20 to Watch: Women in HVAC - Amanda Doenges
P.E., CEM, LEED AP BD+C, LEED AP O+M, client strategies leader, Heapy
Name: Amanda Doenges
Title: P.E., CEM, LEED AP BD+C, LEED AP O+M, client strategies leader, Heapy
Educational Experience: Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in renewable and clean energy, both from the University of Dayton. Doenges is currently studying to obtain an MBA from Butler University.
What caused you to/when did you fall in love with engineering?
I have always loved math and science. In high school, I took an AP physics class, where we would analyze things like why, at certain speeds, a car’s wheels appear to be spinning backwards and then do the math to calculate those speeds. My teacher, Barry Riehle, mentioned if you enjoyed his class, you should consider pursuing engineering. It was all the real-world experiments and analysis done in that class that made me fall in love with engineering. I love solving problems and analyzing how things work.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of working in the skilled trades?
Designing projects is only half of the battle. Oftentimes, determining how to construct a project that has been designed can be equally as challenging. Having the pleasure of working with many of these individuals in the skilled trades that have the ability to construct, operate, and maintain these projects has been amazing. What I have learned from them has helped make me a better engineer.
Describe the proudest moment in your career.
Prior to working at Heapy, I was the director of engineering at Butler University. There, I had the pleasure of working with Heapy on the chilled water central plant project from concept, budgeting, design, construction, and through operation. Recently, this project won the Engineering Award at the Monumental Awards, the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards event. Seeing the project team, which I was proud to be part of, win this award was a very rewarding experience.
What challenges do women face in this profession? Can you give a personal example?
The biggest challenge I see is not having many senior female leaders as role models. I haven’t felt like this mattered much to me in the past because I knew how to work hard and had a passion for continuous improvement. I didn’t feel like I needed to see a female in a certain role for me to be able to achieve success; however, I’ve recently realized the subliminal impact it can have when women, including myself, imagine their futures. Even with two young kids now, my son often talks about what he wants to do when he grows up, and he mentions my husband’s and his grandfather’s line of work. I’ve realized that not seeing many women in leadership roles has made it more difficult for me to picture myself in those highest-level leadership roles.
I’ve been fortunate that Heapy has many great female engineers, three of which I’ve worked with to start a Women in Engineering Society. This group meets during lunch and identifies ways we can continue to make our company an even better place to work than it is already. We listen to podcasts, read articles, and discuss what this information means to us and what we can do about it. If you’re looking for a great podcast, check out HBR’s Women at Work.
To get more women involved in engineering, we need to work together. It’s not just about promoting and educating women in the workforce, but the men as well. If we grow together and help each other, I think we will see more women not only entering engineering but staying in it.
What does your day-to-day job entail?
I spend most of my day interacting with our clients to understand their needs and ensuring our team is delivering those needs at the top of the line. I’m also involved with the strategic discussions of projects as well as helping clients come up with creative solutions.
What drives/motivates you every day?
I enjoy helping other people and making a positive impact in our environment and the community.
What remains on your engineering bucket list — what do you aspire to do that you haven’t accomplished yet?
I’m hoping to complete my MBA and become a company owner.
What’s one thing no one knows about you?
There is a wine bar named after me. My husband and three of his friends decided to open a comfortable spot where friends can gather and experience a new way to learn about wine. They named this wine bar after each of the first initial of the first name of each of their wives – EMMA..
List any mentors who’ve helped you succeed and describe exactly how they’ve shaped your success.
I have had many mentors, from bosses to coworkers and even my husband. Each has contributed to my success at various points in my career. I feel as though many women tend to doubt their abilities more than their male counterparts – myself included. At times, when I began to feel self-doubt, these mentors were always there to help me through.
What advice do you have for prospective female engineers considering entering the field?
If you have ever heard someone say you can’t do something, and it is something you are excited about doing, prove them wrong — even if that doubter is yourself.