20 to Watch: Women in HVAC - Jennifer Luce
P.E., LEED AP, principal, RTM Consulting Engineers
Name: Jennifer Luce
Title: P.E., LEED AP, principal, RTM Consulting Engineers
Educational Experience: Bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering, 1995.
Professional Credentials/Accreditations: P.E. (Missouri, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Washington) and USGBC LEED AP.
Organizational Affiliations/Achievements/Awards: ASHRAE member, founding executive board member of the ACE Mentor Program of the Ozarks’ Springfield affiliate, Springfield Business Journal 40 under 40, member of the “The List” by 417 Magazine in 2011, and state of Missouri SAVE Coalition member.
What caused you to/when did you fall in love with engineering?
I fell in love with engineering when I realized that ideas in my mind could be put down on paper and become a reality that you can touch and experience. Pretty cool!
What has been the most rewarding aspect of working in the skilled trades?
It’s extremely rewarding when you enter a new facility and experience the excitement and appreciation from the owner and occupants of a new space. There is a moment of pride and joy knowing that you did what you could to ensure the new building checked all the boxes for both the occupants and the community.
Describe the proudest moment in your career.
I’d say it was one of my first full projects out of school. I was put on a project to do the general MEP building design for a new craft brewery in town. During early design, the owner decided to release the brewery system engineers from the job and use our firm to provide the design services. For an engineering grad less than one year out of school, to design not only the full restaurant and kitchen but also the full brewery with boiler, ice chillers, and heat exchangers was an awesome opportunity. Once complete, everything worked properly, and the brewery is still in operation today. It warms my heart when I think of what I accomplished with that design so early in my career.
What challenges do women face in this profession? Can you give a personal example?
I think the biggest challenge is the initial decision to get into the industry and ignore the stigma that engineers are men. I’ve had great experiences from college through today and have a fair number of colleagues in the industry that are women. In fact, 23% of our local engineers at RTM are women. I think encouraging high school kids to pursue the engineering and the construction field, in general, is the key, which is part of the reason I contribute to the local chapter of the ACE Mentor Program of America.
What does your day-to-day job entail?
I’d say most of my day is spent teaching and guiding design engineers how to build MEP systems as well as the requirements of construction documents that go along with it. A fair amount of time is also directed to marketing/business development, handling project challenges/opportunities, and the general duties of running our local office.
What drives/motivates you every day?
My biggest drive is being there for my office engineering team. Whether that is bringing in projects to keep everyone employed; teaching them to become ethical, professional, diligent, and competent engineers; or having a special lunch or treat to celebrate birthdays. I work with great people, and they are a big piece of why I consider myself grateful and motivated to do it every day.
What remains on your engineering bucket list — what do you aspire to do that you haven’t accomplished yet?
I would say either a skyscraper or an all new mid to large hospital. Locally, there are not many tall buildings or ground-up hospital facilities.
What’s one thing no one knows about you?
Probably not much, but few know that I’ve gone on cross-country motorcycle trips with only ladies. Our V-Twin Vixen group has gone north to Lake Superior, west to Utah, east to North Carolina, and south to Louisiana.
List any mentors who’ve helped you succeed and describe exactly how they’ve shaped your success.
Mark Malone, the founder of our local office, who offered me my first engineering job, is a mentor. I’m still working at that company today! He taught me to think, learn, and grow to be successful.
Chuck Burton at K-State made college as much fun, real, and enjoyable as an engineering college education can be.
My dad, who gave me the opportunities (enrolling me in the college of engineering without my knowledge) and experience (a summer job in the engineering department of his company) to understand what engineering can provide me is absolutely a mentor. Without all these guys, I likely wouldn’t be in engineering today.
What advice do you have for prospective female engineers considering entering the field?
Just do it! It is a rewarding profession where you continue to grow and learn with great people. Oh, and remember it is better to wear pants with sturdy shoes when going to job site, although wearing a skirt doesn’t have to stop you from climbing a ladder to evaluate equipment on a roof.