master’s degree in environmental engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 1986. Following graduate school, Becky began a career in consulting engineering that lasted for 36 years. She retired in 2022 after moving back to Iowa City and spending the last 20 years of her career with Stanley Consultants. She assisted a wide range of clients throughout the United States with the investigation and cleanup of contaminated sites, water quality permitting, and pollution prevention. Much of her time was spent assisting private industry with environmental regulatory compliance as well as helping them prevent pollution through training, improved material handling processes, and better spill containment. Where pollution prevention failed, she investigated contamination and figured out how to clean it up. These contaminated sites ranged from small corner gas stations to sites with contamination covering hundreds of acres.
In addition to her technical accomplishments, Becky held a variety of management positions and helped hundreds of engineers and scientists achieve their full potential. She mentored many women engineers and enjoyed seeing the growth and acceptance of women in the engineering profession during her career. Her love of engineering has led her to speak to countless students of all ages from preschool through graduate school about careers in this rewarding field.
Becky also enjoys using her engineering skills to help others. For over ten years, she has been part of a group of Iowa engineers working with a grassroots organization of small communities in El Salvador to help them obtain clean, reliable drinking water.
Inducted: April 2023