D&B Engineers and Architects is comprised of outstanding professionals who are unequivocally experienced, consummately skilled and extraordinarily talented at their craft. And Maria Dioguardi Wright, P.E., Senior Engineer at D&B is one of the best. D&B is proud to have her on our team as she truly upholds D&B’s corporate motto “Facing Challenges. Providing Solutions.”
In a career spanning over 30 years, Ms. Wright has focused her considerable expertise on environmental and remedial issues with a focus on investigating and remediating hazardous waste sites on Long Island and throughout New York State to reduce and eliminate impacts to human health and the environment from these contaminated sites. Protection of Long Island’s aquifers, the sole source of drinking water in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, is vitally important to the health of its inhabitants. It has been Ms. Wright’s lifelong mission to focus on their protection and preservation and to devise sound environmental solutions that will benefit Long Islanders now and in the future.
Among her leadership roles at D&B, Ms. Wright has served as the Quality Control Officer for the firm’s term contracts with the New York City School Construction Authority (NYCSCA) for the last eight years. In that capacity, she oversees all work related to NYCSCA contracts, including responsibility for all due diligence projects involving Phase I Environmental Site Assessments/Inspections, Phase II Environmental Site Assessments, Indoor Air Quality Surveys, Outdoor Air Assessments, Potable Water Sampling and Water Disinfection projects.
In addition, for the last 10 years, she has been Contract Manager for the firm’s New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) Standby Contract for Engineering Services, coordinating all aspects of this term contract which focuses on the investigation and remediation of hazardous waste sites.
Serving in these two prestigious positions represents the culmination of her work as both a Project Engineer and Project Manager for dozens of high-profile projects, including numerous site assessments, remedial investigations, feasibility studies and remedial designs. A lifetime of commitment, purpose and passion has been the hallmark of her work and has firmly established Ms. Wright as a leader in the engineering field on Long Island.
Engineering is in Ms. Wright’s blood. Her family has deep roots on the North Shore of Long Island and she is a third-generation engineer, following her father and grandfather into the profession. Her grandfather was a land surveyor in the field of civil engineering, and her father was also a civil engineer. Both were well known and respected on Long Island. Ms. Wright proudly carries on that tradition; her son has recently graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University, further extending the noteworthy family legacy.
Watching her father work during the day to earn his engineering degree at night inspired Ms. Wright to pursue her own career in engineering. “My father went to night school while working to support his family. His determination and sacrifice had a huge impact on me,” Ms. Wright said. “My dad was my mentor. Both he and my mother, who was a teacher, encouraged me to believe that I could do anything I set my mind to, even in a male-dominated profession such as engineering.”
Ms. Wright received her undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 1989. At the time, the ratio of male to female engineering students was 75% male, 25% female. She then pursued her master’s degree, this time in Environmental Engineering at Manhattan College (Riverdale, NY) in 1993. “I would have focused on environmental engineering earlier, but amazingly, it was not offered at any college during my undergraduate years,” said Ms. Wright.
Upon graduation, she received job offers from large chemical companies recruiting on-campus, including DuPont, Hess, Amoco and Mobil. But Ms. Wright knew that a job creating new chemicals was not to be her life’s work. From an early age, she knew she wanted to do meaningful work that would have a powerful environmental impact.
Ms. Wright’s long list of high-profile accomplishments demonstrates her impressive record of successful water and environmental project management on Long Island and across NY State.
They include (but are not limited to):
- Project Manager for the Cuba Landfill New York State Superfund Site, which included the preparation of technical specifications and plans for the closure of the landfill. Ms. Wright was responsible for managing the project budget and schedule as well as coordinating with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. She was responsible for the design of the entire remediation, which included waste consolidation, capping with a geomembrane and phytoremediation of shallow groundwater contamination and leachate seeps.
- Project Manager for the Jimmy’s Dry Cleaner New York State Superfund Site located in Roosevelt, New York, which included the development of a pre-design investigation, pilot study and preparation of technical specifications of in-situ chemical oxidation for groundwater remediation; excavation and off-site disposal of contaminated soil and enhancement of an existing soil vapor extraction system. The focus of the remedial efforts was to clean up the site to mitigate impacts to future use of the site and surrounding residential and commercial properties.
- Project Manager for the Farrand Controls New York State Superfund Site which included the development of a predesign investigation and an in-situ pilot study using zero-valent iron injections for the remediation of groundwater contaminated with chlorinated solvents without impacting ongoing operations at an active commercial facility.
