Member Spotlight -- Austin Frazier
March 1, 2018

Job and Employer: Water Services Consultant at 120WaterAudit

Educational background: 
Bachelor of Science in Biology, Indiana University

Age: 24

Tell us about your involvement with the Young Professionals. 
I have been part of the AWWA YP program for more than a year. The first event I attended was a “Meet the Boss” session at the Water Quality Technology Conference in Indianapolis in 2016. I quickly saw the value of networking with my peers in other areas of the industry, and it wasn’t long before I dove into the opportunities available through the YP program. I attended more networking sessions and participated in some fun events at ACE17 in Philadelphia, including a scavenger hunt that saw me playing with chainsaws (See photo below)! I just attended the recent YP conference in San Antonio and will continue to take advantage of YP opportunities. 

What advice would you give to other YPs? If I had to boil down what I have learned in my first few years in the water industry as a young professional, it would be to TRY EVERYTHING, and just put yourself out there. I can honestly say that the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences have been those that arose from the unexpected. It may seem like the world of water is a big place that is full of people, but it gets a lot smaller when you actively engage with the community. 

Daily duties: As part of working for a start-up company, my role and associated duties can change on a daily basis. Most of my time is spent on business development and fulfillment, but I also love working with our science department when I have time.

What is the most exciting project you’ve worked on? The Lead in Schools Program in Indiana. Along with our partners at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, we are providing comprehensive lead testing and remediation services to more than 850 schools across Indiana. Because children represent some of the highest risk populations for lead poisoning, the impacts of this project are very evident. 

What is something unexpected you learned on the job?
I was first inclined to try and think of something profound about my experience to date, but I think this fun fact is more interesting to share: Did you know Washington DC has water pipes in use today that date back to the Civil War? Maybe even crazier, some distribution systems still have pipes that are made of wood!

Why did you decide to go into the water field?
When I first got out of college, I landed rather haphazardly in the water industry. To say that I made a conscious decision to enter the field may be misleading. However, after working for a few months in the industry, I knew I would be here for quite a while. There are many problems that affect the average human’s experience with water on a daily basis, ranging from water quality to basic access. Many of these problems are far-reaching, affecting people on a national, or even worldwide scale. I’m excited to work with others in this field to come up with radical new solutions to these problems. Let’s get started!

What is your biggest accomplishment? I am most proud of how I have been able to dive into my job in the first few years out of college. By utilizing all the resources and education that is out there, I have been able to find success in the industry in a short time, and I look forward to continuing! 

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
I think one of the biggest barriers standing in the way of progress in the water industry is its general resistance to change, from its aversion to investing in new technologies to the inability to attract young talent to the industry. Working together with stakeholders in the industry to find solutions to these problems will continue to be a major area of focus. 

Toughest thing about your job?
Being in a startup company, there are many issues that demand your attention, and I frequently find myself stretched too thin to adequately deal with them. Learning how to prioritize between certain tasks that are competing for time and energy has proven to be a worthwhile skill to hone.

How long have you been an AWWA member and what have you gotten from your membership? 
I have been an AWWA member for about a year. As I mentioned, I did not have any background with the water field when I first joined 120WaterAudit. As a result, the education and knowledge of the field that AWWA has provided me is invaluable. From technical sessions to webinars to conferences, I am constantly utilizing the association’s resources to learn. To augment this, AWWA also provides incredible networking opportunities. The collaborative efforts and partnerships that exist and flourish in the AWWA environment are another great benefit to being a member

What’s your motto in life? Have fun and try everything

Hobbies and outside interests:
  In my free time, I am an avid birdwatcher. You can often find a pair of binoculars in my brief case at any given moment, even tucked under the booth at AWWA conferences!

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? When I was growing up, I was a huge animal lover. I would go back and forth between wanting to be a marine biologist or zoologist as my desired career path. While I don’t work with animals in my daily job, I love hanging out with my two Westies, Zoey and Ziggy. 

What is something that people would be surprised to know about you?
I am a huge music lover, and enjoy playing the piano, guitar, and harmonica when I have the time. As part of this passion, I also enjoy collecting vintage records, and have just over a thousand in my collection to date. They run the gamut of genres, from the Beatles to Kendrick Lamar.