Title: EI, Mechanical Engineer, Emerald Engineering
Educational Experience: Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, University of Florida
Professional Credentials/Accreditations: Florida Board of Professional Engineers Engineer
Organizational Affiliations/Achievements/Awards: Co-chair, Women in ASHRAE, Florida West Coast (FWC); Emerging Leader in Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce; Young Professional, Associated Builders and Contractors; committee member, American Institute of Architects (AIA); committee member, AIA Academy of Architecture for Health (AAH); and Emerging Leader in Construction, Dale Carnegie Institute
What caused you to/when did you fall in love with engineering?
I fell in love with engineering when I got involved with health care design. I was taking part in renovating a chemotherapy infusion center when I realized how much this particular project had to do with the patients themselves. I found that, in this profession, I have the ability to help others find comfort in very uncomfortable settings and that, in itself, makes it all worthwhile.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of working in the skilled trades?
Working in skilled trades has shown me the importance and value of teamwork. The many moving parts in health care design require a tight-knit group of professionals, from doctors to designers, where we use both professional insight and field experience to create a unique plan for each project. The most rewarding part is being immersed in an industry where we can translate our ideas and visions into a positive change felt by all of our end users.
Describe the proudest moment in your career.
This recognition certainly tops the list so far. In an industry that is historically overwhelmingly male, there can be a tendency for the talents of women to be overlooked at times. So, the fact that my skills and contributions are being recognized at this early point in my career is a surreal feeling. I am incredibly grateful!
What challenges do women face in this profession? Can you give a personal example?Why aren’t there more women in engineering? How can we increase the number of women in engineering?
As a young engineer in this profession, the simple act of being taken seriously can be one of the biggest struggles. Women, however, face additional obstacles because their presence is unfamiliar to some in an industry that is overwhelmingly male. I personally learned that just because I have a college degree in engineering from a top-10 university doesn’t exactly mean that people will automatically take what I say seriously. You have to kindly demand respect, speak your mind, and show your strengths. I believe that there aren't more women in engineering because of the way society has learned to perceive engineering and construction. Historically, engineering has been acknowledged as a job that is for a male, with little room for women. Many companies and institutions are recognizing the value of women in this field and it continues to be a positive impact for women. We, as a society, should continue to show the world that more and more women are involved in this industry, and that we can be successful. We aren’t afraid to get out there, get into this industry, and show others what we can do. Women are intelligent, strong, and kind-hearted beings. With those qualities, we can succeed in any profession.
What does your day-to-day job entail?
It varies every day. One day I will be in the office coordinating with architects, owners, and other engineers and designing construction documents, while, another day, I will be out in the field, advising and coordinating with contractors. The variety of work that is done and the people I am working with make every day diverse and refreshing.
What drives/motivates you every day?
The fact that my job entails being a part of something much bigger than myself is what drives me. In HVAC design, you can’t only think about the building and what you’re putting into it; you have to think about the people within the building, patients, doctors, nurses, etc. And my job is to help these people to feel the most comfortable in the environment they’re in.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted you personally and professionally?
Personally, I’ve gone through the struggles millions of other people have gone through. This has been one of the toughest years I’ve ever had. Not being able to see family and friends during important events of their lives. Missing out on birthdays, weddings, and even the birth of close friends' children, has been difficult. Some of these events happen once in a lifetime, and this pandemic has taken these memories away from all of us, including myself. However, I'm confident in our resilience as a nation, and I have no doubt that our brightest days are ahead of us. Professionally, I feel I strive most when I interact with people in a face-to-face environment. One of my best skills is reading body language and communicating directly with people. COVID-19 has completely changed that dynamic and forced me to adapt to our new virtual and masked reality. I had to fine-tune my communication skills over various outlets, including email interactions, phone interactions, and video conferencing.
What remains on your engineering bucket list — what do you aspire to do that you haven’t accomplished yet?
My biggest career goal would be to participate in designing a new hospital or health care tower from the ground up. Engineering design in health care has become my passion. I have participated in the design of operating rooms, catheterization laboratories , interventional radiology procedure rooms, etc., and the biggest career moment for me would be to put everything I’ve learned from designing each separate part of a hospital all into one project. That would be amazing.
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What’s one thing no one knows about you?
I would love to one day start my own charity or become a board member of one. I believe it is so important to give back to those in need.
List any mentors who’ve helped you succeed and describe exactly how they’ve shaped your success.
The first people who always come to mind are my parents, John and Wendy Huntzinger. They have taught me to first and foremost always be kind to others and to put my faith in God. They have taught me that you have to work hard for the things you want most in life and to never give up on your goals and dreams. Through faith and hard work, I have ended up where I am today. When it comes to my career, my mentors are Michael Costello and Adam Powell, who are both professional engineers and my supervisors at Emerald Engineering Inc. When I first started in this career, I didn’t know much about HVAC design, I just knew that I wanted to do something that would help others. They gave me the opportunity to take my engineering design health care. Emerald Engineering Inc. provided me with an environment where I can learn quickly and put me in a position to succeed. This company and my mentors continues to present me with opportunities and help me strive to be the best engineer I can possibly be.
What advice do you have for prospective female engineers considering entering the field?
Don’t be hesitant to venture into a career that isn’t standard. Push the doubt and negativity aside, hold your head high, and speak your mind. You earned that college degree all on your own and persevered through those odds. Now, follow through by being the best person and engineer you can be.