I’ve wanted to be an engineer since I can remember. Early on, I learned that engineering can be challenging, fun, and incredibly fulfilling. My Uncle Keith is a Mechanical Engineer who specializes in forensic engineering and accident reconstruction. I watched my Uncle diligently prepare countless court case files. I saw some of the cars in the shop behind his office – barely recognizable as cars anymore – and listened as he told me that his job was to use metallurgy, physics, and math to prove what caused the accident and to help victims’ families receive assistance and ever-so-important closure. I thought to myself, “Well, that’s a job I could do every day and be proud of my service!” Thanks in large part to my Uncle’s mentorship and willingness to satisfy my youthful curiosity, a future engineer was born in that unassuming business park office.
Growing up, I was an observer and a thinker. I’ve always been introspective. I’ve always had a curiosity about the world, how it works, and what kinds of challenges or problems exist. I naturally gravitate towards simplicity as a means of fostering curiosity and finding fulfillment. I feel focused, motivated, calmed, fulfilled, and happy when I make sure to frequently ‘check in’ with myself, analyze the choices I’m making, and then respond to that inner analysis by editing out any unnecessary actions, thoughts, pursuits, and things. In recent years, I’ve discovered that there’s actually a name for this type of lifestyle and that quite a few people live this way (aka: I’m possibly not actually a major weirdo, yay!). It’s called minimalism. I’ve seen many definitions, but I love this one (slightly edited for my personal tastes) from Joshua Fields Millburn:
“Minimalism isn’t about restrictions. Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom. Freedom to pursue what is important and ignore what is not.”
At this point, you might be thinking, “Okay, but isn’t this a water blog? How does this relate?” Let me bring it full circle. Engineering and minimalism are two of the major pillars of my existence. Engineering is my passion. It is the vehicle I use to channel my gifts in a meaningful way and contribute to the world. Minimalism is also a vehicle I’ve chosen to use to help me pursue my true passions and to make sure I’m being intentional with my limited time on this amazing planet. It’s been a fascinating journey discovering how these two lighthouses of mine both guide me and work together to help me grow. The more I pursue minimalism, the more I am refreshed to pursue my engineering passion. The more I pursue my engineering passion, the more I look to minimalism to guide my actions and provide freedom from burdens. The freer I feel, the better an engineer I become. And so on. Engineering and minimalism act together to amplify my output and to amplify my inner happiness and contentment. You’ve got to love a good positive feedback loop, right?
If you read more about minimalism and those who pursue this simplified way of living, you will quickly understand that service and generosity are some of the immediate effects of adopting a minimal lifestyle. Every minimalist has some passion(s) that he or she lives out and, in every single instance, those passions involve making the world better, making the lives of others better, or both. I am a Civil Engineer specializing in water resources and environmental engineering. Over the course of the last decade and a half, as I’ve absorbed loads of knowledge in school and on the job, I’ve realized that our world is in desperate need of people who are willing to dedicate their careers, minds, hearts, energy, and time to the pursuit of clean water and sanitation. I’ve decided that playing a role in providing clean water is how I want to serve and practice generosity.
I am so thankful to have discovered this branch of engineering. I am happy that I can use minimalism as a tool to keep my priorities in better order and remind myself of what I truly find to be important. I am hopeful that my future will include much more exploration into these worlds. And I am rooting for you, reader, as you pursue your passions and find cool ways to live out service and generosity in your life! Go forth and make good things happen!
Kysa Cronrath, PE
Kysa Cronrath is a licensed Professional Civil Engineer who has worked at MWH and at the City of Hillsboro Water Department. She is involved in several leadership positions within AWWA and Water For People, and is passionate about water, running, good food, good books, and good relationships.