UCC Engineering Student Maps the Way Through a Water Contamination

UCC Engineering Student Maps the Way Through a Water Contamination

ROSEBURG, Oregon – For nearly five months, Umpqua Community College (UCC) Engineering student Vyla Grindberg has been an intern for the City of Myrtle Creek. Grindberg, who specializes in surveying and water quality, works as an engineering technician for the city.

“My primary duty is to help making maps using ArcGIS (geographic information system), drafting, maintenance of ArcGIS licensing; and other duties involving collecting location, storm and sanitary sewer data,” she said.

In the prior months, Grindberg has been working to make and update all of Myrtle Creek’s map systems.

“The general data in prior maps quantity-wise was pretty decent, but quality-wise the positioning of a lot of setups wasn’t quite correct,” she said. “A lot of the data was older, like when it came to position. For example, some storm sewer manholes for they may have been covered up by re-asphalting roads or other things like clean out valves that are below the surface. With the ability to have digital GPS devices, being able to get those at least within a three-foot accuracy is really helpful.”

But Grindberg’s work hasn’t been dedicated exclusively to cartographic pursuits. She most recently sprang to action to help with a diesel fuel spillage that led to a citywide water contamination advisory.

Vyla was on the UCC campus when she got word of Myrtle Creek’s water situation. Upon her arrival to the City of Myrtle Creek, she went straight work distributing bottled water to people in need. Grindberg’s map of the contaminated area was also used to proceed in the clean up.

“I had two jobs at the time,” she said. “I needed to help out the public works system [crew] and insure they got a map so that they could work through their hydrant setups, to ensure that they were flushing them properly, hitting all of them and doing them in proper order. I was helping them in between bouts of making sure people were getting their bottled water.”

It took the City of Myrtle Creek a few days to lift the drinking water advisory. But for Vyla, the experience will have a long-lasting impact. And even though she’s a student, she is already using many skills that will carry her into the workforce.

“Interning with the City of Myrtle Creek, they’ve been really flexible with my hours; making sure I can come (to UCC) and get my work done,” she said. “It’s integrated pretty well with my class. I’m currently in some GIS classes, I can see what I’m doing and how to setup a layout appropriately. When they have drafting pieces and they ask ‘Can you draft it up in AutoCAD?’ I’ve learned how to do that from UCC. There’s a lot of different things that I’ve learned from Engineering Technology that I’ve applied to my internship, which has been really cool.”

About Umpqua Community College

Nestled in the beautiful North Umpqua River Valley, Umpqua Community College is the regional center for higher education in Douglas County, Oregon. UCC provides high quality college degree programs, workforce development, and community learning opportunities.


Clay Baumgartner
Chair, Associate Professor, Engineering / Surveying / Forestry & CIS
Phone: 541-440-4783