Feature Stories 2024: Seth Shea '24: Lobsterman turned environmental engineer

Seth Shea standing in front of the ocean
Feature Stories 2024: Seth Shea '24: Lobsterman turned environmental engineer
Seth Shea '24: Lobsterman turned environmental engineer

Civil and environmental engineering student says experience as a lobsterman inspired his interest in environmental resources.

Seth Shea '24 has been lobster fishing since he was in high school, hauling in roughly 300 traps. In 2019, he started a lobster roll food truck in Plymouth and managed every aspect of the business, "from trap to trailer." The food truck didn't survive the COVID-19 pandemic, but Shea still pulls about 50 lobster traps a year.  

His experience as a lobsterman led to his interest in environmental engineering and environmental resource conservation. "I could see the changes that were happening in fishing patterns, and to the coastline as a result of climate change," said Shea. "Warming waters in Long Island Sound practically destroyed Connecticut's lobster industry. Changes in water temperature, wind patterns, and hypoxic conditions in Cape Cod Bay all affect lobster abundance.  

"Witnessing these changes made me interested in how we can manage and mitigate the effects of climate change and build sustainable solutions that work with the natural environment instead of against it."  

Shea's food truck the Lobster Spot

Why did you choose UMass Dartmouth? 

"I transferred here from the University of New Hampshire. I started as an ocean engineering major at UNH, but my interests shifted toward civil engineering. I found this program at UMassD with the environmental resources engineering concentration, and it was exactly what I wanted to study.  

"Since coming here, I've had lots of opportunities to get hands-on experience in the field and to conduct research. Professors like Jonathan Mellor and Ryan Beemer do lots of outreach with students and get us involved in real-world projects."  

What has been the best part of your UMassD experience? 

"The best part is the culture here. It's easy to reach out to people here for help. Professors and students are all very open and inviting. They're great people to work with."  

Is there anyone at UMassD – professor or otherwise – who has made a difference in your life? 

"Dr. Ryan Beemer. He reached out to me and offered me the chance to work with him on his research. We conducted tests on glauconite soils and anchor designs used for the foundations of offshore wind turbines as part of the clean energy initiative in Massachusetts.  

"Dr. Beemer pushes his students to do better and encourages us to pursue extracurricular activities that enhance what we learn in the classroom." 

In the field 

"I attended a career fair on campus that helped me find an internship at Outback Engineering in Middleboro, MA. I worked with a team of surveyors and civil engineers, going to different properties to take measurements and collect data to create plans for client projects.  

"For my senior capstone project, my team is working on a project for the town of Barnstable, MA. The town is struggling with nutrient loading into local ponds that can result in harmful algae blooms and other water quality problems, which can be harmful to both people and other wildlife. We're working on a plan to limit loads from stormwater and septic systems, upgrade stormwater control measures, and replace existing septic systems with town sewer connections. Our project will have real implications for the community in Barnstable, so it's exciting to see our work implemented."  

What are you most proud of? 

"I'm proud to be the president of UMass Dartmouth's chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). It's given me a lot of opportunities to connect with a variety of companies in the field and with students. 

"As a commuter, it can be hard to meet people, and this is a great way to make friends with similar interests. ASCE also provides opportunities to implement what we see in the classroom with projects like the concrete canoe competition. There's also a social aspect to the group outside of engineering. Sometimes we'll host game nights and other events where people can come together."  

Any advice for future students? 

"I was always told: 'fail early and often in order to succeed sooner.' Failing and getting back up to try again is the quickest way to learn from mistakes and find success."  

UMassD Favorites: 

Class: Sustainable Infrastructure; This class explored how to find the best ways to implement strategies and solutions in response to changing conditions with minimal impact on the environment. 

Professor: Dr. Ryan Beemer 

Place to eat: On campus, Starbucks; off campus, Mirasol's 

Place to study: 5th floor library, overlooking campus; a great place to watch sunsets (and sometimes sunrises) 

Event: Job fairs; they provide great opportunities to talk to people in your field. 

Extracurricular: ASCE