Steve Ardrey has been an Electronic Instrumentation Technician for thirty-one years at the SFPUC’s Wastewater Enterprise. Over these years he has developed a mantra of sorts, such as “Before you can control the process, you must measure the process.”
This is a concept that he has taught various tour groups, John O’Connell High School interns, and work study students from Los Medanos College.
“One of my most memorable experiences of people touring the Southeast Treatment Plant is their amazement at the complexity of the control and treatment of the wastewater process.”
Ardrey received his training at a trade school and started working in the petrochemical industry before making his way into the wastewater industry. As he retires, he looks back on his career with pride and satisfaction to have had a career in an industry that is making a positive impact on the environment.
Ardrey’s interest in inspiring youth does not stop at work – he operates a nonprofit community bicycle shop called Bike Concord on the campus of Olympic High School in Concord, California. In Ardrey’s world of bicycles, he is called “Smitty.” One of the high school programs that Ardrey and a teacher started is called BikeEnomics. The curriculum is a combination of economics and bicycle repair. As Ardrey says, he isn’t necessarily trying to train someone to be a bicycle mechanic, but is trying to show students that the trades can be an option as a career. Another program that Ardrey operates is called “The Bike Tent”. This is a pop-up bike shop that Ardrey, along with some of the high school students and volunteers, set up at the Thursday evening concert and farmer’s market in Concord’s Todos Santos Plaza. Another aspiration for Ardrey and his friends at Bike Concord is advocating for better bicycle infrastructure in the community; this starts with teaching elementary school students “Freedom from Training Wheels.”
“Riding a bicycle is a mental escape and physical getaway. Getting your heart rate up, breaking a little sweat, and the release of endorphins can clear your mind of life’s stresses.”
Especially during COVID-19 and uncertain times when people are experiencing increased anxiety and stress, Ardrey encourages everyone to escape on a bicycle.