Alyse Falconer’s father, a hardworking, blue-collar steel worker, went to school for engineering but didn’t finish for various reasons. When she showed interest in the profession, her father shook his head, telling her that he didn’t feel she could reach that goal. Today, at 32, not only is Falconer a professional engineer with a LEED AP Building Design + Construction certification, but she is also the associate principal at Point Energy Innovations in San Francisco. 

In retrospect, perhaps her dad’s false sense of confidence was the necessary push she needed to accomplish her goals. 

“Looking back, he was there for every phone call, every question, and every late-night tear session,” Falconer said. “I realized over the course of my education that he was my biggest cheerleader. He was my main motivation every day while I was at Penn State.”

Gretchen Coleman is one of the “founding mothers” of commissioning. After earning her degree in architectural engineering from Kansas State University in 1985, she became a founding member of the National Society of Architectural Engineers, which is now known as the Architectural Engineering Institute. In 1997, she was a founding member of the Building Commissioning Association (BCA), and in 2004, she helped create the Building Commissioning Certification Board (BCCB). 

“The field of commissioning is so rewarding because one gets to solve problems whether during design or in the field during construction,” said Coleman, 58. “It is rewarding to catch an issue during the design process and have a design engineer thank you for it.”

Bing Liu is one of American engineering’s most influential voices. As senior manager of the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA), she oversees a department that is responsible for the building energy codes, appliance standards, and above-code new construction programs for more than 140 Northwest utilities and energy efficiency organizations working on behalf of more than 13 million energy consumers.

Like many engineers, her affinity for the profession started when she was young. 

“I always enjoyed solving math problems when I was young, and I knew I would pursue engineering when I was in middle school,” said Liu, 49. “Most of the impactful and inspirational people in China had engineering educational backgrounds, including the president of China in the 1980s. My father was also an electrical engineer, and he served as a role model for me to follow.”



While I enjoy facilitating every issue of Engineered Systems magazine, the 20 to Watch: Women in HVAC issue is my favorite of the year. 

The women selected this year were chosen from a pool of more than 100 deserving applicants — each boasting unique strengths worthy of this list and many other honors. Choosing 20 was not an easy task and not something our staff took lightly. After hours of deliberation, we selected a variety of candidates representing those who have been in the industry for decades and others with just a few years of experience. 

Of those selected, 14 were between the ages of 20 and 39, and six are between 41 and 60. Fourteen hold P.E. certifications, three own their own businesses, two work for the U.S. government, and one represents an industry organization. 

I’m privileged and honored to showcase the stories of Falconer, Coleman, Liu, and the other 17 women on this list. I hope you enjoy reading these articles as much as I enjoyed writing them. 

If you happen to encounter one of these individuals on social media, please take a moment to thank them and let them know that their efforts are appreciated.  

See the full list of the 20 to Watch: Women in HVAC Contest winners at


February 1-5

ASHRAE Winter Conference

Orlando, Florida


February 3-5

AHR Expo

Orlando, Florida


February 9-13

Cooling Technology Institute Annual Conference



February 10-14

IDEA Campus Energy 2020



February 19-21

Indoor Air Quality Association Annual Meeting

West Palm Beach, Florida


March 15-18

International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration Natural Refrigeration Conference & Expo

Orlando, Florida


March 16-18

ACCA 2020 Conference & Expo

St. Louis


March 23-25

HVAC Excellence 2020 National HVACR Educators & Trainers Conference

Las Vegas