Larissa Walker

Larissa Walker, Geological Engineering - Class of 2005

Larissa Walker

Why did you choose your undergraduate program?

I was always fascinated with Earth history and learning how things are made and change over huge timeframes to become something else. When faced with the choice of what I wanted to do as a career the field of engineering seemed like a perfect fit and geological engineering had just enough rocks involved to grab my attention and it turns out hold it for quiet some time! There was little competition for where I'd go to school as Waterloo sat top of my list with the broadest range of programs and mandatory co-op component. I knew I wanted to get out in the real world and test what I was learning as soon as possible.

How did you like your experience at UWaterloo?

I loved Waterloo since the moment I stepped foot on the campus I knew I was in the right place. The friendships I made at UW are still strong today. The community of UW is small but large and I loved that it was never cut-throat but inclusive and supportive first and foremost. The lessons I learned at UW stayed with me: if you're enjoying something it's easier to balance and prioritize to fit everything into a day.

What were your favourite classes?

I will never forget first year Physics and always using the easiest method to get the job done. And 4th year law and ethics...which really had I taken in first year would likely have led me to switching to a law degree and changing my whole career. Rock labs were my best memories, I still laugh about everyone licking the salt we were told not to lick.

How did the friends you made at UWaterloo inspire you throughout your undergraduate experience?

Being at UW you are surrounded with incredibly smart people, because we're all the best of the best from our respective high schools. I hold dear my friendships to this day, but the best inspiration and lesson I learned from my cohort was that everyone has a talent to share and helping to teach someone that is struggling will always pay dividends when you need help (and we all will find that day).

Co-op work term history

  • Geosyntec - working in Guelph on various environmental consulting projects
  • Geosyntec - working on bioremediation at the UofT lab in Toronto with Dr. Elizabeth Banks
  • Geosyntec - building landfills in USA for one hot summer in Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Shell Canada - building an evaluation model for Carbonate pinnacles in Triassic plays of Alberta
  • Shell Canada - Exploration in frontier shaley sands of the Beaufort Sea
  • Shell Canada - reservoir management planning for Central Alberta Foothills gas fields

What is the biggest lesson you learned from co-op?

Learning how to sell yourself in an interview is far more important that anything you can write on a resume. Be willing to learn from everyone and apply what you know to any situation.

What is your occupation now?

Today I am the Front End Development Manager for Shell Australia's backfill project to Queensland-Curtis LNG. We are assessing the potential for tight gas sand from the Bowen Basin to develop for export via the existing LNG facilities on the East Coast of Australia currently integrated with the Surat Coal Seam Gas development producing just under 2 billion cubic feet of gas per day, as well as supplying the domestic market.

Did your undergraduate program play a role in where you are today? How?

Yes my undergraduate program enabled my career today. I had the opportunity to work for Shell Canada as a co-op student and complete my Geological Engineering degree with a focus on Petroleum Engineering. I starting in Shell Canada as a Petrophysical Engineer right after undergrad in 2005. I've held many positions in Shell in Canada, the US and now here in Australia at first deepening my technical knowledge of Petroleum Engineering and then broadening to Project Management. My Undergraduate degree gave me a solid foundation to build on and a work ethic to continue to learn and grow.

List 3 lessons you'd like to share with the current undergraduate students.

  1. Never be afraid to ask questions, the only stupid question is the one you don't ask!
  2. You will be learning for the rest of your life, don't beat yourself up for minor set backs today. If it's not going to matter in 6 months move on as quickly as possible.
  3. Enjoy what you're doing, while you're doing it! 5 years isn't that long and you will never again be able to function with so little sleep. So do all the things and find what makes you the happiest. The future will always be there, but today only happens once.