- Project Manager for the 123 Post Avenue site located in Westbury, New York which included the performance of pre-design investigation studies including groundwater monitoring, well installation and groundwater sampling and the performance of an in situ chemical oxidation pilot study to evaluate the effectiveness of chemical oxidation on remediating elevated levels of tetrachloroethene in deep groundwater at the site. The focus of the remedial efforts is to mitigate migration of and reduce contamination in the groundwater.
- Project Engineer technical support for the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York to advance the “New York Rising” Program with coordination and final review of Tier 2 Environmental Reviews that are required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) for properties impacted by Superstorm Sandy all over Long Island. Services included coordination with United States Fish and Wildlife Services, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and New York State Historic Preservation Office.
- Project Engineer for preparation of a Remedial Action Work Plan (RAWP) for a former Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) site located on West 42nd Street in Manhattan. The RAWP was prepared in accordance with the NYSDEC’s Voluntary Cleanup Program technical guidance. Three remedial options were evaluated to determine the most efficient alternative, combining mitigation of potential exposure pathways with future development plans. Her responsibilities also included development of the draft Operations, Monitoring and Maintenance Plan for the site, including a soil management plan and groundwater monitoring plan.
- Project Engineer for the preparation of the Remedial Alternatives Report (RAR) for the Cold Spring MGP site in Cold Spring NY. The project involved the evaluation of several remedial alternatives including innovative substitutes for the remediation of the MGP contamination to allow for future use of the property by the community.
- Project Manager for the 125-acre Buffalo Outer Harbor New York State Superfund site which included development of the work plan, remedial investigation and feasibility report, and management of the field investigation comprising the installation of monitoring wells, surface and subsurface soil sampling, groundwater sampling, test pit excavation, and surface water and sediment sampling all with a focus on redevelopment of the property for future use by the community allowing access to Lake Erie.
- Project Manager for the Garden City Park Industrial Area Preliminary Site Assessment which focused on documenting the source of a large dense nonaqueous phase liquid (DNAPL) plume affecting 17 public water supply wells. The project involved installation of Geoprobe points, and collection of soil and groundwater samples.
- Project Manager for the Fulton Avenue focused remedial investigation which involved a more in-depth investigation of source of the contamination documented during the Preliminary Site Assessment for the Garden City Park Industrial Area. The project involved installation of deep and shallow groundwater monitoring wells, collection of soil and groundwater samples, and development of an interim remedial measure (IRM) to control and treat the contaminant plume and contaminated subsurface soil.
As part of her desire to support and mentor minority and women-owned businesses, Ms. Wright is D&B’s program leader for the Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE) initiative. In addition, she has actively worked with the NYSDEC Office of Minority and Women’s Business Program with regard to achievement of goals, overall quarterly utilization reporting, and preparation of individual work assignment plans. Ms. Wright also assists with the development of utilization plans and quarterly reporting for other publicly funded projects, including projects under the Environmental Restoration Program.
Professionally, Ms. Wright has been an active member of American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) for the last 15 years. Among Ms. Wright’s many community activities are her involvement as a Religious Education Teacher at St. Dominic’s in Oyster Bay from 2004 through 2011. She also served as a FIRST LEGO League Robotics coach and, mentoring rising Juniors at a Career Fair at Locust Valley High School as well as served as a judge at the Long Island Science and Engineering Fair. Ms. Wright believes that many students, especially young women, do not pursue engineering simply because they do not understand what the career entails and are not properly introduced to the practical and rewarding aspects of engineering – or its tangible impact on society and modern-day life.
On a personal note, Ms. Wright stresses that her success has been achieved by prioritizing both work and family, emphasizing that it’s important to recognize that the meaning of “success” is different for everyone. “My success would not have been possible without the support of my family as well that of D&B Engineers and Architects. Enabling talented, dedicated employees to perform their jobs through flexible scheduling advises clients that they are in good hands while also communicating to your children that they are loved and incredibly important in your life. That is my definition of a win-win.”
Her advice for women looking to pursue a career in engineering? “Women are inherently problem solvers and multi-taskers. Both traits represent skills that make women successful in both business and engineering,” said Ms. Wright. “There is a misconception that engineering is boring or dry. It’s just the opposite. Building a road, designing a computer, or preserving the environment – engineers have a huge impact on the community in a very real and beneficial way. And the industry is constantly evolving through technology and innovation, so engineers enjoy lifelong learning opportunities.”